AllState Insurance Doesn’t Include Agent Dennis Haysbert

It turns out that if you get in an accident, Dennis Haysbert doesn’t come right to your car and console you with his big man hands and a deep voice.

Nancy was an AllState customer for 22 years, but after reading her story inside, you may understand why that’s in the past tense…


Nancy writes:

    “Last Wednesday (Jan. 17th) I was involved in a hit and run accident on a busy Chicago area expressway at rush hour. My car was hit from behind at 50 mph by some idiot who was in a big hurry to pass the car in front on him and next to me. I swerved out of control, hit another car and slammed into the concrete median, completely crushing the driver’s side of my 2001 Mazda MPV. The car that hit me left the scene, no witnesses stopped to help.

    After calling the police, I immediately called my Allstate insurance agent. Since it was after 5 p.m. I got his voicemail. I left a frantic message and then called the 800# on the back of my insurance card. Here’s where the fun starts. There I am, sitting on the left shoulder in a crushed vehicle (thankfully not injured, by some miracle!) and getting more recordings – press 1, press 2, press 1, etc. It took four transfers to get a real live person, who tells me to CALL BACK after the police report is issued.

    Fine. I call back later that evening with the police report and accident information. I spent

    hour on the phone with a nice person and filed my claim.

    The next morning I expect a call from my insurance agent. No call comes. I stayed home from work and waited. By yet another miracle I was able to drive my vehicle home. But now I have no idea what to do with it. Finally, in the late morning I called my agent. He had no clue about my accident, but proceeds to tell me that I need to deal with the claims adjuster now, he can’t help me. Oh, and by the way, I don’t have coverage for a rental car, since during the 22 YEARS I have been an Allstate customer I have never bought it. Did the man ever bother to call me to go over my policy each year when I renewed? Wouldn’t you think he’d want to check in with me periodically, to maybe try and sell me some more insurance? So here’s strike one.

    Then I wait a few more hours for the claims adjuster to call me. He finally does, only to tell me that my car has to be towed to one of Allstate’s Chicago area field assessment offices, both of which are more than 50 miles away. Oh, and it’ll be a couple DAYS before they can tow the car. I’m supposed to sit around a couple days, miss work and wait for a tow truck??? The car is in my parking space, and the village I live in has street parking ordinances where one cannot leave a car on the street overnight. I now have two cars (I went and got a rental car) and only one parking space. I need my crushed vehicle moved asap, but Allstate is “busy” and “backed up” and they just don’t know when the towing service can get to me. Strike two.

    I decided to go to work the following day (Friday) and leave the keys to the crushed car under the mat. The windows are busted out, the car has been sitting open, in the cold and snow for two days, waiting for the tow. I call the claims adjuster TWICE from my office, asking him to please let me know when the car has been towed, and to have the field office remove the plates and hold them, so I can come get them. The adjuster never called, but when I got home from work the car was gone. I’m guessing it was towed (and not stolen), but I don’t know for sure. Strike Three.

    Monday a.m. I call the adjuster again. I actually get him, and not his voicemail. I tell him how dissatisfied I am with the service I’ve been getting. I asked him why he didn’t’ call me the previous Friday. He said because I didn’t specifically “ask him to call,” so he didn’t. Huh? I am paying for a rental car out of my own pocket, I have no clue where my car is, and I need the plates back so I can eventually transfer them to another car. However, since I don’t know the status of my vehicle (I’m guessing it was a total loss, but I don’t know for sure) I don’t know where I stand financially. Hell, I don’t even know where my car IS right now. Again, no information is forthcoming, and I am passed on to yet another adjuster, the “total loss adjuster” who is supposed to call me today. Yeah, right. I’m still waiting for a call.

    I’ve been an Allstate customer for 22 years. During that time I have filed two auto claims (one car broken into and one low speed fender bender on a snowy street – wasn’t ticketed either time) and one homeowners claim (siding ripped off during a windstorm). If I recall correctly, those experiences were also frustrating. I guess history repeats itself. I have had nothing but poor service, the runaround, unreturned phone calls and aggravation.

    It’s time to switch carriers. “Good Hands”??? Yeah, I don’t think so.

    Nancy A.

    Oak Park, IL”

How about the gecko, or the duck? Are their phone trees also made of chicken wire? — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. Ran Kailie says:

    Geico can also be a pain to use, as is Progressive and State Farm. Truth is almost no insurance company is pleasant to deal with, they don’t want to have to pay out on your claim.

    As for her first strike, its her fault as well, she should review her insurance needs each year/renewal to decide if she wants extra coverage. I never have accidents so I saved money by not taking the rental coverage, in her case in the long run it probably worked out because she has only had two other previous claims for minor stuff.

    Had the person who ran, not run, she would have a rental through their insurance company. Thats how it works, the at fault party’s insurance pays, however if you get hit and run its a completely different ball game, the claim is filed against your policy and the coverages you have.

    Geico and Progressive, at least here in the DC area, have tons of offices and will actually come out to our car within 24-48 hours to do an on site assessment. Allstate actually does the same around here, and they have a few auto body shops you can have your car towed to for an estimate that they just pay for.

    With Geico when my new car was hit right after I bought it I just took it to the dealer for the estimate and the dealer handled everything with my insurance.

    Crappy situation, that sadly won’t be any better with any other provider given her situation, IMO.

