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Insured Property Lost Then Found Not Necessarily A Happy Ending

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - What if you get insurance money for a stolen item that later is located and returned to you?

It was almost a really happy ending. A woman in Duluth, Georgia was heartbroken back in 1972 when the new car- a Corvette Stingray - she bought only six months earlier was stolen from a parking lot.

Police figured it'd been stripped for parts. Her insurance company paid the claim, and that was the end of the matter, until more than 42 years later when a car restorer bought it and matched the VIN number to the stolen car.

So who keeps it? Nope, not the restorer.

Stolen property goes back to the rightful owner. But who's that? Not who you think.

By law, it's the insurance company that's going to get it. Why? Policies covering loss of property almost always have a "right of salvage" provision, which means basically that the insurance company is the new owner of the old property.

While that's usually fine - good, give me the money and you can keep the nonexistent car - if the insurer pays you for its loss, and the property is later recovered, it becomes the insurance company's property.

In many cases, a car owner is required to turn over the title before getting the check in case it turns back up - and if it does, the insurance company has the right to sell it, junk it or keep it.

What is it they say on inspirational needlepoint? It's better to have loved than lost, and gotten back and lost again than never having…oh forget it.

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