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Sean, thank you for your continuing coverage of the Bolt Fires issue.....As others have pointed out, it is hard to come up with a non-negative reason for GM choosing not to offer Scott the same kind of buyback they are offering others (who did not have a fire.)....On a personal note, the idea of having to go "to war" with GM to try and get a buyback is not having a good influence on my view of GM these days. Maybe if GM eventually does the right thing, eventually my opinion will return to a more neutral view. The fact the the best projection I can imagine for my view of GM is neutral, is an indicator that the "minimum bid" of good transparency from GM is not happening, especially given how much time has gone by.
Some folks here may recall a post several days ago (or was it yesterday) where I mentioned being in a similar situation with a previous employer. The issue at hand had to do with home insurance, following a fire that destroyed many homes and killed 25. Oakland firestorm of 1991 - Wikipedia

I was a property underwriting manager at the time. I had watched the fires from a distance from my home in Hayward Hills. My employer was a family owned insurance company, now in their 4th generation, who had affiliation agreements to provide private insurance to university, school, police and fire employees. As such, we had a large number of totaled homes in the area (50+ as I recall) despite being a relatively small company in the state. The issue we faced was many homes were built 50-75 years prior, and due to building code updates over the years, these homes simply could not be rebuilt with similar techniques. At the time, insurance contracts did not exclude costs to bring a building up to current codes, and replacement cost estimating tools we used similarly lacked that sophistication. Insurance contracts legally limited companies to the stated limits on the policy for the most part.

The day after, I sat down with the CEO, his father (prior CEO), his son (now the CEO), my boss (VP of Underwriting), and the VPs of Actuary and Claims. I was a relatively low level manager in with the big wigs, to say I was intimidated is an understatement. I presented my finding that of the homes we had identified at the time, all were grossly under-insured due to the code requirements requiring costly upgrades to rebuild the homes (based on feedback the claims folks had previously shared with me). We had put ourselves in the position of recommending how much to insure their homes using the primitive tools, so there were understandable reasons, and exposure to our company if we took a hard line. My recommendation, agreed to unanimously was to pay these claims over policy limits to make people whole, and to run it by the board of directors to make sure we were in agreement as high up as possible. The decision would add tens of millions to our already sizable exposure.

The rest of the industry took a hard line and essentially forced their customers to sue them for the money needed to make them whole. The state Insurance Commissioner held a public meeting with industry executives, interviewing each to get their position on this point. Our CEO explained what we had chosen to do, despite not being legally obligated to do so.

The commissioner instructed all of the companies to consider taking our position (he could not do so by decree). Most eventually did as I understand, and the cost to the industry turned out to be far worse than it would have been if all had held the line. But, we kept the courts out of it, which would have added even more cost. After the hearing, corporate lawyers spoke to our CEO to thank him for taking a daring, but fair stand in the matter, and how frustrated they had been with their corporate masters for taking the hard line.

The company reputation was spared, in fact greatly enhanced by this bold move. They went on from a small western region company to a national company operating in nearly every state now. The cost was certainly high, but the reward was an unimaginable positive for the company.

I say all of this not to bring attention to anything I did, after all the decision wasn't mine to make. But, the company chose to go beyond what they were legally required to do in extraordinary circumstances, and the goodwill they gained couldn't be bought, at any price.

GM is facing similar circumstances, and their future as an EV car maker is at stake. If they hold the line as they have done up to now, their reputation will suffer tremendously. If they do the right thing, their future will undoubtedly be bright.
 

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Battery defect causes fire -> fire voids battery warranty -> GM lawyers high-fiving each other
So… what part of the warranty pays for the $12,000 he is underwater?
What part of the warranty covers the fire?

This is no different if an arsonist set fire to the car out of EV hate. The insurance paid what it was worth (debatable) and it didn’t cover the balance because the owner didn’t have gap insurance.

The best he could have done was broke even. And he would still have no car!
 

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Nice article about a sad situation. By bringing this out in the open I hope some lawyer will contact Scott and take the case on contingency since the case seems very winnable to me (not that I'm a lawyer).

Another possibility would be to take the case to small claims court. The maximum settlement might be less than the $12k Scott is out, but at least he could get something close to that back ($10k limit in small claims in my state). My understanding is that if GM does not respond and show up in court then the case would be an automatic win. Even if they did show, I think GM would lose. I don't know if Scott having already accepted an insurance settlement makes a difference, though. I wouldn't think so since he did have a loss due to a defect in his Chevy car.

As mentioned, we've only heard Scott's side of the story. He did take the car to a body shop for "minor" roof paint. Did GM claim the cause of that somehow damaged the lithium battery?
 

