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.


21 thoughts on “Our stolen car saga and why I’ll be switching insurance companies.

  1. I can highly recommend AMICA insurance company. We have always had fabulous customer service, and a willingness to completely repair our cars to the condition they were in before the accident or incident. Fast service, and no run-around. Usually, we deal with one person at the company who follows the claim from beginning to end.
    Over 30+ years, we have only had positive experiences with this company. If you email me directly, I can give you more info and you can use me as a referral.

  2. So sorry for your loss, frustration and unbelievable hassle. Perhaps it’s a mite petty but I think you should name the company and forward a link to your blog to their marketing department and president.
    Good luck to you. No one deserves this kind of treatment.

  3. Write to your state’s insurance commisioner, as well as your state rep in the legislature detailing what has happened and the insurance company’s response. CC the insurance company on the letter. I have found this step will get the attention of the insurance company’s faster than any other measure. Good luck.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about this ordeal you are experiencing. So far, knock wood, we have dealt with real people with our insurances. Banking is another issue. I was recently dealing with an issue with a big bank for my mothers account after she died. They wouldn’t give me the money in her account without me probation the will. I had to probate the will just for that account. I had no problems otherwise. I had a savings account in that bank and closed it soon after. I now only deal with banks where I can walk in and talk to people and they know me. It’s sad that the business climate is getting away from that with all the mergers and conglomeratioins.

    I am becoming a small business proponent more and more.

    I stand with you in solidarity while you deal with this issue that should not be this hard.


  5. I was hit by a kid who ran a red light. The driver had geico and it was awful. They gave me hassle about everything, from replacing the car seats ( yes, the 1 year old and 4 year old were with us) to the 6 months of physical therapy (my neck still hurts 7 years later.). The car was totalled too. The phone person was so awful I yelled at his supervisor and got a new phone person…who was almost as bad.

    You are not alone. Keep fighting. I won just through sheer tenacity and stubornness. You can too. And you can believe I will NEVER switch to geico.

  6. I am sorry to hear about your ordeal. Unfortunately, customer service is no longer a priority with many industries. We are left to advocate for yourselves and this can be quite frustrating. I will pray that this matter be resolved soon for you and your family.

  7. Oh that is just terrible…I don’t know if my insurance company is available where you are, but they’ve been wonderful with the few claims we have had, Erie Insurance is the name of the company and they are out of PA. I have an agent who knows me, and this have always been handled fast and in a way that I’ve been happy with.

  8. Go see a lawyer. You needn’t spend a fortune. Generally insurance companies will come to full attention when they see that you are represented. In this instance all you will probably need is one letter, one very stern letter, from legal counsel to the insurance company.
    It is money well worth spending in that it will probably wrap this situation up quickly.
    Best of luck.

  9. Don’t know if you are on either Twitter or Facebook, but if you want some attention from the national office of your insurance company (assuming they have one) tell your story on either of those forums and you are more likely to get attention. It’s one of those places where social media actually benefits the little guy. The big companies don’t want bad publicity on those sites.

    Just an idea. Sorry about the car hassle. It seems to me any time I have to deal with a corporation these days it is fraught.

  10. Personally, I think it would be worth naming the insurance company with whom you are having the difficulties. If they are not helping you, then I bet they are not helping others. It would give everyone a chance to research and decide if they would choose this particular company.

    I am very sorry for your troubles, too.

  11. I always follow my sister-in-laws philosphy: contact the CEO of the company. Who cares about the chain which is currently responsible for your lack of help. She got required pre-admission papers at BC/BS Arkansas, but they were saying they were not going to pay after the procedure. After several weeks of “no help” at the state level, she contacted the CEO and voila (after a few days), the bill was paid!
    Lesson learned: GO TO THE CEO!!!
    They love to feel like they are doing something important.

  12. I’m so sorry. I have not had this type of experience with insurance, but I HATE Honda!!! Hang in there…. and knit a lot! :)

  13. Once I have been accused by my landlord to have damaged on purpose the appartement (in fact, he damaged the “thing” himself when fixing something else in the appartement… in front of me… a few month earlier).

    I was sooooooooooooooooooo angry for being treated like that. (people telling me I was a lyer). So I feel you.

    Hopefully, everything will come back to normal soon :)

  14. Similar thing happend to my mother-in-law. She ended up hiring a lawyer and changing insurance companies.

  15. Oh No! I’m so sorry you have had to go through this and over such an extended time frame!!! What a shame! I can’t imagine the frustation or emotional roller coaster you’ve been through. :*( Sending you cyber-hugs!!!!

  16. File a complaint with you state’s insurance office, probably called something like the state commissioner of insurance.

  17. Lucky you. In BC Canada, everyone has the same Government Insurance company. Some of us have to wait YEARS to go to court to get ripped off & some of us go to the Big Local Paper with the details to get paid. It’s amazing how these companies respond to public outrage!! I’m surprised that they didn’t just write it off – age, age, age – & hand you a cheque?? Suggest they supply you with a RENTAL car so you can get to work while you wait. Maybe some Incompetent will actually do so. Good luck. Oh, cute sweaters!

  18. I was completely astounded by your insurance story, especially when I am a Manager of one, in the Claims Department. I truly hope that you do find a different company, because we are all not that bad.

  19. I’m so sorry for the extra stress this should not be giving you. Plus the loss of trust this will continue to give you. I agree you should not only go to a good attorney but also you should publish the name of the company. The corporations in this country have started to learn they see the loss of power this kind of media brings them. We have become more and more taken advantage of due to the time and cost to fight these cases. It’s hard to be a whistleblower, which I find an interesting way of calling names. Be proud and save someone else the pain your going through. Good luck and the righteous should always be heard.

  20. It was Progressive, and the only way that I ended up getting any attention from them was to launch an all-out Twitter & Facebook campaign. They finally did pay out on the car, but it took about NINE weeks! I’ve since switched insurance companies.

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