  2. Kornkob says:

    *shrug* ‘Strike One’ seems to be her own problem. Lesse– you didn’t pay for insurance to cover your rental car and now that you need it, you’re pissed off because they didn’t try to upsell you that feature.

    And to beef that he never ‘went over’ your coverage every year for the past 22 years…. sure seems to me that if you wanted that kind of attention you’ve not been demanding it for about 21 years.

    ‘Strike 2′ — did anyone ask you to ‘sit around’ waiting for a tow truck? They don’t need you to be present to tow your car. Nor do they need the keys.

    Strike 3– okay– the guy didn’t call you when the car was towed.


    The biggest ‘strike’ isn’t evne addressed. Your agent should be helping you through the process. He’s been making money off you for 22 years. The least he can do for that money is spend a little time with you explaining the process, outlining why things are happening and how long they shoudl take and generally making you more comforatble with the process.

    Call your agent. Express your disconent to the guy who is directly affected by your dissatisfaction. The adjustors are not customer service workers– they are loss prevention specialists. Your agent is your primary customer service interface and is directly compensated by your continued patronage. Use HIM.

  3. Joe B. Low says:

    Be glad you aren’t a homeowner along the Gulf Coast. I was recently informed by Allstate that my homeowners policy would not be renewed because “Allstate is revamping their risk profile.” Translation, “even though you have never made a claim and your house has stood in place for over 85 years, we don’t want to take the 1 in a million chance that your $1000 per year policy might have to pay out.” I was offered the opportunity to have Allstate write my policy through their local partner (for a $900 increase in premium and a 5% deductible), but I declined.

    In today’s age, it is critical to maintain a “buyer beware” mentality with insurance. Just because the policy has a small yearly premium, it might not be the best coverage. Things like higher deductibles and interesting definitions of “flooding” have been very costly to many home and car owners. Also, the individual agents have very little leeway to help long time customers in sticky situations.

    My advice is to read your policies carefully and shop the competition every year.

  4. HDC says:

    For sure every company has their thorns. I used to have Mercury through a broker and both were miserable to deal with. I now have 21st and have been absolutely happy with their service though I have yet to file a claim after seven years with them.

    A word to the wise. When ever you have an incident that disables your car and leaves you carless, DO NOT expect your company to cater to you. Be proactive. In this case Nancy ought to have gone ahead and gotten the car towed immediately when there was no response at the time of the accident. And rent a car immediately but don’t get anything outrageous so that it will be that less difficult to try and get compensation for it from your insurance company. Once you’ve got yourself functionally mobile again, then ride your agent to get the claim moving. Yeah in a perfect world your company ought to be there for you but as Nancy found out, this ain’t a perfect world.

    If Nancy had done this she wouldn’t have had the same degree of inconvenience. But for sure she needs to follow up and write a big nasty complaint letter to both her agent’s office and Allstate as well. And don’t fall sucker to the savings promises by your homeowner’s insurance company if you bundle your coverage. Shop around first. A pure auto insurance company may offer more both in cost and service than a big complex carrier may.

  5. Hey, since you live in Oak Park you could head on up to Northbrook and storm the Allstate offices to complain! Take pictures!

    I’ve always had very good experiences with State Farm, but I’ve always known my agents and been able to count on them to kick ass and take names when claims is being a pain.

  6. North of 49 says:

    L.A.W.Y.E.R.

    that’s the only way to get through to those jerks.

  7. andyj76 says:

    In the UK, I have been involved in a few non-fault accidents. In all of them, the time taken to fully resolve the situation has taken a number of YEARS. In one case, I even had a signed statement from the other driver admitting liability.
    Last year, I was involved in a non-fault accident in Australia. I phoned the insurance company and they arranged for the car to be taken away the same day, and had a cheque posted to me within a week. All I had to do was make one phone call. No chasing, no fuss.

    At least someone has it right.

  8. TPSreports says:

    What sort of maroon doesn’t have rental car insurance in case of an accident? What does it cost, maybe $2 or $3 a month at the most?

    Oh, I see she’s in suburban Chicago, where insurance rates can be about the same as car payments.

  9. Hoss says:

    I 2nd Korncorn’s thoughts — I can’t believe I read this story all the way through expecting a girl bites dawg twist… Nutin just another day in insuranceville. Hire a good agent and expect them to do the dirty work.

  10. greedyredhead says:

    I also had a bad experience with Allstate when they were stingy with a settlement for my car, which one of their customers totaled by ramming into it. Of course, she was just doing her job.

    What I learned from that experience is that you have to move the claims process along yourself, no one is going to hold your hand. Also, if you don’t have rental coverage, you can find out if your insurance company works with a particular rental chain — they may be able to offer you a special rate. I have done that twice and while it’s not as nice as “free,” the discount is decent.

  11. timmus says:

    This kind of crap is why we’re dumping our regular mega-insurance and going with USAA this spring… glad I served in the military. What bugs me is that the poor customer service, and in some cases customers having to get a lawyer to get anything done, is almost undoubtedly built into their business model.

  12. acambras says:

    What sort of maroon doesn’t have rental car insurance in case of an accident? What does it cost, maybe $2 or $3 a month at the most?

    Dude, if you’re going to call somebody a moron, at least spell it right.

  13. Pelagius says:

    “Use your agent” – Good point, but I’ve never had one. Always shopped for insurance on the internet and finalized the transaction with a call to the 1800 number. Who’s your agent then?

