Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Jeep is in the Shop

So the insurance company is clueless.  Not an earth-shattering discovery by any stretch. Being clueless gives them a distinct advantage to screw you over, since anything you say will fall on deaf, or worse, stupid ears.

I was in a car accident a few weeks ago, and my file is still not resolved.  Immediately I think to myself: it must be my fault, I must have done something wrong, I must be wanting too much.

The first estimate that I got for my Jeep’s damage was in the 4000$ range.  That’s quite a bit of money, but considering the impacted sheet metal, it’s not all that bad, it’s just expensive.  This is from the insurance-company appointed shop no less.

First feedback I got was this amount is more than the Jeep is worth. - “Houston, we have a problem.”

I bide my time and remain relatively quiet, as we are so early in the game, anything can still change.  The insurance company decides to get a second evaluation from one of their other estimator shops.  Comes out to 2500$.

That’s a 1500$ difference.  I check again… yep, 1500$.  That’s not even close!  Oh, and by the way, I have to pay for devaluation, in the amount of 491.64$ and have a 500$ deductible to pay.

My time stops biding. I started raising some ruckus.  I can understand being off by 10% or 20% but this is damned near 40%, even 50% if I count the 491.64$ that I’d have to fork out.  This simply will not do.

I called my insurance adjuster, collected the phone number for the estimator and start talking with people.  Even this early in the game, the second estimator is out to lunch and I’m already convinced he’s forgotten a mess of things.  I asked him specifically about the drive train and steering components.  He claimed nothing was off.  Keep in mind, this guy came to glare at my truck, in my driveway, nothing but a flashlight and his so-called experience to establish how badly I’m going to get screwed.

Back to the adjuster, I asked him what this devaluation was all about, and he answered, cocky and sure as can be, this is what it is and that I can check with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.  I told him to check with his own superiors and by the way, I wasn’t paying any deductible on an accident where I was clearly not at fault.  The deductible was waived.

Devaluation is a tab they stick you with, if you have an older car and they can’t find used parts for it.  In other words, you are paying extra for their incompetence of being unable to properly source parts for your vehicle.  In my innocence, I thought that’s what insurance premiums were adjusted for.  

I got back to my first estimator - the 4000$ guy - and asked him what he thought of all this.  Being a consummate customer service rep, he remained non-committal but assured me he was going to look into this 1500$ difference.  He’ll be the one doing the work, so it’s in his best interest to charge proper amounts.

Nevertheless, I called my insurance broker and brought her up to date on what I thought was going on.  My unhappiness is evident, especially with regards to the devaluation.  I used the analogy: “you’ve won an all expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean for 2 weeks!  But you have to pay for your own airplane ticket.”  Fuck that!  I ain’t going.  I’ll drive to New Jersey and go camping for less, out of my pocket.

A few days went by and then a few more.  I didn’t really care at this point, since I’ve got a 2005 Grand Cherokee as a loaner, a really nice truck.   Of course, this is part of my insurance premium as well, that I should get a loaner in case of accidents.

Eventually I got fed up and started making some calls again.  I spoke with the insurance company again.  A sweet young thing named Corinne in Montreal tells me that there is no devaluation to be had!  Eventually I spoke again with my own adjuster, while not apologizing, he at least admitted there was no devaluation, as Corinne had said, and as I had suspected all along.

My proposal was to bring the truck in for service, but to start with the damaged springs and an alignment to prove that no further mechanical damage was present.  These 4x4 trucks have very complex machinery operating underneath and anything out of alignment will cause massive and expensive damage.  The proposal was accepted and finally, after almost 4 weeks, the Jeep was finally in the shop.

My 4000$-friend at the shop told me to get in touch with the insurance company again, to make a final call as to scrapping the truck or to fix it.  The final evaluation was set at 3400$ for damages, a damned sight better than 2500$, but the Jeep’s worth is apparently still set between 3000$ and 4000$.

I had to get upset again.  This model-year & mileage Jeep is worth more like 7000$.  Again, I could accept a 10% to 20% difference, given the rust and so forth, but 50%?  These people are either stupid, or ignorant, or playing the screw-you game.  I’m not sure which is the worse option.
I must admit, however, that I have collected all the Jeep ads in the Auto-Trader since I got rammed.  So I wasn’t entirely surprised by the approach, I did see this argument coming since day one.  As it is, there are no 1995 Jeep YJ with 100K km for under 7000$. Most are at 5000$ to 6000$ with but with well over 150K.

The decision was easy to make, they could scrap the truck if they wanted, but I wasn’t intent on taking less than 5500$.  Anything below this, they could bloody-well fix.  So the Jeep is presently in the shop, and I’m holding my breath waiting for the next catastrophe.  This isn’t over yet.

Depending how this finally turns out, I may have to take a trip to Costco and get a jar of Vaseline, and as a Christmas gift, send it to my adjuster.

PS.  I have not divulged the name of the insurance company, nor the adjuster, nor the estimators.  I don’t want to run the risk of negatively influencing my settlement.  Email me if you really want to know who is involved.


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