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June 12, 2006 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Torch my ride! Debt-heavy consumers, finding their pocketbooks unable to support their monstrous gas-guzzlers, are apparently turning to perfectly rational and legal means of debt resolution: insurance fraud. Meanwhile, across the pond, people are are still immolating cars for the more traditional reason: destroying the evidence. Should you find yourself in either situation any time soon Slate has a handy guide for you. If you have no such plans however, you may still want to read this in case your car ignites legitimately. And have a damn good story ready.
posted by baphomet (44 comments total)

 
Gah! I edited it so much and I still missed a comma after the "however". My apologies to the offended...mods, correct if you desire. Actually I'd appreciate that.

-----

I was going to do a corellary in this post about vehicle terrorists, as I've heard of some incidents in the past few years of American environmentalist groups vandalising/destroying automobiles to prove a point. Unfortunately, the only search terms I could think of to locate such information were combinations I'm not sure I care to enter from my home computer. If anybody has any information pertaining to such it would be gladly welcomed.
posted by baphomet at 9:39 AM on June 12, 2006


Financially and morally bankrupt white-collar criminals as terrorists. I love it!
posted by Mr. Six at 9:41 AM on June 12, 2006


The question is how much are SUVs increased consumption of gasoline responsible for the increase in gas prices.
posted by 517 at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2006


Reminds me of the burned out DeLorian that I saw sitting in Brooklyn years ago. Wish I'd towed it out as a lawn ornament.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:47 AM on June 12, 2006


The poor dears. I hope they don't spend years and years in jail... mwahahaha!

I wonder if any of them will try to blame the fires on those darned environmentalists? Maybe spraypaint an anarchist's A on the side of their own Enchilada or whatever they're called before torching it?
posted by pracowity at 9:56 AM on June 12, 2006


Luckily, Ford F150 owners don't need to worry about being blamed for insurance fraud.
posted by lsd4all at 10:07 AM on June 12, 2006


It's interesting that this is nothing new. It was such a huge problem back in 1984 that they passed a law to directly address it.
posted by smackfu at 10:11 AM on June 12, 2006


Not to be confused with torch my bride.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:16 AM on June 12, 2006


They should remain inside the vehicle while it's on fire to make sure everything goes smoothly.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:18 AM on June 12, 2006


The question is how much are SUVs increased consumption of gasoline responsible for the increase in gas prices.

As opposed to, say, the continual closing of domestic oil refineries. And the fact that oil companies don't give a crap about how much gas costs, as long as they make a profit.

I'd rather know why people buy those behemoths in the first place. When I see people whose SUVs barely contain enough people and/or stuff to half-fill a VW Golf, I'm stumped. Could they think of nothing better to do with the extra $10K+ they spent versus buying a normal car? Ten thousand dollars people - that's real money!

And then they go upside down on it. *sigh*

Maybe my new business plan is to take $10K from people and then walk behind them one day a week commenting aloud what a big penis they must have.
posted by GuyZero at 10:22 AM on June 12, 2006


Not that I have any payments left, but this makes me want to torch my '91 Buick LeSabre. Just for fun. And money.
posted by Ekim Neems at 10:29 AM on June 12, 2006


This seems a bit unsubtle. Couldn't you just sell your own car to a chop shop, report it stolen, then wait?
posted by QIbHom at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2006


Afaik SUV owner are primarily people who wrote off part of the cost as a truck..I guess there was a tax loophole that wasn't really closed by any recent administration. So indeed they are were not contributing to the system and , on top of this, they certainly helped increase useless consumption of gas, thus helping rising the price that hasn't been met by an increased offer, so much for the free market.

I can't wait for the petroleum guys, completetely invaded by enormous profit, to start crying to momma gubment that there is too much regulation or too little and that it costs too much or to little ! Why of course it's the free market, they do the fuck they want and why do you hate freedom so much , peon ?
posted by elpapacito at 10:37 AM on June 12, 2006


Maybe my new business plan is to take $10K from people and then walk behind them one day a week commenting aloud what a big penis they must have.

I don't have an SUV but if you can be a bit flexible on the price I think we have a deal.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:47 AM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


I was going to do a corellary in this post about vehicle terrorists, as I've heard of some incidents in the past few years of American environmentalist groups vandalising/destroying automobiles to prove a point.

Are people who vandalise cars terrorists? Can they be more usefully classified as angrifiers or rageorists?
posted by biffa at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2006


Envirofascists.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:57 AM on June 12, 2006


What a classic Middle America, white-collar response to trouble they got themselves into, usually by ignoring really obvious signs. Anything but having to suffer the consequences of your own actions, no, anything but that!

I only hope the prosecutors in question throw the proverbial book at the car owners. It's rare that I ever root for an insurance company, but...
posted by trigonometry at 11:07 AM on June 12, 2006


Hey, it's not all about America. They burn cars in France too. I saw it on the news.
posted by smackfu at 11:39 AM on June 12, 2006


Um, maybe I missed something, but the first article linked to is about police busting an insurance fraud ring...


are apparently turning to perfectly rational and legal means of debt resolution: insurance fraud.

where's the legal insurance fraud?
posted by nomisxid at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2006


But when the French burn cars, it's rooted in their sense of entitlement, their poor comprehension of economics, and the lack of any real free enterprise.