    Just curious.

  14. Sudonum says:

    As an Allstate cutomer my experience with them has been the exact opposite. I lost my house and it’s contents in Katrina. I had homwownwers and flood through Allstate. About a week after the storm I received a call from my agent letting me know where he had evacuated to and giving me a number for a satillite phone where he could be reached. It took over a month to get an adjuster to the house, but that was pretty much SOP due to the road conditions and the lack of adjusters. My agent told me to push the adjuster hard for what I wanted to try and make me “whole” stating that “the adjusters are independent contractors they basically work for you”. I made my case to my adjuster and he agreed with me. I got a full check for flood damage and contents in about another month. During this time my agent continued to call me to make sure there wasn’t anything else Allstate could do for me. As a result I have moved my auto policy to Allstate (from Geico and saved a few bucks too) and will probably be a customer for life. Unless they do something to really screw it up.

  15. spanky says:

    While I’m sure that it is a good idea to ride your insurance company’s ass when you have a claim, I’m a little skeeved by the notion that the consumer should take any blame for failing to sufficiently harangue her insurance company into doing their job.

    It sounds to me as though AllState is acting in bad faith. That’s not OK. At all. Point 1 isn’t a huge deal, but a competent insurance agent should review your coverage with you regularly. It’s their job. That alone probably isn’t cause to damn them entirely, but it’s not professional.

    But their failures to promptly investigate and keep her informed are inexcusable. That is their job. That’s what she’s been paying premiums for all these years, and couldn’t be bothered to do it. That’s bad faith, period, and that should be a torch-and-pitchfork offense.

    I hate that we’ve come to expect and even ACCEPT that insurance companies act in bad faith.

  16. Kornkob says:

    In that case, you are. That’s part of the risk you absorb when you buy “wholesale” so to speak. Instead of having an agent who can help you with the process, you’re stuck trying work with the insurance company on your own.

  17. Antediluvian says:

    I learned a little while ago that it’s very important to have a decent relationship w/ your insurance agent.

    Ask them BEFORE AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS what you should do if you get into one. Ask how to handle various what-if situations:
    – after hours
    – car not drivable
    – personal injury
    – hit-and-run
    – single-car accident, etc.
    Who should you call and when? How do you arrange for a rental car? Who covers it? This is part of being a responsible car-owner. And it took me many many years of car-owernship before I realized it, so I understand that very few consumers will have done these steps.

    I am not in the insurance business, but I attended a business class and one was brought in as a guest lecturer. He clearly demonstrated how important it is to know your agent, not just the agency. Smaller offices can be very useful this way — you’re a person, not a policy. People only use insurance during times of crisis or stress. A good agent understands that and will help you.

    Something else: if your was seriously damaged, you probably should not have driven it home. If it wouldn’t pass inspection (were headlights, turn signals, or taillights knocked out?), the cops should have arranged to have it towed and not allowed you to drive it home. What if you’d gotten stopped for a safety violation, or worse, been the cause of an accident due to faulty equipment, or gotten injured later yourself?

    If the windows are busted out, it should be towed to a secure building and stored inside. The towing company is responsible for the security of your car once they take control of it.

    The problem is, these are not things most people think of when they just had an accident. When I personally learned of most of these, I was “fortunate” that my car was hit while parked, I knew the responding police officer, and the at-fault party took responsibility. I wasn’t in the car and driving, which meant a lot less stress in a hugely stressful situationl.

  18. Vinny says:

    1. Sudonum: Homeowners insurance is not car insurance, and often they’re handled by different companies within the same company.

    All-State does have you in good hands. The problem is, those hands are giving you the finger.

  19. LawyerontheDL says:

    You may want to look into bad faith insurance law in the State of Illinois. While your situation does not appear to rise to that level yet, it may and just using that buzz phrase to the claims representative may help. But HESTITATE ALOT BEFORE YOU HIRE A LAWYER (and I am one, so it’s not some prejudice). What most people don’t realize about property claims is that any lawyer taking the case on a contingecy is taking a percentage of the settlement. I have seen people who get their car totalled and have to buy a new car worth 75% of its value beacuse the lawyer took his fee out of it. Finally, for those who “don’t need rental coverage because they never get in accidents.” Here’s some news for you – you haven’t gotten into an accident — YET. Unless you don’t drive a car, don’t shortchange yourself on any car insurance with the mistaken belief that you won’t get in an accident. That is not only foolish, it can be a very expensive mistake.

  20. magdelane says:

    The problems that you are encountering are symptomatic of the way that insurance companies are changing their internal structure. It used to be that the Agent handled everything. Not so any more. Agents are merely salespeople, and they are being treated that way regardless of how long they have worked for the company and how many years they actually were ‘full service’. Take a look at job descriptions for agents, and I challenge you to find a description that involves being essentially a project manager for a claim. The industry does not work that way anymore. Adjustors and claims handle all details beyond signing you up for insurance… the agent can’t even give you your pricing and terms without consulting corporate. They have, alas, become glorified salespeople, stripped of any power to help you as they once did.

    So stop paying for that personalized service; you aren’t receiving it.

