Insurance: Boring But Necessary!


Yup. That’s a bummer. If he had hit me straight on the impact absorbers would probably have helped avoid this much damage. But of course, he swerved to try to avoid me…

It was a crazy December and January for my family.  I got into a car accident on the way to work, and a neighbor flooded his unit which leaked into my unit.  Also, our bank got bought out by another bank, but that’s a different story for a different post.

It was these first two things that really threw us for a loop.  I had to call the insurance company of the guy who flooded my condo (his tenant left the bathtub running and apparently fell asleep…).  After months of discussion with them, they have issued a check to fix damage related to water spots at various places on my ceiling. However, they have yet to cut a check for a mold inspection, which my wife and i consider vital before doing any painting.

On the auto end of the story, it was a grueling journey but we finally reached a resolution. When i was hit, i was severely impacted by the guy behind me, which pushed me into a sweet lady in front of me.  Thus, there was damage to both the front and back of my vehicle.

Now, at the time of the accident we only carried liability insurance.  The guy who hit me’s insurance company, American Family, decided to pay for the rear damage to the vehicle but not the front.  This put me in the unfavorable position of having to fight for myself, as our insurance company would only cover liability for other people’s damage that we caused.

After politely asking the American Family adjustor to reconsider, all I got was push back.  It became clear to me very quickly that they were not working in my best interest.  Because of the business model of the insurance industry, payouts for claims are kept to an absolute minimum.  Only at the threat of litigation would a lower level insurance adjustor give second thought to the demands of the claimant – particularly if the claimant is not insured with their company.

This dragged on for weeks.  It eventually reached the point where, in mid-January, I was calling the same number every day, at the same time on a break at work.  I resolved that I wasn’t going to let them push me around – after all, I was there at the scene and they were not.  I followed all the correct procedures, and still justice wasn’t getting served.

Finally, after about two dozens phone calls, and after going through five different people at three levels within the organization, they relented.  I got a call at work the other day letting me know that finally, they had agreed to pay for the damage done to the front of our car.  This was about a $1000 repair for the front alone (don’t even ask how much the back cost to repair) so it was quite relieving.

I say all this not so you can feel sorry for me, but more as a cautionary tale.  If at all possible, buy comprehensive and collision insurance for your vehicle if you are not willing to completely pay out of pocket to replace it.  In our case, the car is kind of at the inflection point on the depreciation schedule – old enough to only be worth a fraction of its value brand new, but still young enough to where it would bring a decent amount if traded in.  This being the case, the repair costs paid by American Family were still less than the value of the car in its damaged state.

Needless to say, we have switched insurance companies and now have full coverage.  I used to think that liability was the only necessary product for car owners – why pay for all of that extra stuff?  Now, I see why.  It’s not just the financial risk that you’re shouldering onto the insurance companies’ back – that matters – it’s also the emotional and time risk that you’re paying to have taken off of you as well.  I’ll certainly tell you, I wish I could have avoided making all those phone calls!