Monday, August 15 2011

08:03 – We’re back in stock and shipping on the chemistry kits. This week will be heads-down work on the biology book.

Barbara and I made a Costco run yesterday. As we exited Costco, Barbara signaled and started to change into the left lane and we were sideswiped by a blue sports car. Barbara jerked our car back into the right lane, and at first I wasn’t even sure the two cars had made contact. The driver of that car just continued driving down the road, and Barbara followed her. She turned off into the PetSmart parking lot, where we looked at the damage to the two cars. There wasn’t much apparent damage. Some scraping of the paint on both cars and minor dents in the panels.

Both Barbara and the other driver, a young woman named Marisa Barrone, were quite calm. No one was injured. She said she’d blown her horn, but neither Barbara nor I heard it, although we didn’t have the radio on. My guess is that she was moving a bit fast and perhaps talking on her cell phone. At any rate, things remained friendly and we called the police and waited for them to arrive. The cop didn’t issue a ticket to Barbara. I’m not sure whether or not he ticketed Marisa. So this morning I’ll call our insurance agent and find out what we have to do to get Barbara’s car repaired.

25 thoughts on “Monday, August 15 2011”

  1. “There wasn’t much apparent damage. Some scraping of the paint on both cars and minor dents in the panels.”

    Four years ago I was backing out of my driveway when I noticed that my neighbour’s daughter was backing out of my neighbour’s driveway. (We’re across the street from each other.) I stopped part way out onto the road, as did Maria. I thought because she stopped she must have seen me, but actually she was watching her daughter skating down the road (she lives 10 houses down the road from me and her parents.) So I continued backing out and straightened up to drive down the road. It was at this stage that Maria decided to keep backing out, right into the side of my car.

    There wasn’t much damage at all, she was very apologetic, saying she was worried about her daughter skating down the road. (It’s a very quiet back street.) She told me to get my car repaired and she’d pay for it. We didn’t ring the cops.

    The next day I decided to report the accident (which, apparently, is compulsory no matter how little damage is done. I called Maria to get her details and immediately smelled a very large rodent. She was backing away from her offer to pay for my car to be fixed, although it was clear cut her fault. The next day she said it was a 50-50 at fault accident, so lets just pay for our own panel beating? Yeah right! I spoke to my insurance company, the rotten scoundrels. I told them it was clear cut Maria’s fault, as was obvious from the bump on my car, and that she’d admitted liability. Even though insurance companies insist that liability should never be admitted, no matter how obvious, the scum bags said they wouldn’t be using Maria’s admissions. We each had to may our own bills. Mine was $200, peanuts, but I was as mad as hell at her and my insurer.

    Maria and I haven’t spoken since then, although I get along just fine with her husband and parents. It’s not that I’m unwilling to talk to her, we just never seem to see each other, and her husband is as friendly as ever.

  2. Good luck with the insurance company. This incident will probably be shared responsibility. You will have to pay your deductible and will have a claim on your record. Hopefully your insurance company will not raise your rates, most don’t for the first offense.

    Dealing with insurance companies is never easy. Does not matter which insurance company. They are all scumbags when it comes to auto claims when there is no agreement on the loss. You really have to stand your ground.

    When my ’06 Avalon got smashed in the back dealing with Allstate was miserable (the other fellows insurance). The car was totaled. First offer was was 24K which I refused. I substantiated that the car was worth considerably more. Next offer was 27K which I again refused. Finally they offered 28.5K which was close. I then reminded the insurance company they also had to include the taxes on that amount. They added the taxes but did so for wrong county. I needed an additional 0.5% added so we fought over that.

    Before accepting their next offer I also reminded the insurance company they needed to pay for new license and registration which again they conveniently forget. Before it was done we were down to arguing over $4.00. I still stood my ground. I reminded the insurance company that until a settlement was reached that I liked I would refuse their offer taking it to arbitration if necessary and that such arbitration may take some time and until then they would continue paying for the rental at $30.00 a day. The insurance companies final offer was close enough that I settled.

    Then there was the issue of my camera and lens which were damaged. I demanded the insurance replace, or repair, the items. They opted for repair. I sent the items to NY for repair, overnight FEDEX, insured for $5K. The bill was $147.00 for shipping and $700.00 for repair. The insurance company was not happy but paid the cost anyway.

    I also did not settle the medical claim until 11 months after the accident. That did not make the insurance company happy either but such a delay was in fact perfectly within the guidelines. Insurance companies want to quickly settle medical claims quickly when in fact such claim settlement should be delayed as long as legally allowed, typically one year.