    Go with a broker for independent insurance or do what I did and purchase it online. Unless you *need* your agent to do all of the legwork for you and are willing to pay through the nose for customized service through ING or somesuch, you will be dealing with claims and adjustors. Online insurers are cheaper because they aren’t paying commissions to salespeople. you know that 30% markup? Gone. And handling a claim will be no different than going through Allstate or Safeco: You’ll be on the phone to the main office and the regional satellite office trying to get some feedback… or you could just check the progress of your claim on their website, and fill out your forms, and it will automatically RECORD each of your actions and theirs in resolving a claim! Imagine that…
    Both sides being able to see the progress of the claim at the same time!
    (FWIW, I am now insured through esuarnce.com, and love the peace of mind that I can monitor claims, billing and options on my policy whenever I please. And I’m also happy that it is run by an established insurance company who saw the benefit in creating a new service, where you aren’t paying those ridiculously high commissions to an unresponsive ‘agent’.)

  21. acambras says:

    If the windows are busted out, it should be towed to a secure building and stored inside. The towing company is responsible for the security of your car once they take control of it.

    I was once advised by a police officer to tell the tow company to tow the car to their lot, not to my home (I was young and unsure of what to do). He said that since the tow company is charging daily storage fees for the wrecked car, that’s an incentive for the insurance company to get moving on the claim — get it off the tow company’s property and into the body shop (or total it, if that’s the case).

  22. NoThru22 says:

    I’m using a small family owned business out of Essex, MD. They are backed by Farmer’s Insurance and not only did they have the best rates, but they know me by name and are eager to please. I am always wary of using any of the big names because this is the kind of service they usually give.

  23. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I’ve got 21st Century Insurance and they have customer service issues too. Their adjusters are a lazy bunch. They’re in the office from 9am to 4pm on weekdays. I’m not even sure if they show up to work on Fridays. They never answer their phone. They never return your messages. You have to call them at random times and hope you catch them.

    I’ve told my adjustor (several times) to call me directly on my cell phone, yet he always called my home phone and just leaves a message, telling me to call him back. And when I call him back, I get his voicemail. I tell him (again) to call my cell phone, but the next day he calls my house and leaves another message.

    During off hours, they forward their claims hotline to a call center in the Phillipines. The reps at the call center don’t give you any advice or tell you anything. They just read questions off their computer screen and enter your claim into the system. Once they take your claim, they tell you an adjustor will contact you within 24 hours. Um.. ok.

  24. dculberson says:

    Regarding the rental car coverage: if it costs $2 – $3/month, and she hasn’t made a claim in 22 years, then she’s looking at having saved $528 to $792 over those years. It’s doubtful that her rental car will end up costing that much. So she’s come out ahead by just paying out of pocket.

  25. Paul D says:

    Yay, USAA!

  26. Dude, if you’re going to call somebody a moron, at least spell it right.

    Didn’t Bugs Bunny call people maroon (purposely mispronouncing moron) in the Looney Tunes cartoons?

    It used to be that the Agent handled everything. Not so any more. Agents are merely salespeople…

    So much for 1NTC (One Neck To Choke).

  27. phrygian says:

    With Allstate (and probably other insurance companies) a lot of the “good” or “bad” depends on your agent. I’ve been with Allstate for 16 years and had three agents. The first one was awesome — literally a friend of the family — but he retired. The agent who bought out his contracts was horrible — 24-hour answering machine and never a returned call. I called corporate Allstate and threatened to cancel and the put me in touch with my current agent, who has always gone out of his way to help us — not just in filing claims, but with adjusting our policies when needed.

    I just don’t think any player in the insurance industry cares about customers any more. They know you legally have to have car insurance and it gives them incentive to treat people like a commodity.

  28. LTS! says:

    Okay, where to start.

    First, why would you buy a product without knowing how it would be used? (ie. dealing with a claims adjuster)

    Second, why would you buy a product without knowing what you were getting? (ie. rental)

    Third, you left the keys IN the car and you are wondering where it is. Wow. I don’t know what to say about that except… you created this situation all on your own.

    People are trying to pass blame to Allstate but I don’t see how other than they were slow. It’s not uncommon for the agent to not be involved with the claims process, it’s not his job. He won’t know immediately that you had an accident. You’ll find this to be true at most insurance companies.

    The rest of her hassle stems from her inability to adequately insure herself against loss. She should have had the car towed to a garage, not driven home. By driving it there she created a parking space issue for herself. So, it’s Allstate’s fault if they are backed up? It’s CHICAGO! If she had had it towed she could have rented a car, would have known where her car is right now and the process would be underway.

    I’ve had NO PROBLEMS with Allstate. They even went after GM for me when GM was threatening me with a lawsuit for a deer my wife hit while driving a loaner (key word: loaner). I’ve had them since I started driving 17 years ago, I have them on everything I own and for every claim I’ve had to make it’s been zero hassle.

    Oh.. and my rates haven’t gone up either. Of course there’s only been two claims in 17 years.

    The bottom line, instead of taking the time to understand what you had been paying on for 22 years and being in a grouchy mood you caused yourself headaches. There are a few minor points in your letter, but nothing so egregious as you claim.

  29. Elara says:

    Has this lady tried calling Allstate directly? Maybe some escalation is called for here?

    Other than that, I have no useful comments, aside from another recommendation for USAA if you have any military connections. They are truly amazing for an insurance company. And they’re really affordable. I’ve got Homeowners, Personal Property, and Auto with them, and they’ve never been anything less than amazing with the feew incidents I’ve had to report.

  30. RulesLawyer says:

    With the risk of sounding redundant, an insurance company agent works as an agent for the insurance company, not as an agent for the insured. It’s in their best intrest to keep their company happy, and its in the company’s best interest to pay out as little as possible.

    Never forget this fact. Company’s have shareholders. Shareholders don’t like spending money.

    As someone who had a large ($300K+) homeowners claim against Farmers, this became quickly obvious to me, even though the claim drug out for more than two years.

    Dude, if you’re going to call somebody a moron, at least spell it right.

    Dude, if you’re going to presume a misspelling, at least watch a few cartoons first. What a maroon (see last item, and Maroon Cartoons).

  31. dale3h says:

    I’ve never had a SINGLE problem with Liberty Mutual, but I’ve only been a customer for 3 years. They are prompt, curteous, as well as help you out instead of talking you down.

    Just my 2¢.

  32. acambras says:

    LOL — OK, I stand corrected — I am a maroon.

    I guess I should be spending less time reading the Consumerist and more time watching cartoons. ;-)

  33. Sudonum says:

    Vinny, Yes I know that a homeowners claim during a major disaster doesn’t equate to a traffic accident/automotive claim. My point was that if Allstate can get over $300k into my hands in what I perceive to be a relativly short period of time given the circumstances, then I will trust them to provide me with that same service on an automobile claim, regardless of which division/company is handling it. Like I said I’ll stick with them until they show otherwise. Including my current agent.

  34. dwarf74 says:

    Disclaimer: I work for an insurance company, but not for Allstate. I’m not an agent, but was licensed for several years until my position changed and I no longer needed it.

    RulesLawyer – with a mutual insurance company, the insureds are the shareholders.

    I’m insured with the Farm. I haven’t switched simply because they’ve been good to me for many years.

    Both State Farm and my employer have agents, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way. If you have a good agent, they really do work for you. While they can’t directly help with claims sometimes, they actually do have a vested interest in your happiness and in your business. If you’re not happy, a good agent will find out why and work as your advocate in the company.

    If you don’t have an agent, it’s you vs. a CSR. Sure, the CSR has more training than most, but I know from experience that all it takes to get an insurance license is a 3-day course, a test, and money. (Then you can get licensed in almost any other state in the nation by just paying a fee, without taking their state-specific tests.) I’d rather deal with a professional agent (who has a vested interest in my business) than with a CSR any day.

    Back to the original post…

    “Strike” 1 … The poster has a point. Her agent should be sitting down with her once a year or so to review her coverages. If he hasn’t been at least making the offer, this is poor service. That doesn’t make it his fault that she doesn’t have rental coverage, but if she’s paying for an agent, she should expect agent service.

    As for the claim handling – I dunno, it sounds like Allstate dropped the ball on this one, too. It’s unreasonable to expect your agent to be at his office 24/7, but the people you call for your claim should at least have enough knowledge to get the process started and tell you what to do. (e.g. help set up a tow, let you know what steps you need to take, etc.)

    A lot of other things in here, she brought on herself – for instance, there was no reason for her to stay home waiting for her agent to call, and so on. That’s not on Allstate’s shoulders. I also understand it sucks to have to pay for a rental car, but if you haven’t paid for the coverage, I don’t see why you’d expect one. It wouldn’t be fair to the other policyholders – who would, in a very real and specific sense be paying for it.

    Best of luck. I’d recommend calling the State Board of Insurance if the situation doesn’t get resolved. I can post their number if need be.

  35. Kornkob says:

    I’ve never had a SINGLE problem with Liberty Mutual, but I’ve only been a customer for 3 years. They are prompt, curteous, as well as help you out instead of talking you down.

    Yes, but have you had any significant claims? Being a customer, even a long term customer, of an insurer that never has to deliver approaches being valuless as an assessment. Of course an insurance company is going to be good at collecting money. The question is: do they service their members well when that insurance is needed?

    If in 3 years you’ve had a dozen claims of various sizes then you’re in a position to really talk about liberty’s behavior. If you’ve never had anything significant to claim then all your assessment says is “for the past 3 years they managed to collect my checks and be nice to me”.


    Frankly, same goes for people who have had claims processed by their insurer but those claims were some years back. The fact is companies change over time. It’s possible that the best insurer might be less than responsive some time later. The reverse is also true: a company that screwed people years back might well be a great company to work with now.

    Current, significant claim response is they way to assess how ‘good’ an insurance company is.

  36. MeOhMy says:

    In many (if not all) states, insurance is a regulated industry. When I was in an accident some years ago, the other driver and his insurance were really dragging their feet. A fairly simple call to the state insurance regulator magically fixed the problem in a matter of hours.

  37. LRM216 says:

    While all insurance companies can be nightmares, I must say in defense of Progressive that they handled my claim politely, quickly and satisfactorily – from start to finish. They were absolutely great. My brand new auto was hit in a Walmart parking lot by a truck that continued to speed away as I attempted to chase it on foot (alas, to no avail). Progressive (Atlanta, GA) got to work on it immediately, put it under my uninsured coverage since it was not a moving violation and took care of me without a hitch. Other than I got stuck with the deductible, they were great.

