Mazda 3 Repaired

When I first posted about my car being damaged, I had little idea about the length and complexity of the journey I was about to undertake in getting it repaired.  On August 21st, when I discovered the damage, I did everything that insurance companies tell you to do.  Before even calling Progressive, I took several pictures of the damage from many angles, and also of the location in which the car was parked with regards to the other spaces in the lot.  I contacted Progressive immediately afterwards and provided all of my information as well as all of the information contained in the note left by the mother of the girl responsible for the damage.  A few hours later, I contacted a body shop and got an estimate for the repairs within the same day.  After speaking with the insurance adjuster from Progressive later that day, I asked if there were any other steps I could take or any other parties to which I could send either the pictures, a copy of the note from the responsible party, a copy of the estimate, or the transcript I had kept of the day’s events.  I was told that there was nothing else I could do but wait to hear from the other insurance companies assigned adjuster.

What followed was one of the most drawn out processes I have had to endure for quite some time.  The initial claims adjuster assigned to my case was based in Colorado.  After I sent the body shop estimate to the claims adjuster, they almost instantly disputed it and in a very arbitrary feeling way.  Not once had they sent any representative to inspect the car.  The only evidence of the damage were the photographs I had emailed to the adjuster and the very rough textual description of the visible damage I had been able to give over the phone.  Armed only with that very vague information, the claims adjuster proceeded to inform me that they had found the estimate from the body shop to be inaccurate to the tune of exactly $70.  Furthermore, the dispute was with the labor rates of the shop.  What sat most unpleasently with me about all of this was that when I asked the adjuster how they came to this conclusion about the inaccuracy, she replied “Well, I just know what it costs to get a car fixed, and this is way more than local mechanics charge and I disagree with the damage assessment.”  Therein lay the key that caused me to now dispute this quite vehemently.  “What local mechanics charge” and “disagree with the damage assessment.”  I pushed the issue more harshly now, asking just quite how someone in Colorado familiar with their “local rates” could come to such an accurate discrepancy as $70 having only seen several emailed photographs of damage to a car several states away.  The phone went pretty silent and the voice on the other end sounded quite shaky when I indicated that I had a full transcript of the entire claim history and that I would like very much to be put in contact with a supervisor.  It was less than a day later that my claim had been transferred to a local adjuster who approved the original estimate without even asking me for a copy of it.  The only question I was asked was “Did I hear right that this claim is for less than a thousand dollars on a 2005 Mazda 3?” I replied that, yes, the person had heard correctly, to which the local adjuster responded “Well then get your car scheduled in for repairs and let’s get this claim settled. This is an easy one.” Within a few hours, I had my car scheduled for repairs, a rental car agreement in place courtesy of the insurance company, and a feeling that finally sanity was starting to return to the process.

The following is a short list of the most major events involved in the process.  I have removed references to the real people involved in the claims process, instead referring only to “Progressive claim adjuster” and “American Family claim adjuster”.  While this may seem an overly pedantic log to several people, it was the evidence that this transcript existed that actually allowed me to gain traction during the period that the claim was stalled.  Having detailed evidence of the events proved extremely useful once dicussions involving supervisors and escalation of the problem entered into the picture.

Order of Events
08/21/2007 09:00   Discovered damage to car and discovered note on windshield claiming responsibility.
08/21/2007 09:04   Called Progressive directly to start the claim process.
08/21/2007 09:57   Called Progressive again and was put in touch with a Progressive claims adjustor who was unavilable.  Left voicemail containing full details of the claim.
08/21/2007 10:16   Progressive claims adjuster returned my call indicating that they had been assigned to the claim.
08/21/2007 10:40   Progressive claims adjuster called again and provided the name of the American Family Insurance claims adjustor.
08/21/2007 12:43   Contacted Autowerks NW to discuss their availability to give an estimate and learned that I could receive an estimate today up to 4:30pm.
08/21/2007 13:38   Took a call from American Family claim adjuster regarding the claim. “We (American Family) are still waiting to contact the responsible party regarding the claim before they will accept liability.”
08/21/2007 13:45   Voicemail from American Family claims adjuster containing their fax number and email address.
08/21/2007 14:30   Arrived at the Autowerks NW lot to request an estimate. Provided the information about American Family Insurance, claim adjuster contact information, and the claim number.
08/21/2007 15:00   Car was inspected by a representative from Autowerks NW. I received a copy of the full estimate.

