Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Color Me Unimpressed

About a month ago, my husband was headed to town to do a Scout training. A few miles from our house, he had a close encounter with a herd of deer that had been spooked by hunters. Four or five deer ran into the side of his car. The resulting damage: both doors caved in, driver's window shattered, dented fender, broken bumper, dented hood, cracked windshield, destroyed windshield wiper, and both mirrors were broken. Pretty major damage. Cost $7300.
I called my insurance company, American Family, and the woman told me that my best option was to take the vehicle to their approved body shop. I could take it to any body shop, but I'd have to have an independent adjuster come out and then I'd have to get estimates and it would take a lot longer. And, American Family would not guarantee work by any other shop nor would it intervene if there were any problems. So, I had the car towed to the only approved shop in my area.

I was told that the car would be ready November 12. Since I live 30 miles away, I made arrangements for a ride so I could pick up the car. I called that morning just to be sure and found out that it was, in fact, not ready. However, the shop guy told me to come to town and he'd call me on my cell phone because he thought it'd be ready that afternoon. I did so, but the car was not ready.

I was then told it would be ready Monday and, again, arranged for a ride only to find out that, again, it would not be ready. This went on all week. Come to find out, American Family insisted that only a used door be installed on my car and the used door was a different year so it wasn't compatible with the wiring which meant the windows wouldn't roll down and the air bag wouldn't deploy if we had another accident.

Now, I've paid premiums for about 12 years or so to American Family, far more than what it cost to fix my car. I never cut corners. I never tried to get out of payments. I paid in full year after year after year. The only claim we've had in those 12 years was for $300. Yet, instead of a new door, my car now has a used door so American Family could save money. Not so I could save money, but for my insurance company to save money. Of course, they'll try to pass the costs on to me at my next renewal, charging me even more money to only have used parts put on my car should I have a need.

During this time, my agent never called. He had called my husband the day the car was towed and that was the last we'd heard from him. He never called to check on us, to see if we needed anything, or to see if there were any problems with the repairs. Not a word after that intial call to my husband--I think that was probably the second time he'd ever spoken to my husband because I've always been the one to talk to the agent and he never called to speak with me about the accident. After being his customer for about 12 years, he didn't even think to call and check on us during the 3 weeks it took to repair the car.

By the end of the week, I was frustrated because I was getting the run around from the body shop, no help from my agent, and no car for my husband to use for work. Fortunately, we have a 15-passenger van that he could use, but the additional cost for diesel for three weeks was pretty high. I did finally call my agent and when I mentioned that, he offered to sell me more insurance so I'd have rental reimbursement in the future--yeah, I'm without a car, I'm frustrated, and my agent offers to sell me more insurance. Cool.

I finally picked up the car with shattered glass still on the dashboard and I was not impressed with the way I was treated by the people in body shop.

I have to ask myself why I have an agent. I did all the phone calling. I checked on everything. What did he do besides sell me my original policy, oh, and try to sell me even more insurance? I think I'd get the same service from an online company. So, I'm going to be researching other insurance companies. My husband said that you never know how good your insurance company is until you have your first big claim. Well, I found out mine isn't so great.

I will never patronize the body shop nor will I ever buy a car from that dealership. They didn't commmunicate well and they didn't treat me very well.

All in all, I was very dissatisfied with the whole experience, but we finally have our car back and now I don't have to deal with any of them again. Moral of the story: don't have a close encounter with a deer herd.


Heather Justesen said...

Oh, Rebecca, I'm sorry you had such a hassle. What a pain! It's funny, when we went looking for a new insurance provider a few years back we tried all of those online companies and found it was MUCH cheaper to go with AAA than anyone else we could find, even with the yearly roadside assistance program (which is required for their customers), and though we had few needs for such assistance before, it has come in super handy ever since. Check around and good luck finding someone who'll work for you (and get referrals from people who've had claims in your area!)

Rebecca Irvine said...

What a lousy experience. I would definitely be calling around as well. Sounds like American Family needs some customer service training.

Anonymous said...


I'm so sorry. I had a miserable experience with a car insurance company/repair shop a few years back. I know they are necessary, but come on!

Good luck finding someone new. I wouldn't be sticking around with that guy either!