  38. BareFeet says:

    Isn’t it weird how we’re pretty much used to getting routinely screwed by companies to whom we pay huge amounts of money? Like, I keep hearing about banks and insurance companies and whatever just bending people over the table as a matter of everyday business practice? I mean, what the hell? Y’all: we pay insurance companies hundreds — thousands, sometimes — of dollars every month so that they can shortchange us, overcharge us, give us the runaround, and fail to provide anything resembling adequate, compassionate service at precisely the time when we need it the most. Maybe you got lucky and landed an insurance agent who’s not a total douche, but ask around. I bet a woefully high proportion of your friends have had some major hassles with insurance companies. It sucks.

  39. vanilla-fro says:

    Insurance is state regulated with the federal government giving them “suggestions” so to speak.

    Anyway, it’s not your carrier’s fault that you don’t have the right coverage. You signed for the policy and should have read it. I know, I know, it’s too hard to understand. that’s why you pay for an agent, not that they all know what’s going on either, but its a start. You don’t just sign stuff without reading do you?

    I’ve been an adjuster for a while and have dealt with plenty of agents that didn’t know what coverage their client had, but most do. always have them explain your coverage and ask lots of questions.

    Anyway, Nancy should have gotten off her butt the first day with out a car and gotten a rental and gone to work. no sense missing work because the customer service (and apparently claims handling) sucks at your insurance company.

    I feel for her, honestly I do. I know making a claim is confusing, stressfull, and just sucks. She does need to call her states insurance department, her agent, her adjuster, and the main office for allstate. The calls to allstate, the aduster, and the agent should be often and the claims manager or supervisor should be spoken to as well. mention bad faith and the insurance department.

  40. iamjames says:

    As an insurance agent I can tell you that Allstate agents are independent agents, meaning each of them are on their own to do their own thing. If they decide not to take care of their customers they can do that. Sorry you got a bad agent, but that’s not the entire company’s fault. If you called another Allstate agent you’d probably get much better results.

  41. hurmpees says:

    I have Farm Bureau for my auto and homeowners down here in North Carolina and they are the best. Not only do I get great rates but when my pickup truck had a cracked windshield it was taken care of immediatley with only a phone call. I also had the side window busted and my stereo stolen and they cut me a check for the radio for $250 (I only spent $130 originally on the radio) and fixed my window ASAP. I can also call my agent during office hours and almost always get him on the phone or at least a prompt call back.I guess not all are bad to deal with. Kudos to them!!!

  42. kenposan says:

    Boy that sucks, but if you aren’t aware of what’s in your policy that is on you. My van took hail damage (as did my house). I was without it for three weeks with no back up because we declined rental coverage. Sucked, but that was on us.

    As an aside, my insurance company is American Family. I have never had a problem with them in the eight years I have used them, and we have filed multiple claims on both our house and our vehicles.

    Our agent even calls us on our birthdays, and this is a man we have met only a few times.

    When we had our hail damage, we had adjusters on site within days (our whole city got slammed). With the exception of having to remind the car adjuster to release the check to us (she thought she had sent it but hadn’t), we had no problems.

  43. spanky says:

    Isn’t it weird how we’re pretty much used to getting routinely screwed by companies to whom we pay huge amounts of money? Like, I keep hearing about banks and insurance companies and whatever just bending people over the table as a matter of everyday business practice? I mean, what the hell?

    Thank you. This can’t be said enough. This woman’s insurance company did NOT do their job. They are acting in bad faith. Why are people on a consumer-oriented forum blaming the victim for not being ‘proactive’ enough in forcing a company to do what they are paid for? While it may be prudent, it is not her job, and she is in no way culpable for her insurance company’s failure to do their job.

    Yes, most other insurance companies do it, too, and you know why? Because American consumers just bend over and take it.

  44. Antediluvian says:

    acambras says:
    I was once advised by a police officer to tell the tow company to tow the car to their lot, not to my home (I was young and unsure of what to do). He said that since the tow company is charging daily storage fees for the wrecked car, that’s an incentive for the insurance company to get moving on the claim — get it off the tow company’s property and into the body shop (or total it, if that’s the case).

    This is my understanding too, and in my case, I believe it worked to my favor. I suppose it also helps to know your local bodyshop guy, but that’s not as likely as knowing your agent.

    Again, I say: know your agent! Know your policy! Know the steps to take in case of an incident likely to lead to a claim!

    Good idea for homeowner’s insurance too.

  45. acambras says:

    Spanky, I think most of the commenters are trying to point out two very important lessons:

    1) Know what coverage you need. It’s important to review your coverage every time you renew, or you may end up being underinsured. Also, you may be counting on coverage you thought you had but didn’t (like the rental car coverage – if you decline it, know that you won’t be covered for it). A good agent should help you review your coverage and make sure you’re properly insured. If you’re having trouble getting an agent to help you with that, find a new agent.

    2) Be proactive. It would helped this woman if she’d been proactive in following lesson #1 (some agents offer to review coverage with you, but some just wait for you to ask). It also would have made sense if she’d rented the car and gone to work instead of waiting around at home for them to call her back (unless she was injured and couldn’t work).

    Maybe some of the commenters came off a bit hypercritical, but they point out important things for all of us to think about. I bet a lot of readers will review their coverage (if they haven’t already done so recently), and a lot of people will plan (to the extent that one can) what to do if they find themselves in the position of filing a claim.

  46. Keter says:

    Barefeet wrote:

    …we pay insurance companies hundreds — thousands, sometimes — of dollars every month so that they can shortchange us, overcharge us, give us the runaround…

    The reason these companies charge so much and care so little is that they have a legally mandated customer base. You must buy insurance to drive a car or buy a home on a mortgage. You don’t have a choice. I figure I’ve spent enough on never-needed insurance in my lifetime that I could have a nice retirement account by now. Being “covered” now is not worth being “homeless” when I’m too old to keep working.