    Insurance companies are not your friend if they have to spend money. They are only your friend as long as they are collecting the premiums.

  3. Our experience with State Farm has been good, without exception. We already have an appointment for one of their approved body shops to fix the damage. (We could have used any body shop, but it makes it much easier and faster to use one of State Farm’s approved shops.)

    The fact that we have no witnesses and that it was Barbara changing into a lane that the other car was already in means by default we’ll be judged responsible for insurance purposes, even though the cops didn’t ticket Barbara. Our agent said our rates won’t increase if the total damage is $1,800 or less. I don’t think any body panels will need to be replaced on either car, so we should be fine.

  4. Good luck with the insurance scumbags. We have government mandated insurance, which means that they know exactly how much to screw you by. The one nice thing about them is if you have had no accidents for ten years, they give you a gimme of one before they raise your rates.

    I haven’t needed to test the system, but friends have, and they seem much nicer than the stories I hear from the other provinces and the States.

  5. If there is a dent the panel will be replaced. The metal is so thin these days that pounding out dents really does not work well. Besides replacing is generally cheaping than pounding. Panels today are actually glued to supports rather than welded. Painting will consume a large part of the cost as that is manually intensive and involves panels beyond the damage for blending purposes.

    My experience with claims has been with Allstate and Progressive. Both were annoying and did everything they could to make it difficult. Of course they were paying claims on their insured’s behalf, not on mine. I was not their client so they had no interest in keeping my business and in fact wanted me to go away as quickly as possible.

    Watch out for outrageous claims from the other driver. Suddenly injuries will appear including neck injuries. Saying there were no injuries at the time of the incident is of little relevance.

    My wife rear-ended a guy. Did $700.00 damage to our van, only a scratch on his bumper that you had to look hard to see and then only if you knew were to look. There were no injuries involved.

    Three weeks later I get a letter from his lawyer demanding payment of $25K. Claimed he could not work or have relations with his wife. The lawyer said a damage award had been rendered and I was legally required to pay the amount.

    I sent a letter back to the lawyer basically stating to pound sand and that I was not legally required to pay a dime until the courts decided, not the lawyer. My insurance company told the lawyer that they (the insurance company) would win such a case in court and that is the only way the insurance would consider any settlement. My insurance also said that since they would win that the insurance company would be entitled to recover all legal costs and these costs would not be covered by his insurance company. So go ahead sue. The guy and his lawyer backed down.

    I was angry over the medical bills which were almost $2K. The insurance company said they do not quibble over medical bills because if they did it worked against them in any settlement they would be forced into if the case went to court.

    My insurance company said this fairly common. A week or two after such an incident they receive outrageous claims. People claim they can no longer function unless they get lots of money. They think accidents are their gravy train because of lawyer ads on TV. When in reality, unless you lose a body part (or function), the award amounts are fairly well defined.

  6. We use American Family for ours cars, homeowners, and umbrella policies. They’ve always been great.

    We have loan/lease gap coverage on our insurance. So, if the car is totalled it will be paid off by the insurance company even if we owe more than it’s worth. From talking to friends and family around the country, it seems that loan/lease gap coverage isn’t available in every state.

  7. I am insured with Travelers insurance. I have 5 policies. Home, Auto (3 vehicles full coverage), Boat, Cameras, and Personal Liability. I give them $224 a month. The car insurance is maxed out which is a requirement for the liability policy which is $1 million. Boat is agreed upon value, not depreciated value. Cameras are for full replacement. Homeowners is full replacement cost + 25% with up to one year temporary housing.

    I don’t feel too badly about the rates as I have heard that one car in New York state or New Jersey would be $300.00 a month or more.

    I have never used Travelers for a claim. From what I understand they do not tolerate incidents well. Part of the reason for the good rates is they tend to only accept very low risk clients.

  8. Saying there were no injuries at the time of the incident is of little relevance.

    Not saying that the guy and his scumbag ambulance chaser attorney were correct, but whiplash may not be apparent for hours or a day after the accident. I was in a car that was rear-ended and didn’t get a sore neck until the next day. Advil and heat for 12 hours and it was fine.