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Not sure why this guy hasn't sued yet. One of my dear friends was the managing partner of one of our city's biggest accident/slip-and-fall law firms (part of a large national chain). She would have taken the case just for the sport of it.
 

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The guy with the burned bolt doesn’t need to worry about attorney fees. It would be taken on contingency, and recouped when GM loses.

It’s way too soon to start passing judgment on what GM will or ought to do when they are in the middle of figuring out what to do, and have yet to make any announcements. Hit pieces aren’t going to guilt-trip them into not following their lawyers advice, and it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.
Maybe, but this was a little over a year ago. They were not in the middle of things. Also this was not an accident. What about the warranty, useless except if the fine print talks about total fire loss that was car inflicted?
The lawyers are trying to not set a precedent of rolling over to easily. Good will and GM are apparently oxymorons.
 

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The guy with the burned bolt doesn’t need to worry about attorney fees. It would be taken on contingency, and recouped when GM loses.
That depends on the settlement amount. I was involved in a lawsuit where the defendant settled and my attorney's costs were around $25k (for a few years of work, info gathering, depositions, etc.).

If attorneys anticipate a sizeable amount of work and a payout that won't be that high, they won't take the case on contingency. In this case, what's the max payout, the value of the car plus some pain and suffering? Maybe $50k max? Might not be worth it for a lot of law firms or for the plaintiff, considering the law firm will likely take 40 - 50% plus costs. He'd need to take gap insurance to make sure he wasn't underwater at the end of the case (bad joke, I know, but more a stab at lawyers and their fees).
 

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Let's take a step back here.

The story is skewed here.
It implies that GM is responsible for it.
While I agree the battery fire would be problem caused by faulty car, GM not necessarily is to be after.

Just for the sake of experiment, let's change the story a bit.
Let's assume the owner took the car for a ride. Hit a puddle, spun the car, hit a tree, and damaged the motor, all front, bent the B pillar. Basically, repair of such damage is possible, but not justified. The car is a total loss.

Insurance adjuster comes in, says - we can pay $21'000. Period.

So far it is exactly same story except the fire we had a road accident.

Now, to the owner.
I am a bit puzzled here.
The car was 18-month old in Jun 2020. It means it must have been purchased Dec-2018 - Jan-2019.
If the MSRP was $41'000 for the Premier and $7500 was "given" from IRS, then the starting price would be... $33.5k.
How come after 18 months of payments one still owes so much? Even if you assume the whole car was on the loan, 1.5 year paid only for $8k. It means the loan was what, 8-year long???

That is, let me put it plainly, being stupid. It is a complete not thinking it through.
And now one blames GM for it. It is not GM fault that the owner made mistakes with insurance and auto loan.


In summary - 8 years long car payments are wrong. But if you do, get the GAP insurance.
There is no GM fault in here. The article is putting a wrong perspective.
 

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Let's take a step back here.

The story is skewed here.
It implies that GM is responsible for it.
While I agree the battery fire would be problem caused by faulty car, GM not necessarily is to be after.

Just for the sake of experiment, let's change the story a bit.
Let's assume the owner took the car for a ride. Hit a puddle, spun the car, hit a tree, and damaged the motor, all front, bent the B pillar. Basically, repair of such damage is possible, but not justified. The car is a total loss.

Insurance adjuster comes in, says - we can pay $21'000. Period.

So far it is exactly same story except the fire we had a road accident.

Now, to the owner.
I am a bit puzzled here.
The car was 18-month old in Jun 2020. It means it must have been purchased Dec-2018 - Jan-2019.
If the MSRP was $41'000 for the Premier and $7500 was "given" from IRS, then the starting price would be... $33.5k.
How come after 18 months of payments one still owes so much? Even if you assume the whole car was on the loan, 1.5 year paid only for $8k. It means the loan was what, 8-year long???

That is, let me put it plainly, being stupid. It is a complete not thinking it through.
And now one blames GM for it. It is not GM fault that the owner made mistakes with insurance and auto loan.


In summary - 8 years long car payments are wrong. But if you do, get the GAP insurance.
There is no GM fault in here. The article is putting a wrong perspective.
Wouldn't it have been nice for GM to step up and take care of a customer who appears to have zero fault in the fire itself, though?
 

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Wouldn't it have been nice for GM to step up and take care of a customer who appears to have zero fault in the fire itself, though?
Oh, I completely agree. I would expect a "post fire buy back"... I frankly would expect the same.

However, I said what I said, because it bothers me the such a decent place like electrek is, posts such stories.
It puts so bad light and misrepresents the facts.
The fire has nothing to do with payments.
If I did not owe anything at all.... would I still expect GM to pay me? Of course not.
It just pissed me off.
 