    Want change? Get the government out of it! The insurance industry has one of the largest and most powerful lobbying presences on both state and national levels, and consequently has far too much influence. Make requiring insurance illegal; allow people the choice of self-insuring (if they can prove they have the means) or joining private risk pools (these need to be made legal in all areas!) instead. The adantage to these approaches is that the pooled money can be invested and can actually MAKE money for the participants. This is one heck of an incentive to not file frivolous claims!

  47. Chongo says:

    I hate to point this out but if the writer is really in Oak Park then it is not 50 miles away… try 15-25 at the most.

  48. critical_matt says:

    I’m an adjuster and have worked at several of the large carriers. Few things here just from browsing the article and the comments:

    1. Know your coverage. When I worked for Allstate, most agents made insureds initial the spot that says they do NOT want rental coverage because as soon as they have a loss, and no rental, they freak out.

    2. Unless something has recently change, Allstate agents are all captive agents.

    3. Flood – don’t get me started. Insurance companies are not allowed to SELL flood insurance. It is a program mandated and administered by the federal government. If you have a flood and a flood policy, it’s separate from your homeowners insurance. Your homeowners adjuster will probably get stuck writing the estimate however.

    4. Flood con’t: All companies use the same ISO policy wording for the definition of flood. Pull your policy out and take a look. It’s not some ethereal definition that changes during hurricanes. Surface water, whether driven by wind or not, is flood – so, storm surge, river overflow, gulf of mexico moving 1/2 mile = flood.

    p.s. Flood is easy for adjusters to figure out. The roof tells all…

  49. healthdog says:

    Another recommendation for USAA. I have used them for 13 years, with two significant claims. When my car was stolen, I had a check within two weeks for above blue book value, no hassle.

    When a drunk totaled my car two years later, they told me to go ahead and have the police tow the car because USAA could not get someone there for 90 minutes. They patiently walked me through my uninsured motorist coverage (’cause why would a habitual drunk have insurance) and I received blue book value and a nice settlement.

    They are always super polite and helpful on the phone, and the only company I truly .

  50. Pilam69 says:

    I scrolled through the replies here so I apologize if this is duplication but a couple of important things here………

    1) do you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage? If so, then you should have rental car coverage as part of that.

    2) you can always have the car towed by another towing company to a location. Yes, it is out of pocket but if you really, REALLY need to get it out of there……….

    3) they cannot tell you where to take your car, you can take it or have it towed to any shop or location that you want (unless it causes additional storage fees to accrue that you would be unwilling to pay and that they would not have to pay)

    But, since you are in the process of settling your total loss I guess all these are moot points. Hopefully something will be learned by someone reading this if they have bad luck………

    Sorry for your troubles.

  51. SimonGodOfHairdos says:

    In January of 2001 I was on the jury of a civil lawsuit in Bridgeport, CT. One elderly man had rear-ended another elderly man at a red light. His reasoning as to why he was not at fault? He thought the other guy was going to turn right. No, I am not kidding, that was his entire defense.

    During the case, we learned two odd tidbits: that this accident had happened four years ago, and that the defendant’s insurance company had rejected paying a $6,000 settlement that the plaintiff’s insurance company had asked for during a binding arbitration hearing (designed as a kind of legally-binding middle ground in order to avoid the costs associated with a full-on lawsuit).

    Anyway, after hearing evidence, we the jury decided that the rear-ender was liable, OF COURSE, and we awarded the plaintiff compensation for the dollar amount of damage done to his car, his deductible, the amount he had spent on doctor’s visits and physical therapy, legal fees, and then threw in a couple thousand extra for all the annoyance he had suffered at the hands of the “I thought he was turning right!” idiot. All in all, he ended up getting about $12,000.

    When the case was dismissed, the judge asked us to wait for him in the jury room because he wanted to speak to us. He came in and told us he wanted to give us some details that he was not allowed to reveal during the case because they would have been prejudicial. He said that the rear-ender’s insurance company was Allstate, and that they were making it a policy to automatically reject as many claims as possible, even ones that were CLEARLY the fault of their policyholder, and were taking almost EVERY SINGLE CLAIM to court, rejecting all binding arbitration offers along the way (at least in CT). The judge said that he had never seen anything like it in his entire career, and in the past year, Allstate had single-handedly caused a major backlog in the Connecticut civil court system. He thanked us for finding the defendant liable, and for making Allstate pay more than what they rejected during arbitration, and he said he hoped that it would continue happening in order to teach them a lesson. He thought that what Allstate was doing should be illegal, and he couldn’t believe that Allstate actually thought that this tactic would save them money.

    I was not an Allstate customer then, and in the six years since I was on that jury I have never even considered them as an option, even when their quote was the least expensive. I tell this story to everyone I know who is shopping around for insurance, and I bet my fellow jurors do too! I would also wager that the poor 80-year-old man who had to go through four years of insurance and legal hell just for the “crime” of being stopped in his car at a red light has a few choice words about Allstate as well.

