Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Tale of Two Insurances

Chey’s Little Truck in Happier Times
Written 24 July, 2009

A Tale of Two Insurances

Maybe if I had gotten an M.B.A. instead of an M.A. I would understand why the insurance business is the way it is.

I rarely write about my life on Earth in this blog, but since I just wrote about my first automobile, and since I’ve been spending the last three months dealing with the aftereffects of people running into my little Isuzu pickup for no good reason, and because the long-delayed outcome has turned out to be a happy one for me, here goes.

I drive a little 1993 Isuzu pickup which I bought in 2001 on eBay for $2200. I flew from Atlanta to Tampa and picked it up and drove it home on tires which had become square because the truck had sat so long on the dealer’s lot (THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP for 600 miles is NOT fun!). I bought four new tires at Sam’s Club, spend $200 or so to replace the catalytic converter, and have been driving more-or-less happily ever since. Now the Isuzu, which was eight years old and had 89,000 miles when I bought it, is 16 years old and the odometer shows 140,000 miles.

In April, while I was stopped in traffic, a Chevy Monte Carlo slammed into me from the rear, making a mash of my back bumper and mangling the Chey’s front end.

The driver presented an insurance card to the policeman who responded to the call, but when I called his insurance company the adjuster was unsure whether the gentleman in question was or was not insured. It took two full months, with me bugging the adjuster every other day, for him to decide the inured wasn’t in fact the insured. It took further arm-twisting to get a letter from him attesting that fact.

With his letter in hand, I filed an uninsured motorist claim on my own insurance policy.

While that was underway a distraught woman in an ancient Ford Econoline van backed into me at the grocery store, caving in the driver’s side rear quarter panel (although not badly). We exchanged information and I phoned her insurance company, which was prepared to cut me a check—but she refused to talk to them. Presumably, she operates under the if-you-ignore-it-it-will-go-away strategy of life. I hope her daughter got out of jail.

Under pressure from me, her insurance company sent her a you’d-better-talk-to-us-if-you-want-to-remain-our-insured letter. When she finally contacted them and confirmed she had hit me, they sent me a check for $1260 for damage I don’t intend to have repaired. Good enough.

Meanwhile I left my truck at the body shop and rented a miserable little Chrysler which I’ve been driving about all week.

Today I phoned the body shop—which I had specifically told to make sure they had the parts needed to repair the Isuzu before taking it in for repair— and asked if I could pick up my truck. The told me they couldn’t get the very parts I had asked them to make sure they had on hand, so the truck hadn’t been repaired. I distinctly remember using the F word.

I was terribly annoyed at the body shop for the rental car expense I had incurred in NOT getting my truck repaired—but that annoyance was mitigated by a call from my insurance company not two minutes later.

The very nice lady on the phone told me that since Isuzu no long makes the parts needed for the repair, she was prepared to do one of three things:

* Cut me a check for $1050 and call it a day

* Total the truck, take possession of it, and give me a check for $2250.

* Cut me a check for $1250 and call the truck cosmetically totaled. I would keep it, and would be able to sell it, but I would be required to show her proof the smashed taillight had been repaired and I would have to send her copies of my driver’s license and the truck’s title and registration.

My day had brightened considerably.

I mean, when you buy a vehicle for $2200, drive it for eight years, get checks for more than the purchase price, and still get to keep a truck you can drive every day or sell for $1200 or so, it’s a happy thing.

I’ve not yet decided which of the three options I’ll take. The third sounds good, but I’m suspicious of getting my vehicle blacklisted as cosmetically damaged when you have to look really closely to see it’s less than perfect. It hardly seems fair to the truck.

The second option would let me replace the aging truck with something newer and less worn. That’s appealing, because the truck will be sitting in my drive for three months this fall. I could buy a replacement vehicle upon my return— but I have to get back and forth until the end of August, and I don’t relish being on the bus for a month.

I’m thinking I’ll go with the third option. I’ll put a big fat check in my pocket (actually, I plan to use it to repay a loan), buy a bumper from an aftermarket parts maker just down the street, pay someone fifty bucks to install it, find a replacement taillight at a junkyard or on eBay and install it myself, and call it a day.

Late Breaking News: I just grabbed a tail light on eBay for $15 plus $9.99 shopping.It was a steal, as a new one is like $180.00.

No comments: