Monday, August 24, 2009

Surviving As An Insurance Company During The Recession

"Sir, It looks like you're covered! ....Just kidding!"
So at the end of my workweek last week, i got into my car prepared to drive home and enjoy my weekend. That day had been extremely hot, and having that heat around me in the air was unbearable. I rolled down my windows to let out the air, and then hit the buttons to roll them back up. As i was backing out of my parking space, it starts sounding like glass was breaking. I look around and see my rear driver's side window was the only one not on it's way up, so i pushed the reverse button for it to stop.

I'm thinking "Crap, i broke my window!". As if i wasn't upset over all this as it was, as i was driving home trying to explain why i was upset to my girlfriend Ashley, the air going over that window as i drove home on the freeway was making a very loud and very annoying noise, giving me a headache. She was very patient with me and tried to calm me down before suggesting the possibility of my insurance covering this. Right after i hung up with her the window fell all the way into the door.

Having no experience with using my car insurance for claims, and knowing my mother goes through the same insurance agency, i call her to try and explain my situation and ask what to do. She proceeds to yell through the phone that she can't hear me, to roll up my window.

"Roll up your window. It's too loud, i can't hear you!"

After explaining the situation to her, and her telling me she couldn't give me any direction other than to call my insurance agent, i called American Family Insurance. Of course, why would my agent have his office open on a friday afternoon around 3pm? So i have to call the non-personal line and deal with the call-center people rather than the people that know me.

Now that i had the first problem of knowing what to do out of the way, calling my insurance, the second problem was figuring out which phone options was right for me. It didn't take long till i was routed to an agent. I explained my situation in full, she said it sounds mechanical and so it wouldn't be deal with by their department specific to glass repairs. She transferred me to a older man named Jim Reid. Explaining my situation again, he agreed it sounded like it might be mechanical, but that i was covered with my Comprehensive Insurance in full, with a $0 deductible. NICE! So he recommends i go through one of their shops, says it will be covered by a lifetime warranty, and that this place had quick turn-around. After giving me all the necessary info, i hang up with him and call the shop, Abra

Quickly setting up an appointment for the falling morning, i finally felt less stressed and let myself breath again. The following morning i got up, and showed up much too early (as i have a habit of doing) and sat in my car playing on my T-Mobile G1, waiting for them to open. I went there with no information (since i asked if i needed it and my insurance guy said i didn't) and the people there were very helpful in helping me get them the information they needed. They even called the nearby Enterprise Car Rental and told them to come pick me up, since my insurance fully covered a car from there.

The weekend goes by and I get a call at work today stating that my window and the window regulator had been repaired and that they were sending my car off to get the window re-tinted. He said he'd call me when that was done, but that it'd probably not be until the following day. My experience so far, had been pretty painless!

Then Jim called back. Said that they changed their mind, that this was considered "wear and tear" and not comprehensive. WHAT?

First, i have nobody in the back seat using that window to be causing any kind of wear and tear because i dont have kids yet, and i don't have passengers back there. Second, even if the first was true, i was told i was covered and the work was already done. I get that people make mistakes, but it shouldn't be me who pay's for Jim's mistake, it should be his employer. I thought part of my insurance was to pay for other people's mistakes anyway!

After getting off the phone with Jim, i think about it. After deciding i'm not okay with the results, i call back, got jerked around by some other Agent who said that he could help me, and i didn't need to go to Jim, i let them know i wasn't okay with their decision. I then call my personal agent's office, and speak with their receptionist and let her know my frustrations and how i feel like i'm being dealt with fraudulently, she says she'll get my agent in touch with me in the morning. Not wanting the mechanic to be out of the loop, i call him up and let him know my situation with my insurance company. Brian, my mechanic, begins to tell me that he was very surprised that they "took back" their previous classification of my claim. He said they sent over as a comprehensive claim, saying i had a $0 deductible and also said:

"I looked at your regulator, and it didn't show any signs of wear and tear. Yeah the cable looked a mess in the pictures, but that's because it just snapped, but because of wear and tear!"
Thanking him for his help and understanding in the matter, i agree to keep him informed of any changes. Jim then called back, having gotten the notes of my disagreement on my account. As of right now, they are currently "looking into it" with his manager, to see if they should cover it. We'll see what happens.

So my advice for surviving through this economic recession as a car insurance company, is to claim you'll cover your customers, and then after everything is done, take back that coverage! 90% of the time, you'll be dealing with someone who just takes what life gives them, and won't know that it's okay to speak up and say they don't agree! There's a good chance you won't get someone like me. So not only will you continue to get their premiums, but you won't have to pay a dime! Your survival relies on you finding those loopholes, confusing your customers, and pressuring them into submission!

Even better, buyout a repair shop & car rental company and direct those repairs to that shop. Referral of business without and "liability" and assurance that the work has been done and so payment is due is the the best way to not only survive, but climb back up that mountain!

"So i know a guy that can get that done for you..."

Sort of reminds of those Home Improvement episodes where that guy was every department. All he had to do was switch the sign at his counter, and he was the department they wanted to talk to!

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