  52. empty01 says:

    No one points out the most blatantly obvious facet of this situation. Allstate is trying to build a PR campaign to fight any negative publicity from the fact that they treat their customers like dirt. Microsoft did it after they lost their monopoly suit while they were still actively participating in illegal business practices. Kaiser permanente does it all the time. Any time you see a commercial ask yourself if they are marketing a product or trying to market their philosophy. If they are marketing a philosophy it means they are chasing a crowd that bears that philosophy. You can’t make false advertisements about a philosophy. Otherwise alot of politicians would have been sued by now.

  53. capturedshadow says:

    All Snake was the one company a lawyer friend said was hard for her to deal with in personal injury suit cases.

  54. Kornkob says:

    3) they cannot tell you where to take your car, you can take it or have it towed to any shop or location that you want (unless it causes additional storage fees to accrue that you would be unwilling to pay and that they would not have to pay)

    correction. They can’t tell you where to get your car fixed. I believe they can, however, require that the car/moveable asset be presented at a specific location to have its damage assessed and, if the vehicle is not drivable, be allowed to tow it to that assessment location, at their own expense.

  55. Bryan Price says:

    After dealing with State Farm at the age of 19 for an accident that wasn’t my fault, I’ve called auto insurance a scam from the the get-go. I should have just sent everything through my insurance, it would have been a heck of a lot better for me. I was stupid back then for not doing that.

    And if I ever have to deal with State Farm again, I pity the adjuster.

  56. dayjayvw says:

    The moral of this story is that the OP is an inexperienced insured driver. The ran into roadblocks from not having experience with dealing with them.

    Insurance claims, health, car, home, etc are cumbersome to deal with you have to be persistent and never assume.

  57. riggs says:

    Magdelane:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you. As an agent for a smaller company, statements like “the agent can’t even give you your pricing and terms without consulting corporate. They have, alas, become glorified salespeople, stripped of any power to help you as they once did” don’t ring true. I have an intimate relationship with my claims adjustors (first-name basis). When you’re dealing with the Allstates, Nationwides, etc., you’re not going to necessarily get the best service. However, when you work with a smaller company, you can get a fair rate and still have a relationship that counts. I hope that esurance has treated you well so far, but I really hope that they come through if you ever have a claim. As far as those “ridiculously high commisions?” Tell me where those are so I can find them. Believe it or not, insurance isn’t the best-paying gig in the world. IMHO, you get what you pay for. Spend a little more, establish a relationship, get excellent service. Go online and look for the cheapest thing out there, get a roll of the dice when push comes to shove.

  58. cryrevolution says:

    oy vey….
    Well I guess I can add my two cents. I work in Claims Service for a major insurance company. No, not the gecko….think older…less hipper. Anyway, I am the person that you speak to initially…yes, the little entry level-er that gets to ask all the questions and get all the information. Luckily I’ve been in my position long enough to know a few things about a few things. FIRST At the initial claim report, you can have your vehicle a)towed to your home (which does not incur storage fees, mind you, which with my company, sadly we do not reimburse) b) have it towed to a tow yard or c) towed to a body shop. Now, upon having it towed to any one of these locations, the vehicle can be assessed by an adjuster ANYWHERE. For the first initial appraisal the adjuster can go to your house, a tow yard, any body shop, your uncles house, whatever. Upon appraising the vehicle they will deem it either fixable or a total loss. NOW here’s the thing: when you initially report the claim, atleast with my company, my little computer screen tells me whether it might be fixable or if it could in fact be a total loss. In order for us to pick the vehicle up from wherever it is being stored, WE MUST ASK YOUR PERMISSION, SINCE IN FACT, THE VEHICLE BELONGS TO YOU. And yes, unforch, it takes (for us) 72 business hours to do so. But, the towing is at our expense and you will not be incurring any kinds of fees with your vehicle at our lot. But, if you do not want to go through the 72 hour deal, you can REFUSE PICKUP. And have the possible total loss inspected anywhere.

    Thats what my company does. Initially…after its been deemed a total loss, thats a different story entirely.

    And thats my two cents.

  59. fishinforlife says:

    I have to agree that rental insurance would have been the key here. In NC they offer you unisured motorist insurance for about 1 to 2 dollars also and you would not believe how many people turn it down, thinking that you cant drive a car in the state without insurance….so why do I need this? Just buy the &*^%*&%$ coverage so you wont need to complain when crap happens or that loser decides he will steal a license plate and put it on that rust bucket sitting in the yard. Then drive down to the local store for a pack of smokes and a fifth and next thing you know BAMM he’s hit you in the side while your dropping off the kids at day care.

    Some things just make sense!!

  60. gella1102 says:

    There are a few things I just don’t get here. First of all the rental coverage, bottom line you after 22 YEARS you should look at your policy at EVERY RENEWAL and CALL YOUR AGENT if you notice something is lacking or have any questions. Believe me ANY agent would rather deal with your stupid question than deal with an unhappy customer at the time of the claim. Secondly when the claims department was giving you a hard time you need to once again CALL your agent, they can not read minds, they do not know if you are having a problem unless you tell them. That’s what an agent is for! They are suppost to be your advocate, your go between.

    As for the person who asked who your agent is when your buy over the internet or phone… it’s a CSR, making about $8-12/hr,doesn’t care if you renew your policy, who’s trained for 40hrs and then put to work. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be with someone who has been doing this for a while and has a vested interest in me. I don’t renew my policy, my agent doesn’t get paid, I don’t renew my internet policy the CSR still gets paid. Simple as that.