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Old 03-19-2016, 12:19 PM   #1
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Insurance Shenanigans

Long thread here but, to me, shows the general state of customer service these days.

In early February we were heading west out of Las Cruces on I-10 when I saw a small cylinder in the road ahead of me. I slowed, steered the coach to straddle it but when I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw a white cloud appear on the left side of my toad (F150). I told DW it looked like an aerosol paint can and I guess it rolled under the toad and ruptured when toad rolled over it.

While overnighting in Deming, NM, I took it to a detail shop and they washed it and tried to get the white paint off but all my black plastic trim, windows, running boards, and much of the paint on the left side of the truck is splattered with white paint. Called my State Farm agent at home and gave him the scoop and he said just call our claims folks when you get back home and it will be covered by your comprehensive, no deductible.

Fast forward to today. Called State Farm claims and was taken thru a bevy of questions that were amusing at best.

1. What date did this occur? 'Not sure, told my agent when I called him the next day. Is that in the record?'. Sorry sir, we have nothing in the record. So, I guessed at the date.

2. Told rep what happened, truck being towed by MH, ran over paint can, etc.

3. Sir, did the air bags deploy? 'No, ran over a small can of paint... like I just said.'

4. Sir, how may people were in the vehicle that hit the object? 'No one, it was being towed by a motorhome, remember?'

Then the rep continued to ask questions that were unrelated to the incident for another 10 minutes. Finally told me another rep would call me for details. My response was 'I just gave you all the details.'

Few hours later, another rep called and asked me to describe the incident. I told him I had already done that in detail. He said he had no real details so I told him again what happened.

He then told me my collision coverage would cover this and I would need to pay my deductible. When I told him this was not a 'collision' IMO and my agent agreed, he merely said that my contract would not permit this to be covered by my comprehensive since I did 'collide' with the paint can. I said OK but will my rates go up if there is a claim against my collision coverage? He could not answer and danced around that question.

So, I told him politely that I had been a State Farm customer since 1967, had all my homeowners, boat, cars, motorhome, umbrella liability coverage with them and if I paid the collision deductible and they raised my rate one penny, I'd would find another company for all my insurance.

He put me on hold for about 5 minutes and came back and told me he had discussed this with another adjuster and was instructed that since I was driving the motorhome and not the vehicle that actually struck the object, they agreed that my comprehensive (with no deductible) would apply for this claim.

Not sure that was their real logic or they just looked at my profile and decided I had paid them enough in premiums over the years that they would rather keep me than have me go elsewhere.

It was an interesting encounter. I am old enough to remember when you had a problem, you just went to your State Farm agent and he or she took care of it. These days the agents seem to be primarily order takers.
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Old 03-19-2016, 01:03 PM   #2
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They probably handled it the way they should have in the first place since that's what your agent said. Truth be told, they don't care how long you've been with them or how much you have insured, they follow their rules when handling claims.
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Old 03-19-2016, 02:07 PM   #3
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Whenever dealing with any customer service rep/agent/associate etc. I always stop them and then tell them to put down the 'book' and lets just talk FIRST

Usually get a chuckle and then OK how can I help ???

Since April 2013 ins. on truck and home has been thru Farmers
Home in. is a yearly policy/premium and has remained constant
Truck ins. is 6 mos policy/premium (no yrly ??) and each renewal it premiums have crept up $10/$20.......4th renewal went up $30.
Talked with agent -WHY the slow increases. No claims, no tickets, no vilolations, no changes so WHY??
He 'looked' into....no reason.
OK seeing as policy has already been paid I will wait until 6 mos and renewal.
Renewal......premium went up $39

Went on-line......shopped around. Same exact coverage/same provisions/same deductibles/same-same PLUS couple of added coverage and yrly premium lower than the Farmers Policy.
Phone call to Farmers Agent. Told him about the increase again. His response. If you cancel I can rewrite new policy for lower rate

I did tell him to Cancel
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Old 03-19-2016, 05:47 PM   #4
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Have been going through the same thing with our insurance agent who carries multiple providers. We have had Grange insurance for +25 years paying a total of ~$3K per year for House, 3 Cars, Boat, and RV.

At one point we switched our home owners insurance to save $$ but then 2 years later we went back to Grange.

Last year I had a claim on my motorhome, road debris damaged my radiator. I called my agent the next day and told him what I suspected but would not know for sure until shop got the radiator out. Once they did I went down there and inspected and took pictures and then called agent and confirmed I wanted to make a claim. I sent him pictures and he notified the claims rep. I got a call from the claims rep and explained what happened. She said she would call Cummins, where the motorhome was and talk to the shop foreman. The agreed that it was a claim, estimated cost was $7,900 less my $1K deductible.

