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PhiNotPi's avatar

What was the answer for this bizarre extra credit question, involving car insurance?

Asked by PhiNotPi (12230 points ) December 13th, 2013

One of my physics tests had a question involving car insurance for a very small bonus. Here it is, modified to add context:

You are loading a baby elephant into your friend’s truck as a prank. The elephant, however, causes damage to the truck. Whose car insurance pays for the damage?

I don’t know the correct answer, but I made the assumption that car insurance would not cover the damages done by elephants.

What is the correct answer?

(I don’t want to wait a week to find the answer)

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25 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Car insurance goes by the car, not by the person. So the car owner’s insurance would cover if the damage is considered a covered event by the insurance company.

Judi's avatar

It might be covered by the pranksters homeowners insurance.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It would be your homeowners insurance first. Your liability insurance would get the first call, because it’s you doing the prank. If you didn’t have any insurance the car’s comprehensive might cover it, but they would then sue you for the damages.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Auto insurance for animal damage for non-moving incidents is covered by Comprehensive ( also covers vandalism ! ! ! )

Cupcake's avatar

The only person we know has a car in this scenario is the friend with the truck. You may not have a vehicle, thus may not have car insurance. The elephant does not have car insurance. Also, the damage was not caused by another car. So neither your nor the elephant’s car insurance are responsible.

The friend with the truck should have car insurance, if the truck is registered and driveable. That would be the car insurance to which you would submit a claim. They would decide whether to take the claim and whether to pursue recuperating damages from a liable party.

I don’t see what homeowners has to do with this question. We don’t know where the prank took place and the question specifically asks whose car insurance is responsible.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Cupcake Homeowners has two components, one is physical damage to the house, the other is liability coverage for you or the other family members. If your actions cause damage to someone else’s property the liability part kicks in. That’s also why renters should have renters insurance.

Cupcake's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I was specifically referring to the physics test question, not the coverage of a homeowners policy.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
CWOTUS's avatar

If the vehicle owner has it, his “comprehensive” coverage would pay to have the truck repaired (or replaced, if necessary). However, they wouldn’t simply absorb the loss; they would sue the prankster for the damages incurred – assuming the damage was caused by the weight of the elephant. If the elephant’s weight had not been an issue, but the elephant turned violent and stomped or otherwise caused damage of its own not related to “too heavy”, then they’d go after the elephant owner for allowing an uncontrollable nuisance at large or at small, considering that this is a baby elephant, after all.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Cupcake I didn’t get the connection between physics and the insurance question until now. A little light bulb is starting to glow above my head. It’s not all the way on, but it’s coming. Give me a minute.

Judi's avatar

My sister kicked her clog (yes it was the 70’s) through a window at her high school. Our moms homeowners insurance paid for it under liability.

LuckyGuy's avatar

A typical baby elephant weights 250 pounds Even the smallest truck in reasonable condition at least 500 pound load. Assuming the baby elephant’s feet are about the same size as a human’s the unit pressure should be about the same as a 125 pound person standing in the back.
If the truck breaks with that small load and is still under warranty the truck manufacturer is clearly at fault. Take it to the dealership and demand they fix it for free.

glacial's avatar

Since this is a bonus question on a physics test and no numbers were given, the question must be either a logic-based physics problem or a joke. @LuckyGuy‘s answer is very good, but it presumes that you know how much a baby elephant weighs and what the truck manufacturer’s warrantee is likely to cover. I think that’s too much to expect even a handful of people in your class to know.

Are you sure you have exactly the correct wording for the problem? I would guess there might be a play on words with “trunk”, for example.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@glacial For many physics problems you need to make and state your assumptions.

In an early physics class of mine we had a problem that read in its entirety something like: “A pipe smoking Indian saw a 747 take off in 3 micromoons. What was in his pipe?”
That and 30 minutes were all we were given. It really made us think.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think LuckyGuy got what the professor was angling for. He wanted the students to think about the physics of the problem and deduce what was at fault for the damage.
@LuckyGuy Peyote?

LuckyGuy's avatar

There you go. But you had to make a pile of assumptions.to get to that point. How long is a micro moon? How long does it take fora 7478 to accelerate up to speed and lift into the sky? Was the micormoon number too short, reasonable, or too long. Hallucinogen.

Fantastic problem.

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jerv's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Whose at fault? The carmaker for making a truck that breaks under the strain of 250 pounds (which is less than many Americans weigh!).

ccrow's avatar

Wouldn’t elephant damage come under the ‘act of God’ clause?? Then nobody would pay…

glacial's avatar

By the way, there’s no stipulation that the damage is due to the dead weight of the elephant… the question says that the elephant “causes damage to the truck”. Maybe it went on a baby rampage. ;)

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flutherother's avatar

As far as I know pranks are usually considered acts of vandalism or malicious mischief and so would be covered by the truck owner’s comprehensive insurance if he had any.

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