08/22/2007 12:05   Faxed the note left by the responsible party and a copy of the estimate from Autowerks NW to the claim adjuster from American Family Insurance.
08/22/2007 12:13   Left voicemail with American Family claim adjuster to ask for confirmation that the fax was received and for an update on the claim status.
08/22/2007 12:47   Called and left voicemail with Progressive claim adjuster to keep them in the loop about the current status of the claim.
08/22/2007 14:17   Received return call from American Family claim adjuster confirming that they have accepted liability and that the fax of the note and estimate were received.
08/22/2007 14:22   Emailed photographs of the damage to American Family claim adjuster.  Included a note in the email that I wish to receive a copy of any revisions to the estimate and that only NEW parts are to be used.
08/23/2007 13:41   Call from American Family claim adjuster to inform that the revised estimate had been sent to the body shop and that she would contact again once the body shop approved. I noted that I had explicitly requested to receive a copy of that estimate.
08/23/2007 14:07   Call from Progressive claim adjuster regarding a call made to American Family claim adjuster to check on the progress of the claim.

08/24/2007 09:43   Called Autowerks NW for an update on current claim status. Said that they would call me back once they had looked up the latest details.
08/24/2007 10:38   Received call from Autowerks NW. American Family had faxed a different estimate to Autowerks NW for $70 less that the original estimate.
08/24/2007 10:52   Called American Family claim adjuster back regarding the revised estimate.  Left voicemail asking about the problem with the estimate and how to progress from here.
08/25/2007 09:21   Received voicemail from American Family claim adjuster requesting a callback.  (It’s Saturday. I will return the call on Monday morning.)

08/27/2007 09:10   Called American Family claim adjuster back regarding the hold-up with the repair estimate.
08/27/2007 13:15   Called Autowerks NW to try to get an update on the claim status.

08/28/2007 09:03   Received call from Autowerks NW indicating that a local adjuster would now become involved because the $70 difference had become a blocking issue.
08/28/2007 14:01   Received a call from Progressive claim adjuster regarding update on the claim, that they were aware of the dispute over $70.

08/29/2007 07:30   Received voicemail from a new American Family claim adjuster (a local adjuster) indicating they would be handling the claim from this point forward because the first adjuster had messed things up.
08/29/2007 07:39   Returned call to local adjuster.  Left my phone number for callback.
08/29/2007 08:49   Received call from local adjuster.  He gave the OK to get my car scheduled in at Autowerks NW to get the repairs completed for the original estimate amount. (Finally some progress!)
08/29/2007 08:53   Called Autowerks NW to schedule Mazda in for repairs.  September 10th is the earliest available date.
08/29/2007 09:02   Called local adjuster back to confirm repair date and inquire about rental car details.
08/29/2007 09:03   Called American Family Insurance (Enterprise rental) to schedule a rental car.  They will direct bill the insurance company for the rental.
08/29/2007 09:28   Received call from Enterprise car rental confirming the time day, duration, reservation number, and drop-off/pick-up location.

09/10/2007 07:55   Dropped off Mazda at Autowerkz NW and met Enterprise rental representative.  Drove away in Dodge Charger rental car- uggh!
09/15/2007 14:00   Received call that Mazda was ready and returned rental car to Autowerkz.  Picked up Mazda in repaired state.  Woohoo, it’s finally over!

It took almost a month!

The fact that such a simple claim had to take so many steps to resolve simply baffles me.  I’m sure that insurance companies play hard-ball because they get plenty of fraudulent claims, but why is it that I seem to be the one paying the price for that?  I’m glad that we were eventually able to get the repairs made to my car and that a rental car was provided for the days in between to avoid a problem getting to work.  However, the enormous expense involved with all of the long-winded communication and arguments over the phone to get there seems completely wasteful to me.  An enormous amount of human effort and productivity was lost in simply filing a perfectly legitimate claim.  All I did was park my car cleanly between the lines of a parking spot in my apartment complex lot where upon it was hit by a another driver.  The insured party left their full details and I followed absolutely every step required of me to the letter.  Despite following every guideline published by insurance companies for such a process, I found it to be extremely inefficient and time-consuming and I question that I would have received a positive outcome had I not been extremely persistent and repeatedly insistent that the insurance company uphold their part of the deal.  I doubt that most people argue so voraciously and are willing to confront people on the phone repeatedly to get the service they are entitled to.  That is a very sad state of affairs indeed considering that the claim in the situation was almost ideal.  Both parties had full insurance and all insurance information was provided as soon as the damage was discovered.  The damage was not serious, the repair estimate was very low considering that this is a fairly new car, and no additional medical or psychological damages were sought.  All paperwork and requirement documentation were fulfilled and provided in an extremely timely manner, and yet still the claims adjuster felt the need to fight it.  That really sends the wrong signals to a truthful and honest insurance consumer who simply wishes to get their car repaired in a timely fashion.  Needless to say that American Family Insurance have joined the list of companies that will never see a dollar of my business.  You get one chance to do business with me.  Don’t try to screw me, or it will be your last.

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