Got my premium renewal notice this last week, it went up $9, which surprised me so I'm a happy camper.
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Old 03-20-2016, 05:48 AM   #5
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To me, insurance is no different than dealing with a mortgage broker or buying a car. They charge what they feel the customer will pay without too much push back. I would doubt there are standard maximum premiums in place other than what is allowed by law if any. If a Mortgage broker thinks he can get away with charging you 6.9%, he will. Same with insurance. Shop around. I tell them the exact coverage(s) I want and what I am willing to pay, I have had good luck this way.
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Old 03-20-2016, 06:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old-Biscuit View Post
Truck ins. is 6 mos policy/premium (no yrly ??) and each renewal it premiums have crept up $10/$20.......4th renewal went up $30.
Talked with agent -WHY the slow increases. No claims, no tickets, no vilolations, no changes so WHY??
He 'looked' into....no reason.
There is no real justification for the "premium creep". Anytime I have asked about it, the "excuse" is that the company has incurred increased costs in my region/state/area/city, etc., etc., etc. Policy renewals are automated...the computer just kicks up the premium by some factor that gently increases the margins. Have a claim and see how much your premium increases! That's why most only issue six month policies...more opportunities to "adjust" premiums. Let's hope they don't start writing policies on a DAILY basis!!!
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Old 03-20-2016, 06:32 AM   #7
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I was an Agent for State Farm for 28 years. I do believe that it is a good company. I retired after 35 years with them, the 1st 7 as a claims adjuster. They put in this new claims system a few years ago that they ask standard questions for every claim. I did not like it. The agent as far as I know still has the ability to handle a non-complicated claim out of their office up to 5000.00. I used to handle as many claims out of my office as I could because my clients liked working with me more than a claims person they didn't know. The problem for the company is compliance and government regulations. They have to standardize everything so all people are treated the same or they get sued. Insurance is one of the most regulated industries there is. One of the reasons I retired.
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Old 03-20-2016, 06:38 AM   #8
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About the same when dealing with satellite TV service providers. They don't understand the concept of an RV. How you have hit something going down the road but no one was driving? There's no box to check on the form for towing behind an RV.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:02 AM   #9
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Sometimes you need to put yourself in the seat of the person at the other end of the phone. Do everything you can to fit into the "normal" box that the person is trained and authorized to handle, and think about how to communicate with them to achieve the outcome you desire.

In this instance, what happened is the vehicle hit a can of spray paint and damaged the exterior of the vehicle. Plain and simple. Don't confuse the situation trying to explain that it was being towed behind an RV, it is not relevant.

Just say, when I was driving (yes, you were driving) the vehicle ran over a paint can. Yes, my wife was with me (yes, she was). End of conversation. No need to bring up that you were drivng the RV and towing it; it's not pertinent to the story the insurance agent needs to do thier work and accomplish the outcome you wish to achieve. You are not lying, you are just simplifying the story leaving out confusing details that are really not relevant. And by doing so, your claim now falls into the 99.9% solution box the agents are trained to deal with. Throw in the RV part, and now you are the 0.1% problem case......

And if there is some nuance to a situation that is relevant, try to put off bringing that topic up until you have agreement on everything else about the situation that fits into the "normal box". That way you have a long list of "yes, I understand" before you need to work around the more difficult nuance, and have built a rapport with the person trying to help you, and they may be able to figure out a work around that still fits into thier box even with the nuance.

I just had a conversation with Direct TV, again, long story, but what I did NOT do was bring up that one receiver is in my MH, as it would only create more confusion to the situation I was trying to resolve. And, in the end, I achieved what I was trying to........

Regards
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:34 AM   #10
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I had a similar experience with Nationwide after I hit a truck tire tread while driving one of our cars. Damaged the grill a bit. I filed an online claim form, which clearly was designed for vehicle-vehicle collisions, so my answers didn't fit very well. A few hours later I got a phone call from a claims rep who pretty much asked all the same questions again, making me wonder why I bothered to fill the several pages of the online form. But it didn't take long and I was assured this was a not a "chargeable accident, so OK, Then 30 minutes later another rep called with much the same questions. I told him it was all on their records now, twice in fact, but he persisted. Eventually I learned he was concerned only that there was no liability claim involved anywhere. Nobody injured, no other property damaged, that sort of thing. His job was to independently verify that, in case the company needed to take immediate action to avoid a lawsuit.

The above comment about them trying to fit things into the "normal" box is on-target, I think. They have go through the questions shown on their computer screen whether they apply or not. They don't have the authority to skip any either. Human judgement is not allowed to be exercised.
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:12 AM   #11
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Jerry has his finger on the problem. I agree that it is a good company, but like most, they have challenges keeping up with business and social changes.

