I hate insurance companies

I carry insurance on my vehicles because of liability issues, because I want protection from catastrophic damage, and because I’m legally required to (in that order :-).

Two weeks ago my truck was hit from behind by a taxi while I was stopped at a pedestrian crossing. The guy hit me at an angle, so the right front corner of his car hit the left-center of the rear bumper. My truck doesn’t have any wishy-washy fiberglass or Styrofoam; it has a steel bumper, welded to the frame, with a plastic wrap-around cover.

His damage was a badly mangled right front bumper; he probably also cracked his headlight cover. My damage was a couple of new scuff-marks and a small, cosmetic fold in the plastic. I won that argument :).

Unfortunately, the taxi driver took off before giving me his drivers license and before taking any of my info. We had his insurance information, but that’s for the owner of the taxi, not the driver. And the insurance binder he showed us was expired. There was enough suspect about the whole incident that I decided to report the issue to my insurance company and the police, just to cover my butt (see “liability” above).

I took the truck to both the insurance company’s repair shop and my dealership, because I wanted to make sure there was no structural damage; it’s always possible that he cracked a weld on the bumper, for example. Both reported that there is no damage to the car, other than the plastic bumper cover and a $23 reflector. The cover cannot be repaired; it must be replaced, which they estimate at $932. I tow a trailer during the summer; once or twice a year I back into the trailer hitch, adding to the dings and scuffs in this plastic cover, so as far as I’m concerned, there’s absolutely no point in wasting everyone’s time (and money!) replacing the cover. It’s cosmetic damage, and even counts as “normal wear and tear” under my lease (I asked).

One reason I pay a god-awful amount of money for insurance is that car repairs are so expensive these days. Gone are the days of buffing out dings and dents in steel panels; now it’s all plastic composites, fibreglass, and large, wrap-around panels. So, thinks I, why contribute to this sad state of affairs by performing a useless $900 repair?

My insurance company has just informed me that if I don’t do the repair, they’ll drop my coverage. They say that if I have another accident, they can’t distinguish new and pre-existing damage. This despite the number of photographs taken by at least five different people in the process, and the damage report and estimate from the cops and from the repair shop.

All this for an accident I normally wouldn’t have bothered reporting… *sigh.

posted at 11:52 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments (5)


  1. Jeff K says:

    A pickup truck’s tire flew off on the 400 and landed on the 407 immediately in front of me one fine morning this past August. It made a horrific noise at 100km/h hitting my roof, coming, by my calculations, within 3 milliseconds of entering the cabin instead of just wrecking the roof. The cop said it was a non-reportable (i.e. <$900), but I insisted it be reported, and in the end, the insurance company was out $5,000. Despite this, I got the distinct impression by what was said that dropping $5k on a near-fatal was nothing to the insurance company and I was treated rather well.

    Actually, the dump-truck behind drove over the wheel after it hit me and then 4 lanes of traffic created a huge cloud of blue smoke behind me as they all came to emergency stops while the wheel rolled across all lanes in front of them. Lucky dogs, they had more than 250 milliseconds to deal with the thing. I suppose the insurers did get off easy on that one.

    See, aren’t you glad? I stayed alive by being cool for 250 milliseconds and doing the “right” thing, and the insurance companies saved millions in compensation, so between us, they’re way ahead.

    Hm, but is ducking your head to be right up against the steering wheel airbag the “right” thing? I guess we’ll never know.

  2. Ron says:

    Wow, now that is one twisted insurance company. Unless there is something different about Canada in this regard I don’t expect you can freely change insurance, right? And the new insurance company doesn’t come out and do a detailed inspection on your car, right? So they wouldn’t know about pre-existing damage …

    Last year we had a storm and I started a claim with the insurance company because I didn’t know how bad the damage would be and didn’t want to risk waiting a few weeks until I knew for sure. But while I was talking to them I asked if I could tell them to “forget the whole thing” later and they said no problem canceling a claim. Which is what I ended up doing.

  3. chk says:

    To prevent fraud, all of the insurance companies up here share information with each other, including claims histories, so I’m SOL on that account. Also, I’m with an insurance company that offers HP employees a 20% group discount, so I’m locked in, at least for a few more months! :)

  4. chk says:

    Jeff, I’m glad you’re visiting here again! You always have the best stories to share!

  5. jim says:

    In WA state insurance companies share information. When I started my new insurance with Farmers’, my agent Michelle L. found a couple of claims showing $0 paid. It was from me calling and asking about damages and coverage. To prevent problems, she had to come out and take pictures of my truck to show it was in good condition.

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