When William Mosley and his family are in a car accident in Yellowstone National Park, they need an accident report to file an insurance claim. So where’s their paperwork?
Question: This summer my family was vacationing at Yellowstone National Park when we were involved in an accident with our Hertz rental car that was entirely another driver’s fault.
The driver who caused the accident ran us and another vehicle off the road. The second vehicle collided with our car. No one was injured but our rental sustained $2,700 in damage.
The park ranger who responded to the incident gave us a card containing information for obtaining an accident report. My wife submitted a request to the Yellowstone Law Enforcement Office for an accident report on Aug. 9, and the ranger’s card said we could expect a report within 30 days.
We need to submit a copy of the report to Hertz, our insurance company and our credit-card company. We do not want to be stuck with a $2,700 bill for an accident that was someone else’s fault.
By Sept. 23 we still had had not received the report, so I sent an e-mail to the Yellowstone superintendent’s office. On Sept. 27, I received a reply telling me they had referred my message back to the Law Enforcement Office, which was where we had started.
With no response by October 6, I sent an email to the public comment line at the Interior Department. I received an instant robo-response acknowledging receipt of the message, but as of now no substantive response.
Would you have any thoughts on how we might break the bureaucratic logjam? Hertz is now pressuring us for a payment of $200, which is our deductible, but we are concerned that paying anything before we have a police report would seem to be admitting fault. — William Mosley, Washington, D.C.
Answer: I’m glad the accident wasn’t serious and that you and your family are fine. You should have received your accident report promptly. When you didn’t, you followed all the correct steps to secure the paperwork.
I don’t think you were being impatient, although maybe Hertz was. Your insurance gives you a limited amount of time to file a claim, and until you do, your car rental company could charge you for the damage. (In some cases, I’ve seen the company bill the credit card even without a repair bill. Why? Because they can.)
This is an important case for a few reasons. You’re a retired federal employee, and I had the pleasure of working with you for many years. If anyone knows how to navigate the bureaucracy, it is someone like you. To see even an expert get caught in the red tape is a little discouraging.
Normally, the escalation ladder you followed would work. You took this to the right department, to a supervisor and then to the agency level. If anyone else is reading this, and wondering how to get to the right person in the National Parks Service — there’s your roadmap.
Also, I find it troubling that Hertz is coming after you. I mean, here’s a company that’s known to take its time with damage claims. Sending you “where’s our money” missives after an accident that wasn’t even your fault? Not cool.
Our advocacy team reached out to our National Parks Service contact on your behalf. You’ve received your accident report and I hope your insurance claim will be promptly processed.