Insurance Forced Into Payout Provides Satisfying Reading

, , , , , | Working | November 9, 2018

I am working for an agency as a temp receptionist and admin, often only staying at each company for a week or so.

One Sunday I get home to discover that my passenger door of my car has a massive dent in it, right across both panels, looking like someone turned too early reversing out of a space next to me. This is around February and I don’t often have passengers, so I haven’t seen this side of the car in the light for well over a week and have no idea when it might have happened. I’ve been working at a couple of places, so I don’t even know where.

I take the car to a couple of garages for quotes, and it’s going to be over £800 to fix. Bearing in mind I am 23 and have been working agency for a week here and a week there for several months, this is money I don’t have. My insurance excess is £500, so I decide I’ll give them a call to find out whether it would be better to make a claim or whether the impact in future would make it a bad idea.

I ring up the insurance company and get a lovely young man on the phone who assures me that as it isn’t my fault, that if I make a claim it won’t affect my premiums, and even better, that I won’t have to pay the excess for the same reason, and that he can arrange for me to have a free hire car while mine is in the garage. This is a heck of a lot better than I expected, so of course I say sure, let’s go ahead and claim, then.

He goes ahead and puts in a claim, and says that their estimator will come out to look at it and the hire car company will contact me within a couple of hours to arrange for the courtesy car.

An hour later, the hire car company rings as promised. We get through the basic name, address, etc., and then they ask for the details of the other driver. I don’t know who did it, I reply, and suddenly they clam up, saying they can’t provide a car and that the insurance company will ring me.

Sure enough, the phone rings to a different insurance agent informing me that as I don’t know who did it I’ll have to pay the excess myself, I can’t get a hire car, and my premiums will go up massively because they can’t claim against the other person’s insurance.

I am in tears at this point trying to explain that I rang to ask all of this and only put the claim in because I was assured it wouldn’t have an impact. I ask them to put the claim on hold as I’m informed they can’t remove it.

Eventually, I get my wits together and put in an official complaint, asking them to listen to the previous call, given they are flat out denying I was told what I was.

The result is them having to honour their first employees words. I get a hire car for two weeks, the work is done through my normal garage as I trust them, I don’t have to pay the excess, and it won’t impact my premiums.

Well, I say that… I have to ring and fight them again to collect the car when the garage hasn’t been paid the excess. Then, come my renewal date, I have to fight again, including another complaint, after they remove my no-fault claims and put my premium up. But in the end, that employee, who I assume was new and just misunderstood no-fault claims, probably cost the company close to £2000 between the repairs and the car hire, etc.

Usurping The Border

, , , | Right | October 19, 2018

(I get a phone call from one of our client members.)

Member: “Hello, we’re here in Germany, at Rees, and our car broke down. Our membership number is [number].”

(I fill in the number. It shows a roadguard insurance for Netherlands only.)

Me: “I see you only have insurance for the Netherlands, sir. Is that right?”

Member: “Yes, but we are very close to the border. About twenty kilometres.”

(I look up the location.)

Me: “That’s true, yes. Hm… You’re still out of the country, but I might be able to do something. Can you hold, sir?”

Member: “Yes.”

(I go and talk to my superior about this.)

Me: “One of our members has broken down in Germany, very close to the border. But he only has an insurance policy for help in the Netherlands.”

Member: “Hm. There is a policy of sending out Dutch roadguard to certain German areas close to the border. But it really has to be the right area. You should call the inland department to ask them. If it’s the right zone, we could tow them to the Netherlands, out of courtesy.”

(Courtesy indeed, since they officially have no policy for help in foreign countries. I call the inland department, and tell the story.)

Colleague: “I’m sorry. I can’t put the location through. They’re clearly in the wrong zone.”

Me: “All right, then. At least we tried. Thank you.”

(I go back to the client, who is still on hold.)

Me: “Sir, I’m sorry, but it turns out we can’t send out a Dutch road guard over there, due to legal jurisdictions and everything. The only thing I can do is text you the phone number of the German road guard. That way, you could at least receive some help.”

Member: “And we have to pay for that ourselves?”

Me: “Yes, sir. I’m very sorry, but your insurance does not cover for help on foreign soil. But I’ll be texting you the phone number of the German road guard.”

Member: “Well, I think I won’t use it. I’ll just contact a local towing company. I mean, it’s all good that you usurp all these bureaucratic rules, but to be honest, I’m quite fed up with this! We’ve been members for years, and this is no service!”

(I’m still not quite sure what he meant with us “usurping” rules. Later I recount the story to another coworker.)

Coworker: “I don’t get the man. Either you have an insurance or not. If you don’t have a fire insurance and your house burns down, you won’t go to your health insurance, will you?”

(I’m still quite amazed that he blamed us for not being insured himself. And that, with all the effort I put in it, he still acted as if I hadn’t done anything.)

A Breakdown Of The Breakdown Services

, , , | Right | October 17, 2018

(Our roadguard insurance covers quite a lot of stuff, like sending a road guard for repair on the spot or for towing your broken vehicle to a garage. It does not, however, cover the costs of repair at the garage — since these tend to be quite high — or any unforeseen additional hotel costs. Somehow, many people just assume certain stuff is covered, without carefully reading the terms and conditions. We often receive phone calls from people who don’t get it.)

