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Wreck a Ferrari, get off scot-free

Here's what happened when an FBI special agent got behind the wheel of a supercar.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 14, 2011 11:58AM

This post comes from Des Toups at partner site on MSN MoneyIf the FBI wrecks your Ferrari, this is what happens: Nothing.


Maybe that's why they call them special agents.


A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the feds in the 2009 wreck of a rare F50 supercar, valued by its owner at $750,000. That owner: an insurance company that paid a theft claim for it in 2003, then saw the vehicle seized five years later and "detained" as part of a drug prosecution.


An FBI agent -- with a federal prosecutor riding shotgun -- wrapped the car around a tree while moving the 513-horsepower exotic from a warehouse. Neither was seriously hurt, but the car was totaled.


Judge Avern Cohn last month dismissed the insurance company's claim for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The government is, in general, immune from lawsuits, but exceptions are allowed if the government, or one of its employees, commits an act within the scope of its official duties for which a private citizen ordinarily would be liable.


The owner, Motors Insurance, had argued that the car wasn't detained, but instead that the insurance company had given the FBI permission to keep the car as evidence. It also hinted that the agent was joyriding at the time. Post continues after video.

Cohn didn't buy either argument. The first is mere semantics, he wrote, and the second irrelevant: an agent may very well have been joyriding, but that wasn't part of his G-man duties.


The lesson? Only this: Don't try this at home.


Laws change from state to state, and procedures vary from insurance company to insurance company, but coverage usually follows the car. If you lend your car to a friend who wrecks it, it's your insurance that pays first, and it's your premiums that will rise. (See "Totaled on the test drive" for a look at the liability issues involved when car shopping.)


If you borrow a car and wreck it, your insurance pays what the owner's coverage doesn't.

Either way, there will be paperwork. There will be grim-faced claims adjusters. And there will be a moment of reckoning.


Because you are not a special agent.


More on and MSN Money:

Oct 17, 2011 11:54AM

After the wreck, was any testing done to see if the FBI agent driving the car was intoxicated on alcohol or another agent (no pun intended)?

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