Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


When a Car Insurance company leaves a bad taste in your mouth

Monday 2 March 2009

It is a tad unfortunate that in the past couple of weeks I've had to experience the way in which one of the players in the car insurance industry treats its customers. I haven't lost a single demerit point since well into last century and consider myself a pretty safe driver. So a couple of weeks ago I was stationary behind a car at a pedestrian crossing when a car hit me from behind and forced me into the car in front. It's just a car and no one was hurt (just a tad shaken) so that's the main thing. All drivers calmly exchanged details, there was no shouting or yelling, all very civil really. It's just a pity that the insurance companies haven't treated their customers with the same level of respect...

I'm self employed.  I earn an income by going around to see clients and helping them answer some of their pressing and emerging issues, understanding what their needs are and researching the world to come up with ideas and initiatives that can help them, or putting them in contact with others who are better placed to help them. When I need my car, I need my car.  I ride to work some days, catch the train and tram on others and when I need to get from place to place at the desire of a client or potential clients, the car is often the only flexible option available to me.

It turns out that the person who ran into the back of me also uses the same Insurance company as I do so you'd think things would have gone pretty smoothly.

You'd be wrong.  To say that I have been bounced around and treated with contempt would be an understatement.  It all started well enough. The person who answered my initial query arranged for the tow truck to pick the car up and said I'd have a specific case manager assigned to the repair.  The car went to the Insurance company's premises for assessment but they decided it was a job too complex for them so sent it off to one of the specialist repairers nearby. I never heard from the so called case-manager but did speak to the case manager of the person who ran into my car and told them I needed a hire car.

They said I needed to provide a couple of quotes and 'apply' to get approval.  Mind you, their client was at fault and I was without a car so I asked why I needed to do that especially as their client had already admitted liability?  I also was told that I needed to tell them precisely how long I needed the hire car for and they seemed a bit taken back when I said that I wasn't the expert and had no idea how long the car was off the road for.

I was advised to ring the repairer direct to get some more information, which I did and was told the car would take 10 days.  I rang my insurer back.  I was then told that I couldn't get approval until the other driver (their client) had paid their excess.  I asked them 'what has you client's commitments got to do with my loss of my car - why can't you approve it?'  And was told that this is just what has to happen.  So I asked - when will I know when your client has paid their excess? and of course, their case manager didn't know.

The end result is that two potential client visits have been missed because my insurance company thinks the best way to treat people is to get them to jump through hoops.  My car went from the Insurer to a specialist repair shop.  I rang about 6 days later to see how it was coming along and told that they'd gotten too busy to do it and had sent it to another of their shops in the outer south east.  So I was advised to ring them direct, which I did and was told that the car would be ready by Tuesday next week (today).  So I ring today to see what time the car would be delivered back to me and have been told that the car is now going off to a dealership to get something else done to it and maybe it would be ready tomorrow.  Maybe.

And on not ONE occasion has my so called 'case manager' made contact with me.  I asked again about a hire car and this time the driver at fault's case manager told me in essence 'bad luck - you have to tell us how long you want the hire car for and we'll consider whether or not we'll approve it just like we told you a week or so ago'.  When I again expressed my concern with the fact that I can't provide them with information on length of time given that the car is being bounced around from shop to shop, I was told that I'd just have to provide them with what I know and if it wasn't long enough I'd have to reapply.

In other words, get bounced around all over again.  I have no doubt this is a deliberate and orchestrated process they use to try and avoid paying for hire car costs when their drivers are at fault.

And given that one of the recent posted Events on this website discussed the soon to be completed book 'Recession Proof Marketing - how to survive and thrive in a recession' you can rest assured that 'treating customers with contempt' is NOT one of the key ways to maximise your chances of keeping customers during an economic downturn.

Still it does give me another story of inadequate and disgraceful 'marketing' I could add to the book.  I'd rather they just get it fixed properly as promised.  I do hope but sense, that this will not be the last of the story with this repair

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