Sunday, July 06, 2008

Loyalty is worth $4/yr...

I've been with the same insurance company for the last 22 years - Liberty Mutual. I got in one wreck last year, no fault of mine, my car was destroyed and I had a broken toe.

The thieves at Liberty Mutual totally screwed me over - they fought me every step of the way. Customer service constantly called me by my fathers name and could never understand that my name was Bryan, even when I yelled at them for it. They were willing to fix everything that someone could see was wrong from the outside of the car, like the bodywork, but they weren't interested in fixing any of the mechanials or electronics that were destroyed. After about 20 phone calls, I finally got them to agree to pay for about half of the damages to my car. Then they fought with the body shop. They totally convinced me that the full coverage insurance they'd sold me was a total lie - there was no way they were ever going to pay for damages to my car and the car was old and destroyed anyway - so I switched to liability-only.

Recently I bought a new car and needed full-coverage insurance. I didn't really want to use Liberty Mutual, but I was too busy to shop for insurance, so I called Liberty Mutual. They quoted me $930/yr for the new car, so I accepted and paid the first few months of the policy. I received insurance cards and a written policy in the amount of $930. Then they called back. They said that the $930 was a quote and wasn't exact since they didn't have the VIN, and that the actual price would be $1124/yr for the new car. Except that it was a total lie. I gave them the VIN from the start, and it wasn't a quote, they wrote a policy and sent it to me, I accepted and they took my money for it. But they were greedy and stood by their higher new price.

OK, time to start looking. I've seen those Geico commercials like three times an hour for the last 10 years and so I called them. You know what they say - they'll save you hundreds of dollars over what you're paying now. And they did. For the same coverage, they wanted $737/yr, or $387 less than Liberty Mutual.

I called Liberty Mutual and told them about the Geico rate. I made it clear that I would have been happy to have paid $200 too much, and that it was their greediness which caused me to start shopping around, and surprise, the first place I looked was $400/yr cheaper. They thanked me for being a customer for the last 22 years and asked for a chance to reconsider their rates, and I still didn't really want to go to the work of switching insurance companies, so I agreed. They took a day and came back with this response:

"Dear Bryan,

Thanks for allowing me review your account. As requested, attached you will find Automobile Insurance Proposal, we are unable to compete with Geico at this time. Thanks for insuring with Liberty Mutual and have a fantastic day :) "

Because I'd been a loyal customer, the attached proposal was for $1120. $4 cheaper than before, and only $383/yr more than Geico. :)

So I called back Geico and accepted. The guy on the phone could not have known less about insurance, so I gave up and accepted one of the packaged policies that appeared to be similar to what I had with Liberty Mutual, and hopefully without the "Broomstick-up-the-butt" rider the Liberty Mutual policy carried.

Then I called Liberty Mutual. They asked why I would even consider leaving after being a customer for 22 years. So I told them. They seemed sad that they were losing business, but they weren't willing to do anything about it, and they weren't sorry for lying to me. No problem - you're fired.

It occurs to me that they may be right - from what I can tell from other areas of life like relationships and jobs, loyalty is worth about $4 a year.


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The cost of a speeding ticket...

No, I didn't get a speeding ticket three days after I got the new car.

My insurance company of 22 years got greedy about the same time that I got a new car. They issued me a policy for $930, I agreed and paid in full and got a written policy for that amount. Then they called back and wanted $1124. I checked Geico.com, who wanted $425 less for identical coverage.

I actually called Liberty Mutual and told them about the Geico quote and gave them another chance to reconsider and just charge me the original $930 we all agreed to - in writing. After all, I'd insured my cars through them for the last 22 years. They took a while, thought about it, and responded with a counter-proposal of $1120. $4 less than before.

Then I called Geico. Turns out that after they checked the license, they found the speeding ticket I got while driving from STL to Rolla three years ago to see my best friend who was dying from cancer - she actually passed away about the same time as I was stopped in Eureka, MO, trying to explain why I was driving 125MPH by an amusement park which apparently they treat like a school zone.

Well - turns out that Geico checked, and that the quote went up because of the ticket. It went up $23.00/year. But it goes away after three years. So the cost of the speeding ticket is $64 for the ticket, and $23.00/year for the next 6 months, for a total of $75.50.

My analysis says that if I would have paid Eureka, MO the extra bribe money they wanted to reduce the charges to a bad muffler, it would have cost $200 more than it did just paying for the ticket. Unless someone has a bunch of tickets and is in danger of losing a license, it makes no sense to get the charges reduced by paying for a lawyer or paying extra and agreeing to a "lesser" charge.

So I'm done with doing business with Liberty Mutual and with the city of Eureka Missouri. I'll take an alternate route to St Louis.

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