Insurance hell: The hard lessons I’m learning!

29 Dec

I try to keep this blog from being all about me. I also try to keep it free of pure rants and raves.

But I am learning some serious, scathing car insurance lessons right now, and I believe everyone should hear my warnings!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have been in winter hell here as of late. So, I had been leaving my much-more dependable, but rear-wheel-drive, car at home. I opted to take my old 4×4 snow buggy, rough territory rider, work “beater” instead. I thought this would be safer for both my car and me.

Wrong.

Sometime within the course of about four days, my car was sideswiped twice — in two directions — on its passenger side. A “witness neighbor” saw this guy in a white pickup do this and actually made verbal contact with him. The witness actually yelled at the asshat who did this — and got a look at him. The asshat replied with something like, “Yeah, I’ll deal with it later.” Obviously, he never has. A second neighbor helping me shovel snow to get my 4×4 dug out (The snow was THAT bad) told me. I took one look at my car — with its smashed quarter-panel, punctured side flare with plastic molding ripped off, warped door and cracked fender — and the one emotion that overwhelmed me is total, hellish rage.

Some people I know may look at this as an egotistical thing because they know I highly prize my sports car — that I bought nearly brand new and for $10,000 less than a new one. I have worked practically my entire life to have this car I have named Lita. I started buckling down in school when I was in the sixth grade, knowing an education was the only way out of my situation at that time. Probably the first item on my to-do list was buying a car that wasn’t flying apart. Now, she seems all I have to show for all these years of hard work. I’ve taken care of her, and I don’t abuse her by driving 150 mph, burning up tires, killing transmissions, etc. She’s also almost PAID OFF.

So, you see, this wasn’t just a car for me. This was my life’s work. I take great pride in everything I work to build, and I’ll be damned if someone tries to take it away from me.

Merry Frickin’ Christmas, huh?

I calmed down considerably by last Tuesday. I thought, “OK, so this guy probably won’t be found. Time to start working with the insurance company and get this car fixed.” That’s when I found myself dealing with a whole new nightmare. This already-dramatic situation suddenly turned into a bad “Days of our Lives” episode.

See, there’s basically three types of insurance you can purchase for your car. Each can have its own deductible, and some are required by law/lien holders. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of them:

Liability: This covers stuff you would do to someone else. It covers what you would do to the other vehicle, person, etc. This the bare minimum you must have, by law (in most states).

Comprehensive: This covers your basic “acts of God”: Storm damage, vandalism, theft, etc. My dad always kept this even on the crappiest cars when I was growing up. We saw a huge tree crash onto my grandfather’s Chevette one day, and that was enough.

Collision: This covers you and your vehicle whenever you do something that’s your own fault. Adding this on top of liability and comprehensive gives you the “full coverage” most banks require on cars that still have liens against them.

I called my insurance company to get the ball rolling on my claim during the middle of last week. That’s when I got another bomb dropped on me: This would not qualify for comprehensive. It would be filed under COLLISION! My deductible for collision is ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. While I was angrily screaming into the phone because this was the last damn thing I needed dumped on my lap, I asked this lady to please explain why the hell something used to cover things I DID would be used to cover something SOMEONE ELSE DID.

I even told this man with whom I spoke later to please tell me why someone slamming my car and taking off is covered under — and has the same deductible as — the same part of my insurance that would cover me if I were driving 100 mph and singing stuff from “A Very Cannibal Corpse Christmas” at the top of my lungs before slamming into a tree. He told me the claim would be filed under the “negligence” subcategory of collision in that case, but not in mine. But yes, they would be in the same category and the same deductible. What the hell?!

Basically, the first lady explained, comprehensive only covers vandalism in the form of someone beating your car with a crowbar, baseball bat, etc. I asked why use of another vehicle didn’t count. It just wasn’t covered, I guess, because someone didn’t have an actual weapon in hand. This person used his pickup truck as a weapon, but I’m guessing that doesn’t count here. Again, what the hell?!

There was a loophole that would help me, though. I had coverage for damage done by uninsured motorists. This coverage applies to people who don’t own up to what they have done. That was obviously the case here. The deductible was only $300 (like I have that kind of money lying around, either.), but it was surely better than paying $1,000. It was also less than my $500 comprehensive deductible. I just had to wait for someone to call me from the company’s home office that next day to find out. I had one seriously long day at work then.