It's completely different!
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2006


Pretty funny that the article takes the time to explain what an "upside down" car loan is. Due to the way cars depreciate, every car loan is upside down the moment you take the vehicle off the lot!
posted by Potsy at 12:30 PM on June 12, 2006


Potsy : hah! I was just getting ready to post that. The term upside-down makes more sense (and is most often used) in the context of homes, whose value is actually supposed to appreciate over the years.

A car's value only appreciates after it's been off the lot for, what, 40 years? And even then, only if it's in absolute mint condition.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:34 PM on June 12, 2006


Due to the way cars depreciate, every car loan is upside down the moment you take the vehicle off the lot!

Not if you made a reasonable down payment. (And if you aren't paying too much for the car in the first place.) I don't have anything financed right now, but in the past I don't think I've ever owed as much on a car as it would sell for, let alone more.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2006


Due to the way cars depreciate, every car loan is upside down the moment you take the vehicle off the lot!

*cough*DOWNPAYMENT*cough*

And the immediate depreciation is easy to overstate. For, say, Hondas, a year-old car is not crazy cheaper than a brand-new one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:55 PM on June 12, 2006


nomisxid, the point is that insurance fraud violates a civil contract, not common law. If you get caught, you could be denied insurance compensation (or get sued in extreme cases) but you'd never see the inside of a jail cell.
posted by randomstriker at 12:55 PM on June 12, 2006


Potsy: If you put down a significant downpayment on a car, like people did in the good ol' days, then it's likely that you owe less than the instant drive-off-the-lot depreciation, since you did not, in fact, finance the entire purchase price. The problem comes with relaxed loan requirements where you can finance the entire cost of the loan.
posted by tippiedog at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2006


potsy: Not every car loan - only the ones where the borrower puts less than 20% down on their vehicle. If you put down 20% on a new car, (or 10% on a used car), you're not likely to end up upside down.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:58 PM on June 12, 2006


Also, note that while you might be upside down early, a rational payment plan over a shorter term and a decent down payment will quickly right that. I was probably upside down on my current car for about three-four months, but it wouldn't have been by much.

But if you buy a large, expensive car that doesn't hold value well on a very long term loan without a down payment, that's where you find yourself hosed. People with 60 and 72 zero-down loans are the ones who end up deeply underwater. People with 36 month loans quickly get ahead of the curve, esp. with a 10% downpayment.

As in all loans, the important thing is to try to maximize your principal payment and minimize your interest payments. Of course, the degenerate case is "buy the car for cash."
posted by eriko at 1:06 PM on June 12, 2006


biffa and sonofsamiam, thanks for correcting me on that. I guess I wasn't digging deep enough for quality terminology.



Isn't that great? To bad it wasn't a Yukon or Excursion.
posted by baphomet at 1:28 PM on June 12, 2006


Randomstriker: Interesting. Of course if they claim that loss on their taxes, it'll be a federal crime.
posted by nomisxid at 1:31 PM on June 12, 2006


nomisxid: You did in fact miss something. It was obviously not to be taken literally. Perhaps in the context it could be taken as an attempt at ironic humor.
posted by baphomet at 1:32 PM on June 12, 2006


The SUV in the photo is a Honda CRV—not much of a gas guzzler.
posted by disgruntled at 1:50 PM on June 12, 2006


I think it might be whatever the Acura-ized version is, from the grille. But yeah, it's basically a Civic wagon that's burning there.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:57 PM on June 12, 2006


No it's a CRV, the Acura MDX (Acura only makes one SUV) has different headlights.
posted by disgruntled at 2:02 PM on June 12, 2006


Honda CRV. They Photoshopped out the Honda emblem on the grill and removed some detail in the headlights.
posted by disgruntled at 2:10 PM on June 12, 2006


Excellent post title.
posted by a3matrix at 2:54 PM on June 12, 2006


I recently had to clamber over the remains of a car on my way to Homebase to get some electrical tape. Sooty mess. Seems to be a bit more common on this side of the pond.
posted by srboisvert at 3:03 PM on June 12, 2006


A car's value only appreciates after it's been off the lot for, what, 40 years? And even then, only if it's in absolute mint condition.

My car turns 40 next year... and it is beeeyoootiful. Woot!

It does, however, get lousy mileage in town.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:37 PM on June 12, 2006


rational and legal means of debt resolution: insurance fraud.

Insurance Fraud is not legal. It's a felony in California and probably in all the other states too. Don't be an idiot.
posted by insomnus at 12:30 AM on June 13, 2006


Insurance fraud is also a criminal offence in the UK. "Obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception."
posted by essexjan at 2:28 AM on June 13, 2006


I'm just surprised these Americans in question are not just shooting their cars with shot guns or something and then claiming the cost of the car by some "stupidity insurance" or something.
posted by 13twelve at 7:24 AM on June 13, 2006


Insurance Fraud is not legal. It's a felony in California and probably in all the other states too. Don't be an idiot.
posted by insomnus at 2:30 AM CST on June 13 [+fave] [!]

WOW, I pointed out above, not even 8 posts higher than yours, that the statement was intended as a joke, and you call me an idiot. I wonder who the idiot here really is...

RTFT pal.
posted by baphomet at 8:31 AM on June 13, 2006


well whats the point of having insurance if you dont use it?
posted by duality at 8:35 AM on June 13, 2006


Well oops. I thought this comment was you being an idiot, when in fact it was some other dude. Sorry. Whenever anyone uses the term "Common Law" on an internet discussion, it just activates my bullshit alarm.
posted by insomnus at 11:09 AM on June 13, 2006


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