I’m one of the lucky ones in America today; I’m still able to afford my auto insurance. Well, mostly. Recently my 17 year old son was in his first auto accident, and it was a doozey. A tire blow-out sent him over the edge of a mountain road with no guard rail and rolling down a ravine. He’s fine, but my truck is scrap.
The second thing you want to do when this happens, after you first make sure they’re o.k., is to tell them to wait until you arrive before they talk to anyone. Amazingly I arrived at the scene just as the police and fire department were arriving due to the remoteness of the scene. This meant that I got to be there while the accident scene was being investigated. And I was also fortunate that I’ve been on the other side of that pen and knew what questions they were going to ask my son.
The police determined that my son was not speeding, was driving legally, and that it was the tire blow out that caused the accident. No guard rail meant that there was nothing to stop his tire from going off the side of the road, once that happened the high center of gravity took over and the rolling began before the forward motion could end. Sometimes there is no fighting Newton’s laws.
When the insurance company (I won’t use their name) took their statement they agreed with the traffic investigator and ruled that my son was zero percent at fault. And they sent that to me in writing (fortunately). But a few weeks later I was shocked to see an amended auto policy notice arrive and my premium had gone up over 200%. The letter stated that this had been done because (and this was typed in by a robot), “driver struck fixed object”. A call to my agent revealed that my insurance company, who un-ethically has moved all their workers to the Philippines, had determined that because my son struck a tree that he was now 100% at fault.
Since I don’t speak Filipino it took a while to explain to them that the ‘fixed object’, a tree in this case, was struck with the ‘top’ of the vehicle after it rolled down the ravine. If my insurance company were ethical and had kept their jobs in America they wouldn’t have made this mistake. In the end I had to scan and email to the Philippines a copy of the American insurance adjusters report showing zero percent liability. It took a few weeks for the policy revision to arrive, but when it did my rate hadn’t gone back to where it was. More calls and emails and I learned that ‘somehow’ all of my policy discounts (multi-car, home insurance bundle, good student) hadn’t been re-applied to the corrected policy. And ‘somehow’ my camping trailer had been listed on the policy as a motorized vehicle.
You don’t have to speak Filipino to know what was going on here. Two months, a dozen phone calls, dozens of emails, four faxes, and a few lessons in how to speak Filipino later, an adjusted policy finally arrived. Of course it wasn’t completely back to what it was before the accident. The explanation I got in broken English was that some discount previously available in California had been ended by the California Insurance Commissioner. I knew it was a lie of course, but what did I expect? If they are unethical enough to send American jobs overseas they’re not above a few lies.
In the end I got not only an education but a savings of 60% as well. Of course that is one way to look at it, in the end my policy was about 10% higher than before the accident. I also learned that I need to have a better understanding of Filipino to communicate with customer service departments of unethical American companies.