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Many state Attorney Generals take on consumer affairs issues. That's who I would discuss this with, especially if it were anywhere near election year. GM could have easily offered dude a replacement car on condition that he not sue in the future.
 

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To add to that thought, who would buy a $40k new vehicle and stretch their finances so thin that being reimbursed at less than that value when taking a loss creates financial hardship? Perhaps Covid caused job loss or something, but it still seems likely a series of poor financial decisions were made.

That doesn't absolve GM/LG from liability if the fire was due to a defect in manufacturing, but the person shouldn't have created a situation in which an emergency arose from a loss of their vehicle.
 

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Let's take a step back here.

The story is skewed here.
It implies that GM is responsible for it.
While I agree the battery fire would be problem caused by faulty car, GM not necessarily is to be after.

Just for the sake of experiment, let's change the story a bit.
Let's assume the owner took the car for a ride. Hit a puddle, spun the car, hit a tree, and damaged the motor, all front, bent the B pillar. Basically, repair of such damage is possible, but not justified. The car is a total loss.

Insurance adjuster comes in, says - we can pay $21'000. Period.

So far it is exactly same story except the fire we had a road accident.

Now, to the owner.
I am a bit puzzled here.
The car was 18-month old in Jun 2020. It means it must have been purchased Dec-2018 - Jan-2019.
If the MSRP was $41'000 for the Premier and $7500 was "given" from IRS, then the starting price would be... $33.5k.
How come after 18 months of payments one still owes so much? Even if you assume the whole car was on the loan, 1.5 year paid only for $8k. It means the loan was what, 8-year long???

That is, let me put it plainly, being stupid. It is a complete not thinking it through.
And now one blames GM for it. It is not GM fault that the owner made mistakes with insurance and auto loan.


In summary - 8 years long car payments are wrong. But if you do, get the GAP insurance.
There is no GM fault in here. The article is putting a wrong perspective.
I think you're comparing apples and chickens. If in the first example his wheel fell off (sheered axle due to manufacturer defect) instead of hitting a puddle, it'd be closer to apples to apples. The first example there is no manufacturer defect solely causing the car to be wrecked/totaled. Theoretically, he should have seen the puddle in your example and thus could have avoided it.
 

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To add to that thought, who would buy a $40k new vehicle and stretch their finances so thin that being reimbursed at less than that value when taking a loss creates financial hardship? Perhaps Covid caused job loss or something, but it still seems likely a series of poor financial decisions were made.

That doesn't absolve GM/LG from liability if the fire was due to a defect in manufacturing, but the person shouldn't have created a situation in which an emergency arose from a loss of their vehicle.
The specifics of his financing deal doesn't change anything as to what caused the Bolt to be totaled. We're staying off the main road. Bad financing did not cause the incident.
 

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Many state Attorney Generals take on consumer affairs issues. That's who I would discuss this with, especially if it were anywhere near election year. GM could have easily offered dude a replacement car on condition that he not sue in the future.
Tesla once bought back a brand new Model S that had caught fire. It turned out that fire was caused by a 9mm bullet fired from within the cabin. My point is it isn't wise to simply assume causality and reimburse someone without investigating first. I expect GM would do the same here; denying any claims until an investigation could be completed... or they could gamble like Tesla and simply assume every person who has a claim is telling the truth.

Like everyone else, I suspect a defect in manufacturing caused the fire, but the evidence isn't in yet, so the verdict cannot be read.
 

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The specifics of his financing deal doesn't change anything as to what caused the Bolt to be totaled. We're staying off the main road. Bad financing did not cause the incident.
Yes, but it could have affected the amount GM chooses to re-imburse...
 

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Can't one just flatbed it to a dealer and complain that there appears to be something wrong with their car. Heck, doesn't the Bolt's warranty have a free tow to the dealer. Make them come get it.
 

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If my bolt catches on fire due to a defect in the battery. there is no way I am having my insurance pay out. It will be Chevy that pays.
My financing is through GM so they can fight with themselves about paying the loan off.
 

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Yeah, I'm pretty insistent on the responsible party paying. Even if my insurance could make the whole thing relatively hassle free for me, I'm not letting them foot the bill if it's GM/LGs fault... and I'm adding my caveat again that it isn't clear they are responsible yet.
 

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Wouldn't the real solution here be for GM to give the guy a new car? Apparently that would cost GM less than 22k. Similar to what it did for me with the buy back where I ended up $345 out of pocket for an identical, but 2 year newer car. That makes the guy whole again. So he still has a 12k loan to pay off. He would have had that before the fire, so no new hard ship.

Coming back and saying the fire voided the warranty is just flat wrong. The defect caused the fire!
 
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