Thursday, February 3, 2011

Into the Maw of the Insurance Industry

I have been fortunate not to have been involved in any motor vehicle accidents of significance. I have had lots of car stereos stolen back when car stereos were stolen but have for the past 10 or so years, just paid my premiums.

Unfortunately this summer while at work and fortunately not doing anything, I got a call from my wife who had been T-boned at a stop light. I dropped everything and raced over there forgetting of course my wallet which had the automobile association card to find our beloved Volvo station wagon severely dented on the driver's side, airbags deployed. A few feet away was the Porsche Cayenne which had T-boned her.

The first thing the driver of the Porsche had said to my wife was," You ran the red light." (not something , like are you okay?) He was quickly corrected by the lady who had been in the next lane to him who informed him that the light had still been red in his direction when he decided to accelerate into the side of our car. On my arrival to the accident scene, I knocked on his window and asked for his insurance info and he told me to go away. All in all not a pleasant encounter.

But nobody was hurt, it was not our fault and we have insurance. Everything should be okay?

We got the address of a body shop recommended by the Volvo dealer and had the car towed there. I drove back to work, my wife got a ride home with the police (after they charged the other driver).

I am less patient and perhaps have unrealistic ideas of how long it should take to fix things but as a month passed I began to wonder why our car wasn't ready. Don't worry said my wife, these things take time. Six weeks passed and our car wasn't ready. We had rented a Kia Rio to get around town plus we had our third car so we weren't greatly inconvenienced? September came and we went off on a vacation to Europe fully expecting to have our car back when we returned. It was now getting close to 3 months.

A couple of days into our European vacation, we came back to our hotel to find a text message from our son. Our other Volvo (S-40) which was parked on the street due to work on our sidewalks which had made our driveway inaccessible had been spray painted and the window had been smashed along with every other car on our street. We sighed, told him to secure it as best he could, remove all the valuables and we would take care of it when we got back. No worry, we have insurance.

Arriving back a week or so later, my wife drove our spray painted car to the body shop where our other car was hopefully fixed and ready to come home. It was then that the body shop told us that it would be two weeks before our first car would be ready and that the reason for this was that the insurance company was questioning every single repair. Because Volvo parts are expensive and have to come from Sweden, body shops don't like ordering them if they aren't going to get paid for them. That meant that after the insurance company approved the repair, there was a one week wait for the part and this happened more than once. The adjudicator on our case was apparently a notorious hardass hated throughout the body shop community.

I decided that it was time to have a little talk with our insurance company. This required multiple minutes on hold, redials after being disconnected, explaining my case over and over again etc. Finally I left a message with our adjuster, saying if I didn't get a reply within an hour, I would be changing insurance companies. 55 minutes later I got a call back, "You seem to be upset about something", she said. Meanwhile I learned that our second car was being adjudicated by the some adjudicator. I asked the company if they minded assigning someone else which they eventually did.

We still had one car in the body shop. This car only had some spray paint on it, smashed windows and a dent in the door. After about two weeks I phoned the body shop to ask why it wasn't ready. "We are still waiting for the insurance company to approve the repairs", was the answer. Adjudicator #2 on his initial assessment missed a whole bunch of stuff that also had to be fixed. Back on the phone to our adjuster whose phone number I had now memorized. "I don't know what you are so upset about, " she said, "90% of the time we miss something the first time we check out a car."

We now have both cars back. I looked at changing insurance companies but decided that it was too much of a hassle plus as our insurance is a group rate through the medical association, we would probably pay more although, I wonder whether paying more might have been worth it.

Eventually we got back both our cars.

As an aside the kids who vandalized our car got caught. It turned out they were 15 year olds from the adjacent (richer than our) neighbourhood. About a month after the vandalization, I got a knock on my door one Saturday evening. There was a plain clothes policeman on our porch. "I have a letter of apology from one of the kids," he said, and produced a type-written unsigned letter. I read it briefly. We apologize a lot in Canada so I have heard or read a lot of apologies and this one covered all the bases. I asked my friendly policeman if the apology came with the $500 deductable I was going to have to pay, and if maybe I could also get an apology from the parents who didn't know what their kids were doing a 3 in the morning and also how could kids vandalize 100 cars without the police being aware of it? He didn't really have a good answer for any of that. I didn't ask him, but wondered whether if it had been a 15 year old from a worse neighbourhood, a plainclothes officer would have hand-delivered an apology?

1 comment:

burnttoast said...

OK, maybe I am old school, but wouldn't it have been a better teaching moment if the OFFENDERS had read you their apology, with irate parents standing behind them??? I can't believe the police took that on.
Imagine, instead of your car being dickered about, it was the health care of someone you loved. That's the USA.