Thursday, July 12, 2018

In Fact, Not Like A Good Neighbor

     My car insurance is affordable -- I "bundled" it with the loan-required homeowner's insurance when I bought Roseholme Cottage, in fact, which meant changing from the extremely responsive insurer I'd had for many years to another and larger outfit.  I didn't think it would be much of a change; my coverage was the same and after all, insurance is insurance, right?

     As it happened, I was driving a succession of Hyundai Accents at the time.  People kept hitting them.  It's a small car, with a somewhat generic shape; perhaps other drivers thought it was farther away than it was.

     The first wreck was on my old insurance.  They offered what they called "concierge" service, which is basically hands-off: you give up control of things like what body shop gets used and where your rental car comes from and in return, you get zero hassle; they get you in a rental ASAP and your old car goes away to be fixed or totalled.  It was great!

     The next wreck was on my new insurance.  Let's call the company "Agricultural Prison."  They say they're your good neighbor.  They're more like paranoid Mrs. Kravitz across the street.  First question from them was "Where do you want it taken?"

     "A body shop," was, as it happened, not the answer they were after.  When I pointed out they dealt with a lot more body shops than I did, and that I would happily accept their judgement,* they demurred.  They didn't want to "endorse" any particular shop; they wanted me to "make my own choice."  Because after an accident, who doesn't want to be spending time researching auto-body shops?

     Car rental was equally burdensome.  The rental company's agent turned surly when I told him the name of my insurance company; the insurance company promised to fax him required documentation but he wanted my credit card and approval on file, and I went along because I was working swing shifts while moving into Roseholme and I needed a car, quickly.  Twelve hours later, I got an angry call from the rental company -- where was the insurance documentation?  They wanted it or their car back, stat!  It was early in the morning and I had just got off work; I was on a short turnaround with only ten hours between shifts and I needed sleep desperately.  I pointed out they had my credit card, I didn't have time to sort this out and they could just change the terms to an ordinary rental until we sorted things out.  Two hours later, while I was asleep, two of their minions took the rental car, dumping my toolbag (with about a thousand bucks of specialized hand tools inside) and briefcase on the front porch and hammering on the door before zooming off.   I called the rental company and got a lot of backtalk; I worked my way up to the regional V.P. and after a lot of trouble, got an apology and a much nicer rental delivered to my door after that day's work.  The insurance company had dropped the ball and the rental company, with a long history of being ill-treated by them, had acted with an excess of haste and zeal.

     For some damn reason -- it's bundled with my homeowner's policy, after all -- I stayed with the insurer.  I should have dropped them like a stinking hot rock with leprosy.

     Fast-forward to yesterday.  The first thing my auto insurer told me was that I should "work it out with the other person's insurance company myself."  When I pushed back, they claimed they were trying to save me the $500 deductible, because "you might not get that back for up to a year."  They were a little reluctant to help even after I told them $500 was a small loan to make if it meant I didn't have to spend hours on the phone sorting this out, but they set me up with a rental and made arrangements to have my car taken to their inspection center.

     Well, I thought they'd set me up with a rental, delivered to my work.  They told me to expect a call from the rental company.  When that didn't come, I called the rental people myself.  They knew from the claim number that I needed a car, but didn't have my phone number and didn't know I needed it delivered.  And -- whattaya know, the local rental office was closed already.

     I'm just a little bit annoyed.  This company is the shoddiest bunch of second-rate slackers I have encountered, and they're consistent about it. It's been ten years since their first poor performance and they're not doing any better this time around.

     They aren't there like a good neighbor.  They're more like acne or hemorrhoids.
* My mother was an insurance adjuster for years and did a lot of auto work during that time.  The adjusters know which shops do good work and which are rip-offs, and while they are paid to not spend any more than necessary, they're also paid to retain you as a customer: a good insurance adjuster will get you a good value-for-money on car repairs -- oh, nothing extra, not a bit, but if they're honest and good at their job, the repairs will be be good and honestly priced.  Contrarily, "Agricultural Prison" insurance is cheap and understaffed, and if they can avoid one of their adjusters getting involved, they will.  And pocket the savings.


David Harris said...

Time to start shopping. Or return to your former insurance.

Hope your accident doesn’t result in further physical issues.

fillyjonk said...

If they're the ones I think they are, they don't call themselves "good neighbors" any more in their ads. (And much hay is made of that fact in the city where relatives of mine live, which is the city where they used to be headquartered, but have since moved a lot of the operations out to "cheaper" locations....)

