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HarrytheCarGeek

For those fighting to get the proper compensation from insurance co.

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For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading:

http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/?p=111

 

John Shortell

I’ve taken a part time job working at an independent body shop close to my home writing estimates and supplements and harassing insurance companies. I’ve been at it for a few months now and up until recently I haven’t seen or heard from a Progressive appraiser. Finally, several weeks ago, I had a customer who was hit by one of Progressive’s insureds. Because I’m in a different area of the state now, I’m unfamiliar with the local appraisers. More importantly, they are unfamiliar with me. What fun!

 

First let me admit that I was spoiled working at a high line dealership body shop. Those evil rich drove nice new cars that demanded nice new OEM parts. Now all I see are Honda’s and Hyundai’s. Old ones at that. I’ve never seen so many junk cars in my life. But I guess the poor have to drive too.

Anyway, I had a customer who was hit by a Progressive insured. I wrote an estimate and asked the customer to make arrangements to meet the Progressive appraiser here at my shop. Progressive people hate that. They’d rather look at the vehicle somewhere else. Any where I am not. When the Progressive appraiser showed up I knew there would be trouble. He looked to be about 12 years old. He fit Progressive’s archetype for their ideal appraiser: young, naive and no experience in the collision repair industry.

His estimate was several hundred dollars less than mine. No surprise there. But it was a small repair, and that several hundred dollars amounted to about 30% of my estimate. Of course, the labor rate was an issue, but what really got me wound up with this moronic “blend within the panel” crap. I basically told the kid he could take his “blend within the panel” and have his first sexual experience with it. I wasn’t going to accept it. There were some other issues too, and it all added up to the 30% deficiency. I was beginning to lose my cool because this prepubescent putz couldn’t figure out how to meet my bottom line, so I told him to do what a lot of other appraisers do: make something up and put it on the estimate. Of course, I was being sarcastic, but being so young, this kid didn’t understand the sarcasm and took offense to my suggesting he commit fraud. Well at least the kid is honest.

I asked the kid for his appraiser’s license number and the name of his supervisor and explained that I would be filing a complaint with the insurance department, which I did immediately after he left (And don’t we all know how effective that was). I told the customer not to worry about the difference–I would take care of it. I had her sign a repair authorization, a direction to pay and a power of attorney in case I had to sue the bastards. Working at a dealership I never had the opportunity to sue an insurance company because the owner didn’t want the trouble, but now that I’m working at a small independent shop, the owner is willing to go after insurers who don’t play nice.

I spoke with the kid’s supervisor over the phone about the situation. For the record, she was very pleasant, just like talking to sweet high school girl. I didn’t meet her in person, but by the sound of her voice she was another Progressive clone–too young and inexperienced in anything to be dealing with these issues. But she promised to look into it. I knew I was wasting my time, and I was. After three days of haggling, the young girl managed to come up with another hundred dollars. She was still a couple of hundred short. I explained to her that I was going to sue her insured for the balance. She responded with a perky “OK” like I had just asked her if she wanted to go hang out at the mall. She was trained to perfection. Great job Progressive behavior modification department!

With little effort I was able to locate the guy who hit my customer and promptly mailed him the following letter:

Dear Mr. XXXXX,

On November 29, 2007 you were involved in an accident with XXXXXX, damaging her Honda Civic. Mrs. XXXX brought her vehicle to us for repairs. Your insurance company, Progressive, refused to pay the amount needed to properly repair Mrs. XXXXX vehicle. Mrs. XXXXX has given us her Power of Attorney and we are collecting the remaining balance directly.

The total repair cost was $xxxxx, but Progressive has only agreed to pay $xxxx. Your insurance company has left you owing us $xxx. Your liability insurance is supposed to cover all damages up to your coverage limit, but ultimately you are responsible for any damages not covered by your insurer.

We have filed a complaint with the Connecticut Department of Insurance, and we suggest you do the same. If you need help filing the complaint we will be happy to assist you.

Progressive has already refused to pay the balance. If you do not pay the difference we will be forced to bring the matter to small claims court. Please contact us to discuss this matter, and for payment options. Our phone number is xxxxxxxxx.

Enclosed is a copy of our invoice, paperwork showing what Progressive is willing to pay, and a copy of the Power of Attorney signed by Mrs. XXXXX.

Sincerely,

John Shortell

A few days later I received a phone call from Mr. XXXX. He wanted to discuss the matter. I explained the situation to him in more detail, and he agreed to pay the balance owed and then deal with his insurance company. I again offered to help him in any way I could with filing a complaint with the insurance department or recovering the money from Progressive. He didn’t take me up on the offer, but he did send a check the next day. I’ve yet to hear from him or Progressive so I have no idea if he was reimbursed or not. I do know the gentleman was not too happy about having pay for repairs to someone else’s car after he had been paying premiums for liability insurance. Something tells me Mr. XXXX will be finding someone else to send his hard earned money to for insurance in the near future.

I fully expected to have to go to small claims court. I knew Progressive would not give in, and I never expected the insured to cough up the money so easily. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. But I’ll be damned if I will become a cheap whore just because Progressive is too profit driven to treat my customers fairly. It’s ironic. Progressive was started by a left wing socialist. The name Progressive is not a coincidence. This nut job and his dope smoking kid, who recently stepped down from running the company, preached the progressive movements dogma, and heavily funded many of its whacked out causes. Progressives are supposed to be more fair than the evil rich. They are supposed to care about the little guy and scorn the evil corporations, yet here they are now acting as bad as any corporation ever did. They only care about their profit and share holders. Kind of makes them big time hypocrites. Just my humble opinion.

Lesson learned? Never sell yourself short. If you’re going to be a whore, at least be a high priced whore. Stand up for yourself. Had I gone to court, I most certainly would have won. It is astonishingly easy to demonstrate to a judge how labor rates are artificially suppressed by insurers, how they manipulate the system for their corporate financial gain, and that they will do just about anything to save a buck. To be fair, I would probably do the same if I worked for Progressive or another insurance company. It is all part of their survival. When your cat eats a cute little bird, you may think it horrific, but it is only natural. And it is only natural for collision repairers to fight to survive. What is not natural is when collision repairers give up and play nice at the risk of losing everything. That’s agonizing suicide.

If you’re thinking that I spend a lot of time talking about Progressive, there’s good reason. First, they deserve it. Second, I know my audience–and it’s Progressive. For this past year, Progressive Insurance has been my number one visitor to this website. State Farm has been catching up lately. They are the top visitor this month. Way ahead of everyone else. The only other entities that generate more traffic to this site are the large ISP’s like Road Runner and AOL. I’m flattered. Hopefully some of what I talk about is subliminally sinking in.

Oh yeah, remember my prediction about CCC’s announcement that it would get rid of the prompts for bumper covers? I said it would be slow in coming. Well here we are a couple of months and updates later and it’s still there. Your complaints forced them to make a public acquiescence, but now that the hell raising has died down, no need to rush things. We’re still waiting CCC. Wassup?

One more thing. Apparently there is a lawsuit going on in Arizona against Progressive. The plaintiffs have deposed a former Progressive employee. The deposition is interesting reading. For an inside look on the pressure and incentives to steer vehicles to network shops give it a read. It is only a partial transcript. If anyone has the entire document or a link, please send it to me or link to it in the comments section.

 

http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/nobile-iacano-docs.pdf

 

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Right on target! I applaud you! All the shops should take this attitude. I have stood up to insurance companies and extended warranty companies for years. I will never sell myself short. 

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