Saturday, May 26, 2012

Car Insurance

Over a decade ago, I was involved in a fender-bender with a ginormous...em, jerk-o, who rolled into a local pharmacy parking lot at around 35mph (he bounced his mom-in-law's Park Ave. crazily when he rolled in, everyone could hear it), and promptly rear-ended me while I was trying to make a lane-change (had people I didn't like in my car, but was helping 'somebody' pick up their meds, and wouldn't you know, had pulled into a line of around 3 or 4 'full-maintenance' drivers ahead of me, who'd already taken around 10 mins. apiece to have their scrips filled)...

Turns out that this 'dude' in the Park Ave. was the worst kind of bad-driver to tangle with--he was:

  • driving without a license
  • on a suspended license
  • slightly under the influence
  • somebody else's car (his screaming, belligerent, filthy rich mo-in-law); and,
  • with absolutely no insurance (and she, with none on him)

Still, his [now SCREAMING] mom-in-law angrily demanded he get out and approach me for insurance info, on a (literally, now) DIME-SIZED DING in her plastic front bumper (again--literally), while clutching her neck as if she was planning to falsity a personal injury claim (like the classic 'whiplash' or something).

I couldn't have been more unfortunate, as this was just before we had camera smartphones, so I waited for 45 (can I say 'frikkin' here?) minutes while the BGPD showed up, briefly 'met' with ol' 'Monster-in-law' (she was HIGHLY connected locally, needless to say), then calmly separated us and began grilling ME or my patently dismissive, all-wrong, and just plain POOR driving habits (possibly a given, but I'd debate that strongly--and...well, not really, this time, anyway).

This 'fine officer' then gently handed me a citation for 'distracted driving', and gave MY personal and insurance over to the crazy old woman in the other car, who clearly had been waiting for an opportunity like this to subsidize her alcohol habit (and problem--she was raving like a lunatic). The old woman immediately stopped her acting and greedily clutched my insurance info, eyeing me triumphantly, like a tantrumic, spoiled, child.

Despite the several people who had lined up to give their eye-witness accounts of the event, the BGPD officer stubbornly ignored them, telling some to leave, and others merely 'disbanded'. She handled EVERYTHING on her own, without backup, or allowing objective, non-familiar, eye-witnesses to approach with their CORRECT versions of what they'd just seen.

The cop took NO PHOTOS of the 'car in question' (highly questionable, IMHO)...the son-in-law over-apologized (later everywhere he met me, like a real grub) publicly to me, relating his own story that he was brow-beaten, constantly humiliated, and had been FORCED into subjecture by old 'mom' over there (who kept vacillating between glaring openly at me, and copping a little-ol-lady act for the duped & naive, civic-and-politically-minded, local cop).

It was hard to feel sorry for this 'tool': he stood around 6'3"--and his crazy mom-in-law looked to be around 4"11, and well over 70 years old. She'd never even gotten out of her luxury car and looked at the 'damage' to it. (She looked a lot like the 'Where's the Beef?!' grandma, complete with blue hair).

'Hmm', I thought. 'This won't be good'.

Over the next few weeks, I waited for the hammer to fall (to hear from her insurance agent), but time went on, and...well, nothing happened.

Until I breathed a 'sigh of relief' about a month later when I got a call from my own, local (some might say, 'Good Ol' Boy' wanna-be), extremely-overpriced, good-for-nothing, agent (who still runs an Allstate office on the ByPass, so you'll know).

He had 'Monster-in-Law' in his office, using the police report as her sole evidence, trying to bilk me out of hundreds of $ for 'repairs' for her Park Ave., also insinuating she'd begun mentioning a personal injury lawsuit, but 'if I'd play nice, and settle out-of-court', she was big-hearted enough to drop everything if I'd pay her around $500 to repair that little 'dime-sized' ding.

My insurance agent was obviously working for the other team...who, really, should have never even been on the road, for a multitude of reasons (listed above, remember).

When I balked, reminding him 'who he worked for'...things got ugly.

That's when his threats worsened, promising me he would have to begin taking action against me himself, obliterating my already-high rates (over $117 by this time, due to his constant rate-changes over a five-year term with him by me--JUST FOR CAR INS.!)...

I asked him (for purposes here, we'll call him 'Bob') if she'd presented ANY kind of evidence backing up her claim (as in, photos) and he said she'd been to her DEALER for an official insurance repair estimate.

Then I asked him if she was there, at which point he made a flawed attempt to deny she was...but not a substantial enough attempt to bridle the old...uhm, 'patron' and 'friend', and I heard her begin railing on him like she had her own son-in-law.

I laughed (pretty edgily), and then asked him if she'd driven herself, and perchance if she'd driven her 'baby'--the Park Ave.

