In which I deal with the insurance

Since I last updated, a lot has happened. I’ve gotten more work on my tattoo (more on that in a different post), and I’ve gotten results on the car accident I was in. Turns out the mini was totaled – 83% damage costing over $10,000.  Initially, they offered me a fair reimbursement. Enough to pay off the remaining lien and have a little something extra for a down payment on something else. I felt bad that my poor little mini was going to be scrapped, so I asked the owner at the auto shop if he could fix the car and resell it. He could, and he offered me $1500 for it. I just had to tell the insurance company I was “keeping” the car . When I told my adjuster that, she looked at the numbers and said that I would be getting even more money if I did it that way. A great deal more. Even she was surprised (which, looking back, should have been a red flag). I said do it, and my heart was elated.

After the money from the insurance, and then selling it to the shop, I was supposed to have about $7000 in my pocket. Sure, I could buy a decent used car and not have to worry about payments for a while, or, I could buy something shiny and new that I wouldn’t have to worry about at all. I’m the type to keep my cars for a very long time, so I opted for the new and went car shopping. I had done a lot of research in preparation for this scenario, and decided on a Mazda3. I “built” my own on the Mazda website (it was pretty basic – I don’t need a lot of that fancy <read: expensive> crap) and searched local inventory. There is one Mazda dealership in the area, and they had my car in stock! I sent an inquiry, and it turns out that not only was it in the color I liked, but it was the only manual transmission on the lot. (Manual transmission is my #1 requirement. Color is nice, but not a dealbreaker.) Apparently people today don’t really like to drive their cars, so stick shifts are not very popular. I had a day off, so I headed down to the lot.

I wandered the very large car lot for a while, knowing what I was looking for. As soon as I saw it – I knew. It was such a pretty car, and just the right size. I already knew all the specs, and I had driven one years ago, but I needed to seal the deal. No salespeople were in sight, so I took some pictures.
color lot

The first is a close up of the paint. It’s among the sparkliest things I’ve ever seen, so of course had to have it. The second is obviously a wider view, though somewhat obstructed by the other cars for sale.

I started walking towards the office, but they must have seen me taking pictures because there was a salesman on the way. I explained my situation – I wanted that car but was waiting on the insurance check for my down payment – and asked if there was something we could do. He agreed, and he got the keys for a test drive. As I mentioned, this is a manual transmission. The car I’ve been borrowing in the interim is automatic, so it took me a minute to remember to use both feet while driving. Once I remembered how to do something I’ve been doing for 16 years, we were on our way. The car was a dream to drive – just enough pickup that passing cars on the freeway was no problem. I drove it like I drove the mini, which is to say, like a race car. The salesman even commented on what a good driver I was, especially using the clutch.

We got back to the lot and headed out of the 90-degree sun into the air conditioned office. We ran all the paperwork, and surprisingly, I didn’t need to provide any proof of income or residency. The logic was that since I had an existing car loan only a year and a half old (through a bank that is apparently hard to get approval through), I was still good. In fact, I was in better shape since it was an extra 18 months or so at the same job and same residence. But again, I didn’t have to prove anything. I could have, of course, but I didn’t have any paperwork with me.

Eventually I got to talk to the finance lady, and that’s where we added all the extras. I went with the full extended warranty, as well as oil changes, tire rotation, and dent/ding repair. I was very clear about what was and was not covered under the warranties, and decided it was worth the money, especially since I was the first owner of this car. And because I had such a nice down payment (40% of the total) – or so I thought – the payments were only minimally above what I had been paying on the mini. I literally signed all the paperwork and was now just waiting for the insurance money so I could immediately hand it off to the dealership and get my keys.

A week passed, and I had heard nothing from the insurance. I had called and emailed several times, but with no response. At one point, the dealership even called me to “remind me” that I had a shiny new car waiting for me. Did I forget about them? I told them I would keep trying the insurance. Finally I did get an email response – she claimed she had sent me the paperwork and was just waiting on me. I double checked my emails, but I had not received anything. Later that day, I received the exact same email saying she was waiting on me. I know it was the exact same email because she had copied and pasted something with a typo in it, and it was still there. I again told her I had not received anything at all.

Suddenly she realized why I had not received anything – she never sent it. Why didn’t she send it? Because, in her exact words, “Im not sure what amount I mentioned as far as you keeping the car. I need to clarify a few things. ” Turns out that the numbers she gave me for keeping the car (what I had based my down payment on) were waaaaaaay off. In fact, if I kept the car, I would actually owe them money. Ha ha ha ha…yeah, no. The original numbers she had given me for if the company hauled the car away were still the same, and still acceptable, so I told her to go with those. I made it very clear that I no longer wished to keep the car and I even quoted the numbers back to her so that there was no confusion.

Or so I thought.

I asked multiple questions and kept her updated on what I was doing. If I got a response at all, it was in 14-year old girl textspeak. I would receive emails that said nothing but “ok ty” or “no 🙂 ” This was annoying, because not only was I getting no information, but I did not feel like a professional was handling my case, and my money. After several more useless emails, she finally sent me the form. I had to sign it, get it notarized, and mail it off to release the title of the car. I did this immediately. When I let her know that it had been mailed, she said something to the effect of “Oh wait, I sent you the wrong form. This one is state-specific. Send me this one instead.” But when I looked at it, it was completely the wrong form. Yes it was for my state, but it was not applicable at all to my case. I let her know that it was the wrong form, and pointed out why it was the wrong form (I’ve learned to be very clear and communicate the equivalent of talking very slowly to her). Her response?

“You may be correct…. Let me . In fact disregard.

The person who sent that to me for you misunderstood what I was asking for. Ugh- Im sorry.

The first one you sent is fine.  ”

This email infuriated me. Not only was she delaying my case further, but it continued on in the unprofessional manner that I had sadly gotten used to. I went home and sent an email directly to my insurance company to complain. I explained that regardless of the outcome of my claim, the company is great, everyone else I’ve spoken to has been great, but she was unprofessional. I didn’t necessarily want her to get in trouble, but I don’t appreciate being communicated with this way. I included examples.

I received a telephone call this morning saying they would talk to her and they completely understand, and that no, she wouldn’t be in trouble. A few minutes after the call, I received the following email from my adjuster:

“I would like to apologize to you for the abbreviations via email correspondence.

I agree with you, it is unprofessional. I get caught up in abbreviating with my notes in each claim and I think I probably did the same thing in the email so I would like to apologize.”

It was CC’d to 2 other people, presumably her bosses. It may have been a forced apology, but I know that my complaint was addressed, and that makes me feel good. As a side note, it helped strengthen my faith in the company, and I will definitely be staying with them. I just don’t want to have to deal with this adjuster again. (The insurance company is Esurance, btw. I highly recommend them.) Also, when the guy called, he got my bank info so they can just wire me the money instead of mailing it to me. This should help speed up the process.

Since it turned out I was getting significantly less money than originally planned, I had to re-evaluate this whole “new car” thing. I spoke with the dealership and got some preliminary numbers for my smaller down payment, then evaluated my finances. I decided to stick with the shiny new car. It turned out to be only about $100 more per month than the mini, and as I mentioned, I won’t have to pay for any maintenance for as long as I’m paying off the car. Still worth it. I let the dealership know that I still definitely want the car, and apologized for being a pain in the butt. The lady there is also very nice, and she understands the situation. She said they don’t mind holding the car for a little bit longer, and I assured them that as soon as I have the insurance money in my hand, they will have their down payment. Then all will be well in the world.