Caller: “Hi, my car broke down in Germany, a while ago. I’m back home now, but I have a question. It’s [license number].”

Me: “Yes, I found it.”

Caller: “The repair costs at the garage were €150. Apart from that, I had to book a hotel for two nights, with some meals, making that a bill of €140. Can I get these covered?”

Me: “Unfortunately, sir, these costs are no part of our roadguard insurances. However, it might be possible to declare the unforeseen hotel costs at your travel insurance. Do you have a travel insurance, sir?”

Caller: “Yes, I do. So, I should declare the hotel costs there?”

Me: “Best thing you could do, sir. You should contact that insurance to check that.”

Caller: “But how about the repair costs?”

Me: *tactically* “Well… usually that is not a part of the roadguard insurance, either.”

Caller: “Well, I have been a member for ten years, and have paid my insurance premium every time, without any trouble or damage. I think that should be worth something. If not, why do I have an insurance?”

Me: “For road help, sir, which you got. We covered that.”

Caller: “Is there really no way?”

Me: “Well, you could try to declare the hotel costs through our declaration form. However, I can’t guarantee any success.”

(I’m just saying this in order to finish the call. I know this won’t work, but at least the guy will stop, and I have pointed out it might not work.)

Caller: “Okay, I’ll go to my travel insurance with the hotel bill. And I’ll try to declare the garage costs through your online form. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll simply terminate my insurance with you.”

(That means he won’t get any covered assistance at all next time. With an insurance, he could contact us and report his problem to us in his mother tongue, while we sent out the order to the foreign roadguard and covered the costs of that, which in a worst-case scenario can cost over €350!)

Doesn’t Know Any F-Words

, , , | Right | October 14, 2018

(Because we work with Americans, as well as many international clients, we get a lot of interesting people. The best way to get any information to prospective clients is through email. This is one exchange I had with a prospective client.)

Me: “All right. What I can do is send you all the information you are asking for through email, and CC an agent so that she may answer any questions you have.”

Client: “Okay.”

Me: “All right, what’s your name?”

(The client spells out his name slowly, using the “B as in ‘Boy’” thing.)

Me: *inwardly* “Thank goodness! I don’t think I would ever understand him.” *outwardly* “All right, and your email?”

(The client begins spelling out his email using same technique, then says:)

Client: “F as in ‘Edward,’ at [rest of email].”

Me: “Um… Okay, just to make sure I have this down correctly—”

(I begin spelling out the email and put extra emphasis on the F.)

Client: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, I will get this information to you by the end of the day.”

Client: “Thank you!”

(It ended up being an E. I don’t blame him, though; an F is just an E without a bottom!)

Ensuring That Insuring Is The Law

, , , , | Legal | October 10, 2018

(I work in a call center for a large insurance company. Two things are important to know: first, just because I am not in an office talking face to face, it does not mean that I know less than other agents; I had to pass the same test and get the same licence they did. Second, for those who don’t know, Maryland has some of the stricter insurance laws in the country. They fine you per day you don’t have insurance on a car that is registered, coming to about $2,500 per year per car, with no maximum. They also usually aren’t willing to allow you to even start paying on the fine until you have insurance again.)

Customer: “I just got back from MVA [Maryland DMV] and was trying to renew the registration on my car, and they told me that I have a fine to pay because of you guys.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Let me see if I can find your policy and get this sorted out for you. Do you have your policy number or phone number?”

(The customer gives me his phone number and I try to find a policy for him. Eventually I do, but I find a problem right away.)

Me: “Sir, is it possible that you have the policy under a different phone number?”

Customer: “No. That is the only phone number I have ever had.”

Me: “Okay, well, I found a policy that you had with us, but it cancelled two years ago.”

Customer: “Is that why you are fining me?”

Me: “No, sir. We are not fining you. The state of Maryland is probably fining you for having a vehicle registered and not having insurance on it.”

Customer: “How the h*** would they know?”

Me: “All insurance companies that operate in the state of Maryland are required to report when policies start and end on vehicles.”

Customer: “So, you told them to fine me. You guys are going to pay this fine, then. Why was my policy cancelled in the first place?”

Me: “The policy cancelled due to non-payment. And we don’t tell the state to fine you; we can only report your insurance status with us. For all we knew, you reinsured elsewhere.”

Customer: “Well, I didn’t. So, you guys are going to pay off my fine and tell MVA that I have insurance so that I can drive again.”

Me: “We won’t pay the fine for you — it is your responsibility to keep insurance on your car — but I can try to get you reinsured with us.”

Customer: “NO! I don’t need your g**d*** insurance. I let that policy cancel because I realised how much I’ve paid in insurance over the years and never had an accident. I don’t want to be a part of your scam anymore. Just tell the state I have insurance so that I can drive again. And pay my fine; it’s your fault, anyway.”

Me: “You want us to pay $5,000 for you and lie to the state for you so that you can go back to breaking the law?”

Customer: “I’m not paying for your scam anymore! You do what I say!”

Me: “We are not doing that. Have a nice day.”