The State Farm Thing

On Friday night I was driving on the freeway, with my daughter in the passenger seat, in stop and go traffic. The vehicles in front of me stopped. I stopped. The driver behind me didn’t stop. Well, he did stop, but he did it by running into us.

I was driving a compact SUV (2006 Ford Escape Hybrid). He was driving a midsize SUV (2006 Nissan Pathfinder).

He jumped out of his car almost immediately, stopped to pick up a hunk of his car and came up to my window. I was feeling a bit shaken and scattered, and was concerned about my daughter, so it took me a bit of fumbling to get the window down. The first thing he wanted to know is if we were okay. It took me longer to ask the same question of him, and while his immediately hopping out of his vehicle was a good indication, and my distraction over my upset daughter played a part, I am not proud that it wasn’t the first thing I wanted to know from him.

We agreed to pull over before exchanging information. He gathered some more bits from his car off of the freeway. I put on my signal and had to wait and wait for enough of a break in traffic to move over two lanes and pull up onto an island dividing the long exit lane from the freeway. He followed me over. A police officer stopped to see if we needed an ambulance. We said we did not. The officer said he was on his way to a call so he could not fill out a report, but he would have a trooper come. It was raining, so began to exchange information inside the Pathfinder. We traded insurance cards. We were both with State Farm, but with different agents. I began to type his information into my phone. He was writing mine on a scrap of paper. Then a man from FIRST knocked on the window. He wanted to know how much longer we would be and if the cars were drivable. I said mine was. The driver of the Pathfinder said he didn’t think his could go very far. FIRST asked if we needed an ambulance and again we said no. He asked us to exit the freeway and exchange information in a hotel parking lot toward the top of the ramp. The exit lane was moving along at a good clip, and he said he would block traffic when we were ready to go. We gathered up our own insurance cards, and agreed to meet up in the parking lot.

FIRST blocked traffic and then followed us to the parking lot. The drive to the parking lot convinced the driver of the Pathfinder that his vehicle was not really drivable, and FIRST called a tow truck for him. We again exchanged cards. He had lost the scrap of paper and needed to start all over again. I double checked the information I had put in my phone, and took a photo of his insurance card. He made some comment about his lack of technology. We traded drivers licenses next and I typed in that information and took a photo of it too. I also took a photo of his license plate.

Our condition was not serious enough that it warranted Emergency Room care. We attempted to go to Urgent Care on Friday night, but everywhere was closed. I did email my State Farm office on Friday night and provided them with the information and the photos that I took. They were amused by the photos, since they were “not necessary” but I’d rather have that info on a photo, in case I copied down something incorrectly.

On Saturday we spent the first part of the day in Urgent Care. Then we got a prescription filled, and then I went to bed. Saturday and Sunday was mainly about sleeping and resting. State Farm called and left me a message on Saturday. This was based on the other driver’s claim. I did not take or return the call as I was not feeling well enough.

On Monday, I did take a call from State Farm. She was was following up on the Saturday message. The claim from his side already had a claim number and they were accepting all responsibility on the claim, so I just needed to decide where I wanted to have my car repair work done. I got information on how to look up their preferred shops, as that would be easiest for securing payment of the repairs, and told her I would call her back with my choice, and got her contact information.

I also spoke to my insurance agent’s office on Monday. They confirmed that they would be handling the medical portion of the claim.

Most of Monday was still spent sleeping.

On Tuesday I selected a conveniently located body shop from the list and called and left a message about my choice for the State Farm person who was handling the auto claim. After close of business for the insurance company on Tuesday, the body shop called and told me that they had received an assignment from State Farm to give an estimate on the repair work and wanted to let me know when I could bring in my 2005 Toyota Prius.

Umm…

Okay. We do own a 2005 Toyota Prius, which is also insured by State Farm. This was annoying and a bit strange, but it seemed within the realm of a clerical error. I told the body shop that I would contact the insurance company and they said they would be in touch when they had the correct assignment from them.

On Wednesday morning I called the woman who was assigned our claim and spoke to her in person. I explained that the body shop called and they had the wrong car down as authorized for repairs. She was surprised and asked which car it was, and I told her it was the other car on the policy, the Ford Escape. She said that she would get it straightened out at the body shop.

Soon after, another woman called from State Farm, about the medical claim. She wanted to go over all the information of what my coverage was and assure me that everything would be handled.

Thirty minutes after that, yet another call came in from State Farm. Like everybody else, this woman’s words were polite, however her tone and manner were different. She began by asking about my injuries. I gave her a surface answer and then interrupted to tell her that somebody had already spoken to me today to give me all the details on the injury claim. She said that was fine, she was calling about the auto claim. (Okay… then why ask about the injuries?) She then begins asking about the accident, wanting a description of events. This conversation is NOTHING like any of the other conversations have been. This is probing and adversarial in tone. I describe the events to her, and she is asking for details like how many lanes there were and exactly which lane we were in.

