Monday, March 5, 2012

Ramblings in comprehensive car insurance claims - a comparison

On Saturday after collecting my car from the workshop, I thought to myself how pleasant the experience was compared to back home in Malaysia.

A week earlier, someone hit my car from behind - not a major accident but right side of the bumper and lights were damaged. Other driver was at fault and so in summary this is what I did.

1. Dropped by the insurance office (it happend to be a couple of minutes away)to check on the procedure.

2. I was told that I had to call a toll free number to make the report. And to make it easier, a staff there told me I could use their phone and offered to get all my insurance details form the computer so I had all the necessary info at hand.

3. I called explained and since I had the other driver's details the person on the phone told me it would be much easier to handle and told me that since it was not my fault, the would be no excess fee. Then asked if I would like her to do the report for me online. I obviously said yes

4. I did my report over the phone and she read it back to me and I confirmed it. Was accurate (she read out a legal statement and I had to verbally say I agree) -

5. I was asked to go to the insurance workshop where they do the car assessments. They asked my location and gave me the centre nearest to me. She checked on my transport situation and offered to arrange a taxi (free as part of the service) to take me home.

6. When I arrived at the centre, I was met by a service rep who told me where to park. He introduced himself and took photos etc and asked me basic questions, read out my report and asked for clarifications - I made a correction / clarification which he took down. He proceeded to explain the procedure which included

a. How my car would be st to a repair shop and when returned theynwiuld not release my car until they were satisfied as to the quality of the repair (life time guarantee?)

b. that they would call me to let me know the estimated time of repair and that they wiuld call one day ahead of time to confirm when the car could be picked up

c. And if I wanted they would arrange for a taxi to pick me up and send me to the centre

7. I signed the release of my car and was asked to go to their waiting room where someone else gave me a small folder with all the procedure information, phone numbers, my claim number and the business Cardiff the person assigned to my case .

8. I was then told that a taxi had been called and would arrive soon and they would let me know when the taxi arrived.

9. A few hours later I got a call informing me of the estimated date the car would be ready.

On the day before my car was ready I called to check on the progress and to my disappointment I was told that theeyead just got word that there was mix up in one of the spare parts and so my car (which was due for Friday) would only be ready on Wednesday as the workshop ( out sourced) had to put in a new order.

I expressed my disappointment as it was inconvenient to not have a car and I did not sign up for extra premium where I could get a special rate for a rental car if I had an accident.
*sigh* one of those things ....

I left it at that. Then in Saturday morning (11 am) I got a surprise call to say that my car was ready for pick up - it had been sent back early by the workshop and I was asked if I wanted to pick up my car today. Of course I said yes.

I was told that I had to pick it up before 12.30 pm. I said not problem and asked the person to arrange a taxi for me. He told me someone would call me back in a few minutes on that.

And someone did 5 minutes later to say a taxi would be over shortly.

Then a hiccup.

Taxi arrived and as he was driving I noticed he was using a strange route that seemed to me out of the way. I asked him and he said that his instructions was to take me to the Penrose centre. I told him my car was t to the Avondale centre.

He told me that he was just following the call centre's instructions and told me it was ok as they (taxi company) did a lot of jobs for the insurance company and he knows personaly of cases of cars sent to a different centre for pick up.

So ok .... I am cool with that. But when we arrive I finder that I was right. My car was at Avondale. And it was 12.15 pm. Taxi company call centre made an error.

Penrose calls Avondale and explains the situation and taxi is instructed to send me to the right centre and that they will wait for me. Nice customer service as I know how sticky some Kiwis can be on leaving work for home on time!

I arrive at Avondale and person took me to my car, asked if i was happy with the job ( i was!) gave me the keys and I drove off.

Now to my Malaysian experience (granted it was 15 years or so ago) ...

Mother's 3 month old Toyota - hit from being by a motor yclist who was speeding. I was stationary and signalling to turn. I could hear his bike and from my rear view mirror could see him speeding and not even looking ahead till it was too late and could see the horror on his face as he sslammed on his breaks realizing he would to be able to stop in time.

Ironically similar damage - rear bumper and right rear lights.

Got his details, he is at fault and knows it and admits it - and so i go to make a police report

Bottom line - police investigates and verifies that I am not at fault at all. Cannot pin any fault on my part. Tyres are brand new. I was stationary (and I have a witness who saw the whole thing as it was outside his house ...) The tyre marks are clear on the road and everything is consistent with my story.

Workshop requires that I get an independent evaluator and they provide one saying that insurance companies are known to challenge the assessments of repair workshops and they will not do any repairs until cost is agreed on as they end up losing money when insurance companies will not pay.

Btw Car is stuck for weeks until all this below is sorted out.

Then the nightmare begins.

1. Insurance company (despite it being comprehensive) and me providing an independent evaluator will not pay the full amount for the repairs. I think it was something like $4,800 and they offer something like $2,800! What?! I thought to myself - why not you provide your own evaluation instead of me getting a quote from the workshop and getting an independent adjuster and then arguing it is too high? Too high on what grounds?!

2. Can't recall anything about any excess fee but I remember being informed that I would lose my NCB discount! What!?! But it was not my fault!

3. Yes, they know up the a client involved a motorcyclist and he was injured. He was fine on the day.... yes, but you are in a car and protected while he is on a bike and not protected so i have an 'unfair' advantage. What?! that's my fault? Also he may decide to sue me later for injuries sustained in th accident for that reason! What!? He was okay. He did not fly off his bike or anything dramatic. In fact he rode off on his bike!! Yes ... But injuries may come up a few months after and he might sue ... Sue for what!? He was at fault. He hit me and the police investigation confirms that I was not in the wrong - no contributing factor at all. Yes ... But if he decides to sue then it will ost money so you have lost your NCB

I go back and calculate and realize that if my mother loses her NCB she will end up paying a significantly larger amount of money in the long run.

4. Meanwhile back to the insurance company. I have to write and argue that I do not accept their evaluation .... And wait a few weeks after for them to come back with a counter proposal. Something like $3200 a final offer take it or leave it"

What nonsense is this? Stupid rule of only paying up to 80% of what you are insured for or something to that effect. So then why do pay such a high premium in the first place?
And it is frustrating as I borrowed my mother's new car to go to the church down the road!!
And stupid corruption in Malaysia where the Proton is protected so that her Toyota is four to five times the price it should be so the premium is so high!

5. I call a lawyer friend for advice. His advice? Take the offer or you will get nothing as it is considered a small amount (under $5000) and if you want to challenge you have to go to small claims courts(?) and th insurance company will tie you up for years - costing you lots of time and money - and you will not get more than what's offered.

6. You guessed it - I took the offer, lost almost $2000 for something that wasn't my fault. I have to pay for repairs first And wait months for whatever percentage of the reimbursement.
And I switched insurance companies ....

This is yet another reason why I like it better here in New Zealand!!!

1 comment:

  1. Just noticed that typing this on an iPad has created a lot of interesting typos a the programme corrects my typing errors and creates new words and meanings :-)