He mumbled and stumbled, so I went on to ask him if he'd gained weight lately (and if he'd merely peek out the window and look at the car for himself--as it was indeed parked right out front of his office window--within 15 feet of his prying eyes--that very moment).

Well, sometimes an old snake can get dangerous when he feels cornered--and flight wasn't an option for 'old Bob', so he lit into me like a cornered gator with an M-80 up his sphincter.

I hung up, having successfully called him out, but not before screaming at him something like "well go ahead then, y'old bruiser--[expletive deleted] me solid--I'LL PAY the old hag, but I'm terminating my policy as of now! I told him some other things which I don't think would fly on anything owned by Larry Flynt, and hung up. I never got the image of that stupid ding out of my head (and the local ding-bats who had greedily blown that thing so far out of proportion).

He did [the expletive deleted thing], and over the next few months, he did as 'promised', and raised my rates to nearly $200 a month until I paid off her 'balance' (which she likely spent on Orange Schnapps--every penny, from what I'd understood her to be).

About a year later, I notified old 'Bobby Boy' via snail-mail, very clearly-written, communicae, that I'd found a great company (a very BIG one, if not the biggest), and had moved on.

Suffice it to say, I found a better company to deal with, and 'paid on'.

I moved forward, BTW (hard not to, I admit)--I'm not bragging, but my current total for the 'common courtesy' coverage (other motorist--I'm safe by myself) PLUS renter's insurance is nearly down to $50.

So, I have some 'pointers', therefore, for local people in finding insurance (esp. for students):

  • Shop around (and by that, I do mean outside your city limits, or general area): you'd be surprised how much some local insurance 'providers' gouge locals, once they think they've cornered the local market.  We're not talking 'fixed rates' here.  This is something you don't hear a lot about, but it's commonly very true.
  • Shoot for 'low'...but not 'too low'. Look for that rural provider with rates below the...erm--'mini-metro' avg. we have here in BG. Local providers have become more like 'dealers', hiking rates, aiming for the WKU crowd--it's wrong, and can even be discouraging. But YOU WANT INSURANCE (it's like the 'Golden Rule', for driving issues) find that rate with a 'sweet spot' for you--NOT so low it's suspicious (like--they're operating a store front from a cheap hotel, and your agent's car looks like a real 'beater').
  • Avoid local 'GOBs' (good ol' boys)...we've made 'some' headway in decades of dealing with these old bullfrogs, but what is left of them is still a very gentrified network of insanely-greedy, over-protective, and outright extortive, ill-mannered, and seedy individuals. They're 'crotch-rotten', and when put on the spot, would literally kill, for their 'kill'. They brag about it a lot--it's their lifestyle, but to support it, they have to have the local 'chum' of anyone outside their circle, to munch on. Don't be that.
  • BUY INSURANCE--it's the right thing to do
  • Try to be a good driver (don't drive like a bunghole, be overly-considerate, get where you're going, and learn your driving area pretty well). BG, f'rinstance, seems to toggle madly between a cattle drive and a NASCAR event, with slugs hogging the fast lane for miles, making you late, and 'those darn kids' cramming their 'frontage' up your exhaust pipe so far they could charge you for an oil change. Don't be 'that' driver...and don't drive drunk, texting, reading, and minimize phone use--it's really safer, and you'll even end up with lower rates, if your insurance offers that.
I'll just say it outright--on the advice of a family friend, I went with 'State Farm' insurance out of Glasgow (I'll say that, too--Mike Bryant). I couldn't believe how friendly they were, out of the hustle-and-bustle, and they apparently had 'time' to go over my policies like top-rate accountants (they are!) and GET MY RATES LOWERED THREE TIMES DURING THE FIRST YEAR.

Seriously--I liked that so much, I began jokingly asking my agents there if they realized they were an insurance company. They even sent me a [cashable] $25 'Christmas' refund my first year. can get...erm...'messed over' here in BG, esp. But look...and look....and look. I was with at least 5 different companies (and 2 of them really did 'mess with me' enough to merit dropping them) over my 26-year driving history.

I'll readily admit my driving record isn't perfect...but my last 'infraction' was over two years ago--a 2 MPH 'Cali-roll' in an area I should have been more careful about driving in (residential). As many would say, I'm not the worst driver, either. I've just learned since how to look out for my budget in an often personally-hostile economy.

Buying insurance, to me, is everywhere as important an honor and privilege as the honor, privilege, and LIBERTY of actually driving...and every bit as American.

We're not all NASCAR material, but IMHO--isn't most driving for utility, convenience, and even leisure? Take that 'pro' stuff off-roading...maybe you'll end up on Youtube or Tosh.0 instead of America's Most Wanted or 'Dumbest'....