Auto Insurance Claims/COLLISION
Hello. I recently purchased auto insc. through State Farm for my 2002 Land Rover. I had been with them for years, the last time being in late 2010. I did not have a policy with them from then until this past November, 2012. (did not need auto insc.) I always been very pleased with State Farm, their rates were fantastic in Maryland & their customer service was excellent. With that being said, when I was in need of auto insc. again, I called them. I am now living in WV. I asked the agent to pull uP my policy info from 2010 & explained that when I left them that year, I was told that as long as I was re-insured within 3 yrs., they would simply pick back uP as a continuing customer even though there was a gap. That way I wouldn't need to "start over" and pay the additional fees etc., and I would maintain any courtesy discounts that I had already incrued throughout the period of time I had been insured by them.
I also told the new agent that I wanted exactly the same coverage that I had on my last policy, minus the rental car. She gave me the quote, and I was fine with it, although was surprised how much higher it was then when I lived in MD. I asked her why there was such an increase and she said, "You did want FULL COVERAGE", again I agreed and figured the rates are always different from state to state. I was comfortable leaving there knowing I had the best coverage I could get, paid for 3 months and went on my merry way.
Unfortunately 2 mos. later, I was in an accident where I slid on ice & snow and totaled the vehicle I had just paid CASH for and had insured w~State farm as I just explained. After the accident & I was home from the hospital, I called my agent to discuss having their people send someone over to look at my vehicle to evaluate whether or not it could be fixed or if they were going to call it a total loss. The owner of the company this time said she would look into and call me back. A little while later, I got a call from her saying, "Ms. Neukam, you did not carry collision on your policy!!" I her she definitely needed to check into this and that there clearly was a glitch on their end, that I asked to be quoted on such & agreed to the price, and explained that I would NEVER not carry collision after paying almost $7,000 CASH for my vehicle! With that, she said "I'm sorry, but it was not written in on your policy" and long story short, said that there was nothing she could do about it. After becoming physically ill, and extremely upset with them, I called the CLAIMS dept. and spoke to a higher up to explain that I had clearly asked for collision, and never questioned it because of the very high premium and because I was pretty specific about requesting the same coverage I had the last time I had a policy instated with them. AGAIN, I was told it was my problem that I didn't verify that they provided me with the coverage I requested?? And had the nerve to say it was my word against the agents, and of course after he spoke to her, of course said I told her adding collision was too expensive and not to add it, which was 100% not true at all. I asked for a quote on exactly the same policy I had in 2010, which I knew carried collision, and left their with 'FULL COVERAGE' according to the agent. I never received a policy booklet and assumed the "contract" I signed was what I asked for. The terminology meant nothing to me as I am not educated on it!! My step-mom was with me the entire time and too was under the "assumption" I was paying for FULL COVERAGE (minus rental car) and would never have questioned not having collision as I had requested. I have contacted the Insurance commissioner for WV who said I have a case against them provided all I am saying pans out after their investigation. I am just sick about all of this, cannot believe I basically flushed $7 grand down the drain and have been treated this way by who I thought were a very good & reliable company!! Any thoughts or experience on this type of thing?? I don't know if I will ever recover from this awful mess they have caused me!
What a sad tale!
Unfortunately, however, I don't see where there is anything you can do to remedy the situation. I have asked many people, "what do you suppose FULL COVERAGE is?" The definition is really whatever one wants it to be. There is no such "insurance term" as "full coverage" if for no other reason than it is too vague.
For example, would it mean full coverage in terms of what the state requires? Or does it mean full coverage in terms of what the agent thinks? Or does it mean full coverage in terms of what the applicant thinks it is. Someone else might think of full coverage as full coverage for liability.
Should the agent have explained all of this to you? Absolutely yes. Should she have pulled up your previous policy to explain item by item what you had and wanted to extend? Absolutely. Did the agent act negligently? Perhaps. The problem is, it is your word against the agent's.
Agents must carry a type of insurance called E&O - Errors and Omissions. Simply put, as the name implies, it is designed to cover the agent if he or she provides inadequate or erroneous work. This could be the case here, but it might be very difficult for you to prove. I would suggest that you would need to obtain a legal opinion before you would want to even consider filing an E&O claim.
And there is another problem, unfortunately. You say the company never sent you a policy? That does seem very hard to believe. Why? Did you move? Did you agree to have access to the policy only online?
Equally as important, clearly you would have received a Declarations Page. A "dec page" is a document that insurance carriers must provide. It might have been sent to you with a billing. What it provides is a precise breakdown of your coverage, to include every coverage that you purchased and for how much. It also verifies your policy inception and expiration dates. You may not be aware of it, but you do have a dec page. And clearly it would show that you did not have Collision.
The problem for you is that the company would argue that you were provided with the information and you did not act on it. They would say that is an omission on your part. And it pretty much takes everything out of your counter argument.
All I can say is that you must read all documents that pertain to any type of insurance coverage you have. And as I always say to my readers, you are paying premiums for benefits, you must be absolutely certain that you know exactly what you are paying for! And, if you do not understand what the coverages are, do your homework. You owe it to yourself!
Sorry for more bad news.