Well, I will give my insurance company credit. They did come through for me as much as they could, and I get a free rental car for whatever duration it takes to get my car fixed. I’ve decided to take the free car because I’m totally relying on my beater for everything now. I just have to be able to get my car out of the snow on a day off to take it to the shop I’ve picked out. If I could get this other driver and his insurance, he would have to pay. I would get this done for free. That just burns me the hell up knowing that he’s going to probably get away with this.

So, kiddies, here’s a few lessons you should learn from this drama:

Find out exactly what each part of your policy covers and doesn’t cover: Take a long, hard look at what is and isn’t covered in your coverage. Make your agent draw out a list and sign off on it if you must have them do that. Find out what has to be covered under parts of your insurance that may cost more. Just like I was surprised that comprehensive coverage wouldn’t cover my situation, I was shocked as hell to see what it did cover. I went through my parents’ policy once to find out comprehensive covers missile damage. That’s comforting to know in case we have Scuds raining on us. It’s just too bad that it doesn’t cover thugs as long as those thugs were in a vehicle.

Could you handle those deductibles?: I confess that probably setting a collision deductible at $1,000 wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to do. It was just the right decision at a time when my back was against the wall. West Virginia’s vehicle insurance rate is through the roof, and when I came back from Florida, I was slapped in the face in the worst kind of way. I was younger than 25 (then), was (and still am) single and had (and still have) a sports car. Even though I had (and still have) no at-fault accidents, my car was still too new to my policy for the accident-free discount. I could totally afford all of this in Florida, even with these circumstances. I just couldn’t for West Virginia. So I started playing with things here and there to reduce my monthly rate.

Thank God I caught a break here. But it could have been far worse. I could have REALLY, REALLY paid for that mistake.

What I really want for Christmas is for Mr. Pickup Truck Asshat to pay up.

I’ll keep you posted as I’m sure I’ll continue to learn from this horrible experience. I’m also just clearing my head enough to wrap my mind around all that’s happened.

I just want to crawl into a hole and hibernate through the rest of 2009. Good riddance, decade!

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6 Responses to “Insurance hell: The hard lessons I’m learning!”

  1. wvfurandroot December 29, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    My sympathies, honestly. However, be thankful you were not injured in a rear-end accident by an employee of a mega-huge corporation that is self-insured. Nearly 3 years now, and lawyer says it’ll be another 15 months, minimum, before I see a dime. When you take a look at your insurance policy, also take a look at “med pay” – this is the amount your insurance company will fork over without respect to whose fault it was. It corks me to no end that I have to sue the scum suckers because they’re afraid I’m going to sue them and thus have put up a gazillion barriers to keep from paying out a cent. The driver admitted fault to the cops at the scene of the accident. Go figure.

    • flatbrokegirl December 29, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

      Oh God… All I can say is that I hope you — and this company — get what is deserved!

      Yeah, there are some seriously strange insurance procedures out there. In the meantime, I’m sure you’re bogged down with medical bills and bill collectors, correct? One of my friends whose wife just had a baby told me he practically gets bill collectors calling before he gets the chance to look at them.

      It frustrates me to no end that we all pay these premiums in case stuff like this happens, and it fails!

  2. 2berrys December 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    That blows. I still never understand why sometimes the rates of the driver who was not at fault go up. Happened to me and I was the one who was hit. I bet that dude had no insurance and you’d be right back where you are now. At least after all the initial aggravation, you are only paying $300. What a relief.

    • flatbrokegirl December 30, 2009 at 9:13 am #

      Supposedly, my rates won’t go up, but I will still have to cough up the deductible. One of my cop friends told me the guy was likely drunk when he did this because that’s the usual motive of scene-leavers. I’ve covered a lot of accidents where drivers left the scene, and they usually do it if they’re drunk, driving with a suspended license (often due to DUI) or driving with no insurance. Sometimes, it’s a combo. It’s nice so nice that people like us have to pay up for people like them!

  3. brookeamanda December 30, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    I feel for you! I work in a mall, so my car gets hit a million times…I have so many dings and scratches it’s unreal. And I also HATE dealing with all that insurance lingo.

    • flatbrokegirl December 30, 2009 at 9:16 am #

      I used to work in a mall myself. I’m sure you probably look at some of your more charming *cough* customers and think, “Are you the asshole who hit my car? It had to be you!”

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