Wednesday, April 5, 2017

This Will Be Painful, I Insure You

Three months ago, some yahoo up in Oregon talked himself out of chaining up his two-wheel-drive Nissan sedan in a blizzard, then promptly slid across the highway in front of our Suburban. Unfortunately, both vehicles were moving at the time, and the end result was a pretty decent head-on collision, followed by four hours of standing on the side of the highway in a snowstorm.

Good times.

When our vehicles collided, all eight of the airbags in our Suburban deployed. ("Deploy" is a fun euphemism for "loudly explode into your face and fill car with smoke.") When that happened, the OnStar system immediately sprang into action and alerted insurance agents and adjusters in three states that it was time to do their jobs very poorly.

I like my insurance company. Or at least, I want my insurance company to keep liking me, so I’m not going to mention their name here. The other guy’s insurance company rhymes with Allstate.

The next morning, I spoke on the phone with the third-party insurance adjuster who would be collecting the scrap heap that was our car, and described the collision, the damage, and the fact that all the airbags had gone off. She told me that the car was definitely totaled, and we would never see it again. So, we fished all the loose change out of the ashtray and left the wreckage of our Suburban at Caveman Towing in Grants Pass, Oregon, heading home to California, where we would eagerly await our total loss settlement check.

A week later some idiot from some third-party adjuster company called me to say that my Suburban was at a salvage yard in Eugene, Oregon, and good news! – It looks like it’s repairable!

I realize you guys legalized weed up there, but I really don’t think that means that it’s OK to smoke dope while you’re on the job, dude. Say again? You want to repair it? Might I remind you that all eight air bags went off? The interior of the car looks like a one-star hotel room in Fallujah, and the front looks like it was hit with the same Stinger missile that dropped the hotel rating down from a three.

Well, we need to do a full estimate on it, but it looks promising. Do you have a favorite repair shop?

A favorite repair shop? In Eugene, Oregon? A town where I don’t live in a state where I don’t live? Hmm… Is Big Tony’s Creole Grill and Auto Body still in business? No? OK, then, I guess you can pick your favorite, Skippy.

A week later the good news came down from the north. The Suburban is repairable! The Oregon estimate came back at $12,000.

Uh… $12,000? Was that just the interior estimate, or did you make the common mistake of confusing my Suburban with that Maserati that had a scratch on the hood?

Can I see a copy of that estimate, please? Uh… You guys only have an hour and a half of “frame inspection and repair labor” listed on here. Did you miss the part about how it was a head-on collision that reduced a Nissan sedan to the size of a juice box? And what an adorable labor rate you used. Why don’t we tow it down here for a California estimate, where they aren’t planning to repair it at the preschool with clay and Legos.

Fast forward another week and the California repair shop calls to tell me that the Suburban arrived and has some rear bumper damage. Hmm… Nope. The rear bumper was the one part of the car not involved in the accident.

Yeah, the tow truck driver seemed to think that might be fork lift damage. The drive shaft is separated and laying on the ground, too.

Oh, goody. Was my car being scavenged for parts at the Oregon salvage yard before someone said, “Whoops. Hey, put that transmission back in, they want to tow it down to California instead.”? And, great news about the new bumper damage! I was beginning to worry that no one would get to pick my car up with a forklift during this process. I’m glad we checked that box off.

I was skeptical before, but if we’ve been sticking giant steel beams under my car and lifting it up like it was a pallet of Huggies at Costco, I really want it back now! Get going on that estimate!

Fast forward what seemed to be nine or ten years and the California shop calls with the good news. The estimate is up to $19,000 now, but it’s not a total loss, yet. It’s still repairable!

Wow, that is fantastic news, a full two months after the crash. How much “frame inspection and repair labor” do you have in there? Oh, an entire two hours this time. That should be plenty. Let’s get going on the repairs. We crashed on January 2nd, and I’d like to have my car back for next New Year’s, if possible.

Fast forward another month, and almost exactly three months after Captain Slides-A-Lot ruined our travel plans, the California repair shop called back with the “bad” news.

Wow, so sorry to tell you this, but after getting your car up on the frame measuring machine, it turns out that the frame will need to be completely replaced. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be a total loss.

Yeah, wow, what an unfortunate turn of events that I never could have seen coming. Gee, I’m so sad for your repair shop’s loss of revenue. Too bad we didn’t put it up on the frame measuring machine THREE MONTHS AGO!!

Like I said, I’m not going to mention their name here, but I would venture a guess that I have one of the best insurance companies a driver can have, and they still suck this bad. How on Earth is frame measuring machine not the first thing they demand from whatever third-party stoner organization is tasked with inspecting the vehicle? Do they just love spending my money? Don’t answer that.

And as far as the other guy’s insurance company goes – don’t even get me started. My wife was bruised pretty heavily by the seatbelt, and when we mentioned that, they immediately went into frantic mode while trying to use their caring and compassionate voices.

I almost believed they cared until I received the letter explaining how they would calculate an injury settlement, if there needed to be one. They explained that injuries and their associated monetary values are calculated with their handy insurance computer program named… wait for it… “Colossus.”  – I am not making that up.

Colossus? Are you nice folks so far removed from the realm of actual humanity that you can’t even hear how ridiculously ominous that sounds? Seriously? I have an idea. Let’s be real. Let’s all just cut the crap and rename it to sound even more truthful. That way you don’t have to go through the charade of using your caring voice.

I’m thinking the “We’re Going to Screw You Over-inator” has a better ring to it.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

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