  9. We too are maxed out on coverage, have the smallest deductible allowed, and have a $1,000,000 umbrella policy. It’s probably insurance overkill, but I’m a “worst case scenario” kind of guy. What if I don’t hit and total a $25,000 Toyota Camry, but instead hit and total a $300,000 Bentley? Is the state minimum for liability going to cover that? What if money is tight, I’m cash poor, and I wreck my car? Will I have $500 to $1,000 just laying around for my deductible so I can get to work every morning? I could go on all day with such worst case scenarios. Perhaps it’s absurd, but it gives me peace of mind to be insured to the hilt.

    Honestly, for people with all their insurances with the same insurer (who don’t have a big claim history), and getting the discount that goes with that, it’s a relatively small cost increase to max out your insurance coverage limits and reduce your deductible as much as possible.

  10. A cool science note. Researchers at my alma mater, Rice, have reversed beta-oxydization of fatty acids to make longer chain molecules, including fuels. Said to be 10x as efficient as other methods, uses glucose and salts as feed stock. This could be a game changer in biofuels. Here is the article in , and a .

  11. I have to vent on a complete different topic. We want to come visit family in the US next year. Our 16-year-old’s passport expires this fall, which means we have to renew it before the trip. Because he is still technically a child (this is complicated, but basically anyone under 20 is a child), he must renew his passport in person.

    Worse, *both* parents must be physically present, and the Embassy only renews passports on weekdays for a couple of hours in the morning. So, basically, we must all take at least half a day off work/school. If we wind up with an appointment at 11:00 or 11:30, it will be a whole day.

    It is entirely likely that they will find something wrong, and will send us home. The favorite is finding that the size of the face in your passport photo is a fraction of a millimeter too small or too large, or the background is too dark. Of course, they won’t take the picture there (as any other government office would) – you have to bring a print from a local photographer.

    Then we get to enter the bunker: electronics, watches, belts – these are all taken away at the entrance. If you are lucky to arrive on a rainy day, you wait outside in the rain for however long it takes, waiting for the people ahead of you to be stripped.

    A totally unpleasant experience. Customer service at its worst. I am really looking forward to this…

  12. Brad,

    I’d like to feel sorry, but as I recall you’re in Switzerland(?).

    Try doing the same in India with the Permit Raj mentality, a huge country, and about 4 or 5 US embassies staffed by locals.

    I’m still waiting to set up a bank account before even thinking to apply for a business visa down there. I’m waiting and willing and wanting to give HSBC my money but some hidebound paperpusher keeps finding something technically wrong with the applications along the lines of your passport photograph complaint.

    One tip for you: US passports do NOT contain a permanent residence address, so whenever I’m required to submit a photocopy of same I include a copy of my driver’s license. Can’t hurt, and might save you some time.

  13. Lindsay Lohan didn’t have this problem. lol.

    I renewed my passport in Jan for a trip to Singapore. I got photos at the local CVS. Worse photo I’ve ever had. I’m actually yellow in the photo. No problem. I had my passport two weeks after I sent it in.

  14. it’s a relatively small cost increase to max out your insurance coverage limits and reduce your deductible as much as possible.

    My deductibles are $1K for the vehicles and house, $500 for the cameras. I found that having lower deductibles really increased my rates substantionally. Fortunately I could tolerate a large deductible and still get by.

    If you hit a $300,000 Bentley and you only have $200,000 liability coverage then the Bentley owner’s insurance is on the hook for the rest of the damage minus his deductible. Depending on the amount the other insurance may go after you personally. Increased liability is not that expensive.

    If you have lowered your deductibles because it makes you feel comfortable then it is money well spent even if your insurance agent does not agree.

    Not saying that the guy and his scumbag ambulance chaser attorney were correct, but whiplash may not be apparent for hours or a day after the accident.

    The length of time depends on how long it takes to talk with relatives and friends and decide the incident could be a cash cow. Insurance companies know about it and will stand their ground. All the lawyers that advertise they will get you the maximum amount from a wreck are not doing anything you could not do yourself. The lawyers are just enriching themselves by taking 40% of any award.

  15. “Dealing with insurance companies is never easy. Does not matter which insurance company. They are all scumbags when it comes to auto claims when there is no agreement on the loss. You really have to stand your ground.”

    In the Sixties someone crashed in to the rear of my father’s car. It was clear cut the other guy’s fault. During the negotiations with the other guy’s insurer they told my father “We know it’s our fault, but you try and prove it.” That enraged my father, so he spoke to an acquaintance who had recently graduated from law school. He took them to court and they eventually paid up. My father’s acquaintance charged a pittance for his services. I guess he didn’t like insurance companies either.

    “Insurance companies are not your friend if they have to spend money. They are only your friend as long as they are collecting the premiums.”

