Marine turns to ‘Better Call Behnken’ after accident, insurance maze leave him stranded

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(WFLA) – Sam Bell is a disabled Marine trapped in an insurance maze after a semi truck hit his car, leaving him stranded.

After three weeks and not one visit from an insurance adjuster, Bell turned to 8 On Your Side’s Better Call Behnken. Our investigation caught the attention of the Marine community and one of Bell’s old buddies, Rick Argo. Argo is a mechanic and reached out, willing to evaluate the 20-year-car and fix it, if possible.

Bell is thankful and now has hope.

“One of the hidden blessings of the past few days is all the effort that a lot of my family and friends have gone through and getting relief because you showed up at the door,” Bell said.

The truck driver who caused this damage left the scene of the accident, but Bell’s friends jumped in their car and sped after the truck and called law enforcement. An incident report was written up, but none of the insurance companies involved have stepped up to help Bell get his 1997 Ford fixed. Bell is left without transportation and fed up with the lack of answers. He says his calls to the involved insurance companies haven’t been returned.

“Once it broke the radiator, it (has) made the car unsafe for me to travel,” Bell said. “I volunteer at the VA. I also still do therapies at the VA.”

The car is a lifeline for Bell. It’s equipped so that the disabled Marine – who was injured in Iraq and then became paraplegic in a motorcycle accident – can drive using only his hands.

“I’ve been utilizing a track chair, which is my tank power chair and a power chair, which I have blown three tires on just so I can go back and forth to the grocery store,” Bell said.

Sheriff’s deputies tracked down the truck driver, but none of the insurance companies involved paid Bell a visit.

“As a matter of three weeks now, I have not gotten an adjuster or a reliable phone call back,” Bell said.

He called Better Call Behnken for answers. News Channel 8 found Bell’s insurance company, USAA, won’t cover the damage because he doesn’t have collision insurance. Bell said he would still expect that a company that prides itself on helping veterans would at least help him hold the right company responsible.

A representative with USAA says the company is trying to work as a mediator, but this situation is complicated.

The driver works for EXP Logistics, of St. Cloud. That company rents their trucks from Penske, and that company’s insurance company is Old Republic. Investigator Shannon Behnken reached a senior vice president at Old Republic and left messages for others with the company. Behnken will continue to seek answers. Meanwhile, Argo plans to assess the damage on Bell’s 1997 car.

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