Our stolen car saga and why I’ll be switching insurance companies.

On December 18, our 2000 Toyota Corolla was stolen. This is a car that I inherited from my mother when I moved back to the States from Germany in 2005.  Even though it was 5 years old, she’d only driven it about 40,000 miles, basically to work and back.  The car was pristine.  Like new.

Having the car meant everything to me.  I could commute to my job (working as a post-doctoral researcher at NMSU.)  Soon my daughter was born, and we installed a cute little pink car seat.  Then 2 years later, we installed a second little pink car seat for our second daughter.

Now, at 12 years old and about 80,000 miles (we still just used it as a commuter car, no drag racing, no cross-country trips) it’s been stolen.

We reported the car to our insurance company, who told us that in 2 – 4 weeks, we’d either have the car found and fixed and back in our hands, OR have a check to replace it.  We’re talking 2000 Corolla here, max check would have been about $5500.  Not enough for a new car, but enough for a down payment on something safe for the girls.

The Monday after New Year’s the police told us that they’d found it. Yay! (We thought.)

The car has a dent in the side, cigarette burns throughout, won’t accelerate out of first gear without the gas pedal to the floor, the windows won’t go up and down, the windshield is a mass of spider cracks, and it reeks of smoke (cigarette and otherwise.)

OK, we thought, they’ll either just total it out (surely all of this will cost more in time and money to fix than the car is worth?) OR fix it and return it.  IF they can get the car into the same condition and IF it’s safe and non-smoky for my kids, ok.

It’s been 8 weeks.  We still have no car. The claim has ben mis-handled by the adjustor in every instance from not including us on the initial walk – around to not ordering parts (or making sure that they’ve been ordered.)

I’ve been trying to reach someone at the insurance company to make them aware of what’s happening with absolutely no luck.  I have been accused of everything from damaging and ditching the car myself to being irate & hysterical.  The company tells me that there’s a “chain of command” complaint process and so far, it’s been possible only to complain to the local office that’s been mis-handling this claim the whole time. (What effect do you imagine that this has on my relationship with them and on their service to my car?)

SO, after all of this is said and done, I will be switching insurance companies to one where I can go into an office and speak to an agent.  Where my agent knows my name and cares what happens to me and to my family.  I am so disappointed.  I’m tired of the anxiety of not knowing what will happen, of feeling like I’m out of line for being angry, and for being treated like a criminal, or like I’m trying to take advantage of this company.

I’ve been a loyal customer since 2005, have paid my premiums on time every month. This process is affecting my life, my job, my sleep, my family, and I feel just helpless.  It’s been a horrible, awful process.

The theft itself was awful, but I’m over that.