I spent over 30 years with the State Farm claim department. When I was hired it was to work in one of our hundreds, at the time, of satellite claim offices. We worked directly with the agents and clients from the communities we were part of. When I was assigned a file I was responsible for it from the day it was reported to the day it was paid and closed. I had the ability and opportunity to visit directly with both the agents assigned to our office, or my desk, and our customers. The average claim handler experience was something north of 10 years. I was completely immersed in all facets of your claim and anytime you called you'd only have to update me on anything new since we last spoke.

Competition and legislation forced changes in the industry. State Farm closed the majority of our satellite office operations in favor of what I refer to as "1-800" claim handling. All of our operations were moved into "centralized" facilities, usually in large metropolitan areas. We lost a major portion of our experienced claim staff that were either unable or unwilling to move away from their hometowns. We went from virtually zero employee turnover to about 15% a year. What should have been a simple claim, such as yours, would now be processed by one of our "property claim central" locations, no longer assigned to an individual but to a "team". Anyone in that team could answer the phone when you called, whether they'd ever touched your file before that very moment or not. All contacts with our customers are supposed to be noted in the file but some are better at documentation than others. In a more complicated file it could take some time for the adjuster on the other end of the phone to read through all the notes and bring themselves up to speed. This is what is referred to as "progress".

Your claim is definitely a comprehensive claim. Had damage occurred as a result of the impact with the can, that would be a collision claim. Your damage was from the paint released when the can was destroyed, not by the can. This can be a difficult concept for a newbie to grasp. I suspect whoever you had on the phone turned to the person or supervisor next to them for a second opinion, someone that probably had a few days more experience.

Bottom line, regardless of company, when you call its a crap shoot. Will you get someone that knows what they are doing or? It's difficult keeping those claim desks occupied with experience. Its a tough job, mentally, and today's 20 somethings just aren't willing to put up with the inevitable abuse they'll take for long enough to gain that experience.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMonroe View Post
Jerry has his finger on the problem. I agree that it is a good company, but like most, they have challenges keeping up with business and social changes.

I spent over 30 years with the State Farm claim department. When I was hired it was to work in one of our hundreds, at the time, of satellite claim offices. We worked directly with the agents and clients from the communities we were part of. When I was assigned a file I was responsible for it from the day it was reported to the day it was paid and closed. I had the ability and opportunity to visit directly with both the agents assigned to our office, or my desk, and our customers. The average claim handler experience was something north of 10 years. I was completely immersed in all facets of your claim and anytime you called you'd only have to update me on anything new since we last spoke.

Competition and legislation forced changes in the industry. State Farm closed the majority of our satellite office operations in favor of what I refer to as "1-800" claim handling. All of our operations were moved into "centralized" facilities, usually in large metropolitan areas. We lost a major portion of our experienced claim staff that were either unable or unwilling to move away from their hometowns. We went from virtually zero employee turnover to about 15% a year. What should have been a simple claim, such as yours, would now be processed by one of our "property claim central" locations, no longer assigned to an individual but to a "team". Anyone in that team could answer the phone when you called, whether they'd ever touched your file before that very moment or not. All contacts with our customers are supposed to be noted in the file but some are better at documentation than others. In a more complicated file it could take some time for the adjuster on the other end of the phone to read through all the notes and bring themselves up to speed. This is what is referred to as "progress".

Your claim is definitely a comprehensive claim. Had damage occurred as a result of the impact with the can, that would be a collision claim. Your damage was from the paint released when the can was destroyed, not by the can. This can be a difficult concept for a newbie to grasp. I suspect whoever you had on the phone turned to the person or supervisor next to them for a second opinion, someone that probably had a few days more experience.

Bottom line, regardless of company, when you call its a crap shoot. Will you get someone that knows what they are doing or? It's difficult keeping those claim desks occupied with experience. Its a tough job, mentally, and today's 20 somethings just aren't willing to put up with the inevitable abuse they'll take for long enough to gain that experience.
Jay, I think you have summed it up and I appreciate hearing from folks who have worked for the company. My expectation (unrealistic in this age for sure) is that my agent should be able to handle more of this type of thing. My agent is rarely in the office whenever I have called but he has 3 or 4 folks working in the office. So I do wonder if my premiums are higher to support what appears to be higher overhead at the agent level.... he sells the insurance and has staff but he is not able/willing in the current scheme to play any role in the claims process other than tell me to call someone in 'claims'.
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Old 03-22-2016, 10:10 AM   #13
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Each region has its own criteria as to what an agent can or cannot handle (and thats likely changed since I left) and every agent has his or her own comfort level with what they are comfortable handling. These days the agents office is handling multiple products, most are insurance based, there are also banking and investment products available. The size of the staff is usually in direct proportion to the size of his/her book of business.
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Old 03-22-2016, 10:48 AM   #14
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I have one question... were you talking with Jake, from State Farm ?

Sorry, couldn't resist...
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