How secure are you with your current insurance company?
The question came up over the weekend after a fender bender in a local parking lot. Once the insurance was called, there was a time lapse of more than seventeen hours before we received a return call with directions as to how to handle our claim. Those seventeen hours were over a holiday weekend, and overnight, during which time we were cozy and warm with family members and our vehicle had been towed to a safe place… But what if we had been farther from home or family? Or maybe stranded on the road somewhere?
The event made us rethink our company and agent status.
How fast does your insurance company respond to an emergency?
In each case the situation may differ, depending on how bad the accident is, how extensive the damage, or even whether your vehicle is still drivable or not. But the bottomline in any accident is how fast can you be made whole again? Don’t you need to know?
While our vehicle wasn’t immobilized, it was unsafe to drive it far, and damage to a tire would have made it extremely difficult to drive further than a few miles without unreasonable extended costs. We chose to have it towed to prevent further damage.
Is reimbursement the usual option?
When there was no reconnect for towing, we paid the towing company. Then later found out that reimbursement is the standard operating procedure when paying for a tow truck. This process had been unclear in any prior discussions. Do you know how your insurance company handles a towing claim?
There were obviously no injuries, since we spent the night with family. But what if we’d been sent to a hospital for care? Would there have been a response from the insurance? Would there have been funding for immediate care? What would have happened if we were released from the hospital with no family and no vehicle in the middle of the night?
The questions just didn’t stop.
But who do you call on a holiday weekend to find solutions for your insurance?
That was the big question. Although holiday weekends are rare, and it’s even rarer that we travel over a holiday, this was our biggest new concern. When we do travel over a holiday, it can be for long distances. What’s the answer?
That’s when we started looking to our insurance agent for a solution. And these were the recommendations that made the most sense to us:
- Be sure you’re working with a local, hometown agent, who will recognize your name if you have to call after hours. Although the company should always be available and able to answer your call, having a local hometown agent who knows you, recognizes your name, and is willing to be helpful in your most devastating moment makes a huge difference. Always work with a local agent.
- Ask questions about what is covered and how your coverage is taken care of before you need it. Your policy should explain most of your company’s response methods, but having an agent to ask is important. Don’t hesitate to ask. These are questions you need to know.
- Verify phone numbers before you’re on the road. Be sure you have access to the company’s reporting number and that it’s in your vehicle. Generally these numbers are available on your insurance card, but not always. Ask what number you call in the event of an emergency, and be sure that number is available to you. (I plugged this into my cell phone.)
Why choose a local insurance agent?
There are so many benefits to working with a local insurance agent, and every single problem we faced could have been remedied easily if we’d had an agent to call on our behalf. We made the choice immediately to return to working with a hometown agent, whose number would be readily available if we needed help on the road.
If you were in an accident tomorrow who would you call about insurance help?
Would your agent be available? Do you know your agent’s name?
We’ve learned to reach for the stars, and deal with business connections we don’t know, but the reality is when we know the person, we can put a real face on the business.
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