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What happened:

2 months ago my then girlfriend (now wife) was carjacked at gunpoint. The car was found the next before 48 hours in another town, in circumstances that merit the police to take my car as evidence in a criminal case regarding the carjacker and his activities in that time period. I received a statement from the prosecutor that the car might be returned to me in a year's time at the soonest, pending the conclusion of the criminal case.

I appealed the insurance company and was told that since they do not have the car they cannot do anything.

I appealed the financial institution and was told that they are unconcerned with the state of the vehicle, only with the fact that I have a loan with them.

Context:

  • I live in Puerto Rico. PR's finances are in a state of disarray and public institutions are being short-staffed (more than usual in any case). It took the department of transportation 1 month before they could give my wife evidence that I had payed 2017's driving tax. The car has also been placed in a lot where it is exposed to the elements; since the car has no windows because of the circumstances of how it was found, it has been deteriorating at a fast pace.
  • I bought a car last in October 2016. Because I do not have too much credit history, the lender's loan had non-negotiable insurance attached.
  • 5 months ago I shipped to Army Basic Combat Training in Fort Sill, OK. I am still here awaiting orders to proceed to Advanced Individual Training. This is relevant because I am limited in how fast I can act, as I am limited to acting through my wife or my mother.
  • Since October I have not missed any payments on my car loan, nor have I been late to pay.

My conclusions and thoughts:

If the car had not been "recovered", the insurance would have payed the cash value of the car after 30 days. I believe liability lies with the insurance company as they are interpreting the "recovery" of the vehicle as exempting them from keeping their side of the contract. I also believe some of the liability falls on the financial institution, which did not offer any alternatives for the car's non-negotiable insurance add-on. I am overly cautious with my vehicle, especially in PR, and I would have chosen a full coverage if I had the chance.

Other than that I really have no idea how to proceed. I signed the dotted line and I must adhere to an imperfect contract. The result is that I am obligated to repay a loan plus insurance for a car that is not being used, or face damage to my credit rating.

I am still in the process of consulting JAG offices to see if they have any advice on the matter.

Has anyone had anything remotely similar happen to them?

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    I would consult a lawyer. Are you continuing to insure the car? (I would think you would not need to, since you have neither possession of the car nor the ability to protect it.) I would think that whichever jurisdiction is holding the car has some responsibility to safeguard it. The lender should have some concern about the state of the car, as its value as collateral would appear to be declining while in impound. – chepner Aug 19 '17 at 19:55
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    I think you can get your losses back through a civil lawsuit against the thief, although that is probably a purely theoretical option. – Aganju Aug 19 '17 at 22:34
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    @Aganju: Maybe even more theoretical than you suggest. You may be able to get a judgement against the thief, but whether you can actually recover your losses depends on whether the thief has the resources to pay. – BrenBarn Aug 20 '17 at 3:51
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    Literally a dead end. The thief was found dead in the car. – ebichuhamster Aug 20 '17 at 13:31
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    Sorry for your troubles, congrats on your marriage, and thank you for your service. I am really happy your wife is okay. This sucks royally, and I am sorry for your troubles. One thing to do would be to talk to your commander at AIT or even the legal department. A commander who cares will do all they can to help you. – Pete B. Aug 21 '17 at 12:17
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Just to close this out, the prosecutor released the vehicle and the insurance declared it as total loss. Considering all of this happened before Maria, having it solved "so soon" has been a blessing. Thank you to all who commented.

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