3 On Your Side

Cactus totals car, State Farm denies claim

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

"If this had happened an hour earlier, I could have been killed," Brian Cameron said.

A downed cactus is why Cameron claims he or someone could have been killed.

It was this past Christmas Eve when Cameron's wife heard a loud boom just outside their Scottsdale home. When she rushed outside she found her neighbor's uprooted cactus had crashed onto her property. That's when she took out her phone and starting taking video.

Rain that day reportedly softened the ground just enough to cause the neighbor's very old and very large saguaro cactus to fall.

The cactus hit the couple's house first, knocking out Internet equipment, then toppled onto their Honda Element, shattering the back window and leaving behind all kinds of body damage to their car.

"We think it weighed about 4,000 pounds," Cameron said.

To get some perspective of just how formidable the 20-foot cactus was, Cameron had snapped a picture before it fell.

"It was planted by the neighbor right there, about 3 feet from my property," he said.

The cactus' owner has State Farm Insurance, which Cameron thought would take care of his damaged car. After all, why should he be liable?

"The owner of the property contacted State Farm and then State Farm reached out to me four or five days later and they basically said we're not going to cover you whatsoever, this is not our responsibility," he said.

Cameron wondered how State Farm could arrive at such a decision. Besides that phone call, Cameron says State Farm sent him a letter saying, "It is our determination our insured would not be found legally responsible for the damages claimed."

"I'm very disappointed," Cameron said.

He had to file a claim with his own insurance company and after being forced to pay a $1,000 deductible, his vehicle was deemed a "total loss."

State Farm refused to talk about the issue with 3 On Your Side and provided no specifics regarding Cameron's claim.

"Turns out State Farm isn't a good neighbor, they're not there for you," Cameron said.

Below are the responses 3 On Your Side received from State Farm.

1/5/17   "Thanks again for reaching out to State Farm. Due to our customer privacy policy, we are not able to discuss the specifics of any particular claim or customer’s policy information. Each claim is unique and we make a determination based on its own individual merits. Generally in most jurisdictions, if the tree is healthy, the owner of the damaged property submits the claim to his or her insurance. If the tree was in poor or dangerous condition then the owner of the tree may be found liable for the damage to the property. In that case the tree owner's liability insurance may respond to the claim."

1/9/17  "Thanks again for the opportunity to respond. The statement that State Farm is neglecting to investigate a claim is inaccurate. With enough evidence, we don’t necessarily have to physically send a representative out on every claim. While we can’t speak to the specifics of this claim due to our customer’s privacy policy, generally speaking, we may use a number of methods to investigate a claim – including photos, conversations with our policyholder and the claimant, and/or physical inspections. We are committed to paying what we owe promptly, courteously, and efficiently."   

Copyright 2017 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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