If they're the ones I'm thinking they are, I have them too, which now makes me nervous. My only dealing with them in the past was when a vandal broke out a car window while I was out of town on vacation. When I called them, and told them where I was, they told me what glass shop to take the car to, and the window was replaced with minimal fuss. But maybe they've changed? (this was more than 10 years ago). Or maybe minor things are easier for them to handle.

Chuck Kuecker said...

I've also got "Agricultural Prison" insurance. A few years ago, I was coming home with my wife from voting, and a guy in a big pickup came right up on my bumper. I guess going the speed limit up a hill in a no-passing zone was too slow.

So, being a sensible, careful driver, he decided to pass me on the right shoulder, and sideswiped my car to avoid running down a mailbox. He tried to run, but I caught up close enough to get his license.

After a police report, and him getting a ticket for hit and run, I got a visit from his insurance adjuster. AP didn't bother. I got paid for the damage, and fixed it myself.

Went to court to see justice done - when this gentleman's case came up, it had been downgraded to "speeding" and he got off with a minor fine. Guess he knew someone.

About a year later, talking to my AP agent, I discovered that AP had PAID the guy for HIS damages incurred while side-swiping my car.

I've always loved dealing with insurance.

Anonymous said...

The service of all insurance companies has deteriorated over the years as the cult of the MBA has infiltrated all walks of business. So far Erie Ins has treated me well, but that may depend on the individual agent.

James Johnson, ex-nuke

Anonymous said...

I've heard horror stories about that company, which we've had for a long time. We've been lucky with them I guess. I hit a deer a few years back--luckily I was only going about 30mph and slowed considerably before the collision. They set us up with a rental and chose the shop, which did good work. I can't even say it's our agent as we dealt with the 800 number.
I do worry about any future problems as I've heard plenty of stories like yours.

Anonymous said...

Other people will bundle home and auto. After the dust settles, I would be looking for another company.

James Storyteller Pritchett said...

Same company just said I was 70% responsible when their client struck me (a pedestrian) while reversing. Said I fail to "take evasive action" and are therefor denying my medical (18k+) claim. If they were my "good neighbor", I'd move.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

All I can say is that's not been my experience with them, and I've been with them continuously for most of my adult life. Never had a problem, and I rather prefer finding my own body shop (instead of some shop chosen at random by someone at corporate) and renting my own car (and getting club points for using my normal rental company). They've paid with dispatch for my wife's last two fender-benders (neither her fault) and they were 100% on the ball with my mom's accident two years ago.

Your agent ought to be kicking corporate's butt for you.

If you'd like to switch agents, mine is fabulous. In point of fact, my original agent -- who I was with for over 20 years -- retired, and corporate, without any input from me, switched me to another agent who was, to put it mildly, worthless. After putting up with him for a couple of years, I discovered a fraternity brother was an agent, and I switched to him. No problems ever since, and I'd be happy to give you his name.

RandyGC said...

Once again thankful that I was eligible to get USAA.

I hope you have smoother sailing ahead.

Merle Morrison said...

Well, I see you are enmeshed in fun & insurance games - hopefully not leading to an ulcer....

As requested, I'm asking you how you are feeling today?

Roberta X said...

I'm okay so far.

JayNola said...

This is excellent to hear.

Jerry said...

I'm glad to hear you're doing ok. I know all about the insurance whence you speak. We got rid of them about 2 decades ago. Sounds like age has not improved service.

Cincinnatus said...

That company was a joy, a real joy, to work for as contract defense attorney.


D.W. Drang said...

We had them for years, because Mrs. Drang had them when we got married. When she inherited her father's house and car, she compared and switched to Mr. Goodhand. We've had no real issues; a couple of months ago she got rear-ended by a woman while waiting for a light to turn green and Mr Goodhand suggested, since it was obviously the other persons responsibility that she call their insurance to see if they would take it directly. The Lizard's minions had her set up with a body shop, with a rental waiting at the body shop, within a couple of days.

Which all bring's to mind the old (Bizarro?) cartoon of the guy in a suit at the pearly Gates, trying to tell Saint Peter "Its the insurance business, it's a business, if we paid too much out we wouldn't make any money!"
Pete didn't look like he was buying it...

D.W. Drang said...

Wish one could edit a comment, instead of deleting it and starting over...
1) I was referring to "Agricultural Prison", in case it wasn't obvious.
2) I wonder how much of the variance in experience noted with them above is due to variance in individual agencies, or possibly even state insurance regs?

Anonymous said...

Drang, I don't if it's agencies or regs, but my experiences have been good. On the other hand, I've heard people with bad experiences in the same state. And the times I've used them, I've called corporate numbers for claims, so I don't know.