Then she gets to asking what car I was driving. I tell her. Then she wants to know if the Toyota Prius was involved in an accident on the same day. I assure her it was not. She tells me that I can file another claim for my Ford Escape, but that they would not be covering that without an investigation. She the begins to go into details on how I need to get my car inspected. What for, I want to know, to prove that I am not lying about what car I am driving? She assures me that she did not say I was lying, she is just saying that there is “a dispute of the facts”.

Right.

I ask her who is disputing the facts, and she tells me the other driver is, and I tell her that I don’t believe her. I tell her there is no way that the other driver told anybody that he hit a Toyota Prius. That makes no sense, how could he just happen to claim he hit a different car that I happen to own. It is obviously some kind of clerical error in pulling up the policy. She says, that she was told by the claim adjuster that there is a dispute in facts and they have opened an investigation. She begins to tell me about how to get my vehicles inspected.

I explained to her that I would not be getting my vehicles inspected because I challenge the very notion that there is an actual dispute of facts. I tell her to speak to the other driver.

We go around and around and eventually we hang up, and I am just shaking with anger. I am in pain, I am on medication, and now the insurance company that I have been insured by for over 20 years. Yes, I’ve had my auto insurance with them for more than 20 years, and they have my home owners insurance too, and in that time I filed one single claim when somebody hit my car in a parking lot and didn’t leave a note (I am not 100% sure I actually filed, I might have been too worried about my rates going up, and that was at least 15 years ago and I just can’t remember what I decided to do). Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there, my ass.

She calls back more than an hour later and tells me that she has spoken to the other driver and “NOW he says that the other car was a Ford Escape.”

Sure. NOW he says that, indicating that BEFORE he was saying a Prius and that it simply was not State Farms fault.

I say bullshit.

And here is the thing.

There are two ways that the wrong car ended up in the system, and neither was by their other driver saying that he hit a Toyota Prius.

Either:
A) because we share the same company, it pulled up all of our details when they typed in our insurance info, and a slip of the mouse or whatever, managed to select the wrong car – and then never went over the info with the driver in a way that included mentioning the type car because it was such a straight forward case.
B) he gave them the wrong policy number because I gave him the wrong card causing them to pull up the wrong car and then never went over the info with the driver in a way that included mentioning the type of car because it was such a straight forward case

Now, I agree that B is a possibility. While I am 100% certain that I gave him the correct card the first time I handed him the card. I absolutely checked to make sure I did. He managed to lose that info and had to start from scratch when we moved to the hotel parking lot. We were both flustered and time number two I was just handing him back the card, and I probably didn’t really look at it again first. So, I could have given him the card for the other car. He was coming to realize how screwed up his car was and he might not have thought about the fact the car listed on it was the wrong type of vehicle. We were two people who were stressed after just being involved in an accident. That is possible.

What pisses me off is that as soon as this problem appears where they have it assigned to one car, and I say it is another, they opened an investigation against me and started treating me as an adversary. That was their first step. A quick phone call to the other driver to just say, “Hey, by the way, did you rear end a car, or an SUV?” would have resolved it right away.

The claim representative that I called back about the problem didn’t tell me she was going to need to check with the other driver. She didn’t tell me that there was any problem at all. She told me she would fix it with the body shop. Then she went and called the investigation department so they could start questioning me in depth about an accident that wasn’t even my fault.

I also admit that it might be she was only following procedure, and if that is the case I am not one tiny bit less pissed off at State Farm, because then their official procedure sucks.

I am not with a different insurance company, hoping to screw State Farm. I am in a state with NO Fault Personal Injury, so I can’t sue their other customer for pain and suffering. I am a State Farm customer too. I don’t care who first filed the claim, they should be treating each of us as covered and cared for customers. They make commercials claiming personal service and that it is about more than just a 20 page obnoxious full of fine print and loopholes policy. They claim it is a company that cares, so how about they make THAT their policy? Because a HUMAN looking at the situation, and treating both parties in the accident as valued customers of State Farm, would have thought that a clerical or some other mix up was a more likely explanation than insurance fraud. Seriously, they can see my record, because I am their customer too. Yet, their first reaction was to assume a person who had been paying them for 20 years without filing any suspicious claims was suddenly going to try to work some bizarre scam by which I substitute a compact SUV that is less likely to have been badly damaged and in which the occupants are less likely to sustain serious injury when being hit by a midsize SUV for the compact car which got listed by the computer as being in the accident.

They just opened an investigation against me, looking at me for insurance fraud while I was trying to recover physically and mentally from being in an accident. An accident that wasn’t my fault. An accident that their other policy holder had already accepted full responsibility for.

I’m pissed. Also, I’m still in pain. Also, my daughter is still in pain, more pain than me actually. Guess what upsets me even more than me being in pain?

So yeah, I am just in an all around bad mood. There has been a lot of shaking and stress and crying this week. I am so tired and so far behind on everything I was supposed to get done this week, and I still need to keep dealing with getting the car repaired, and with finding us a doctor if we are not better by Monday.

Oh yeah, and I can’t sleep properly and I’m having nightmares.

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