    My experiences with insurance companies haven’t been too bad. I’ve never claimed on my home and contents policy. (Had it since 1985.) But there’s a large insurer here called NRMA (National Roads and Motorists Association), two friends independently told me that NRMA is a really great insurer right up to the time that you want to make a claim. Then all sorts of fun and games begin. (Fortunately I’ve never been with them.)

    I’d rather trust a Chicago politician than an insurance company.

  16. I have had two insurance claims over the past five years. Several years ago, our neighbor’s fairly large (about 24″ diameter at the ground) pine tree blew over in a windstorm and landed on our house. Fortunately, its fall was cushioned by one of our trees and it ended up leaning against our house and power line, but did no damage to either our house, our tree or the power line. However, it cost $1,500 to get it removed because of the power line. Both the neighbor and I have State Farm. State Farm determined that it was an “act of god” and that he was not liable. My homeowners insurance covered the removal, but with a $500 deductible. Our neighbor volunteered to pay our deductible, although he had no legal obligation to pay it. This is a neighbor to be cherished.

    Last winter, right before Christmas, we were trying to sell my wife’s car for $1,800. It was in the shop for when out mechanic of many years totaled it. He submitted a claim to his insurance company, Nationwide. Because of the holiday the claims agent was not available. I rented a car for a weekend trip. When the claims agent finally was available, he paid for the weekend car rental, paid for an additional two weeks of car rental and offered us $2,100 for the car plus the cost of the license (about $120). All in all a most reasonable resolution.

    Rick in Portland

  17. he paid for the weekend car rental, paid for an additional two weeks of car rental

    In my dealings with Allstate were no so pleasant. Once we had decided on a property settlement amount it was agreed that I would turn in the rental car on Wednesday. Allstate cut the check and I got the check on Tuesday. I informed Allstate that I had the check and the adjuster said turn the rental in by the end of the business day. I could not as I had made arrangements the following day for transportation.

    Allstate said they would not pay for the extra day. Then I got nasty. I informed Allstate that their settlement check was not the correct amount and was $4.00 short so I would not accept the check. Until they provided a check in the proper amount I was legally entitled to the rental and I would have to extend the rental time. Allstate caved and said I could turn the car in on Wednesday as was our original agreement.

    That is when I really decided to get nasty on the personal injury and delay the settlement as long as possible. In retrospect what I should have done was go to the doctor every week for the next 45 weeks and also had an MRI done. I really should have stuck it to Allstate.

    But, unfortunately such actions only serve to increase the rates for everyone, including myself. Had Allstate been reasonable I would have no considered such actions. But when the insurance company are assholes it is time to crap on them.

  18. The length of time depends on how long it takes to talk with relatives and friends and decide the incident could be a cash cow. Insurance companies know about it and will stand their ground.

    Well, as I said above, I was in a vehicle that was rear-ended (at noon) and didn’t get sore until the next day. My wife is a physician and said that it’s not uncommon for it to take that long. As I said, some heat and Advil and I was O.K. Nobody got sued and no claim was filed since I didn’t have to burn a sick day (the accident was on a Friday).

  19. “Both the neighbor and I have State Farm. State Farm determined that it was an “act of god” and that he was not liable. ”

    I’ll bet an atheist didn’t like being told that something was an “Act of God”. 🙂

  20. I’m sure that even religious people don’t like to be told that. Imagine, worshiping a deity who will push a tree onto your home!

  21. I had a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_God and don’t see why Rick’s insurer shouldn’t have paid up. That’s what insurance is for. If a fire starts in a toaster and the house burns down I don’t see how the insurance company can ethically avoid paying in that case either.

  22. I had a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_God and don’t see why Rick’s insurer shouldn’t have paid up. That’s what insurance is for. If a fire starts in a toaster and the house burns down I don’t see how the insurance company can ethically avoid paying in that case either.

    I’m sure his insurer did pay up. The issue was liability. His insurer determined that the damage was due to an “act of god”, which meant the neighbor was not liable for the damage. So his insurer paid the claim, without going back to the neighbor’s insurer to recoup the loss.

  23. I have a friend that had a similar issue with a tree just last year. A huge pine tree snapped in half and the top fell onto my friend’s property. Both parties called their insurance agent, and the ruling was that it was an Act of God, and both insurance companies paid for only their portion of the cost of removal and replacement of any plants or fences. That meant that both households paid their full deductible. I bet that Act of God is used so both companies get paid their deductible, and to spread the cost around.

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