I’m an auto claims adjuster, for those of you who didn’t know. Here’s how one claim went for me today. Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
I read the loss description of the new claim. “Insured Jeanne Randall drove wrong way over stopper strip in rental car lot, damaged rental car tire.”
I look at the names of the insureds on the policy: Jason and Barbara Rosemer of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There is no Jeanne Randall on the policy. Maybe a relative?
I don’t handle Pennsylvania. I do, however, handle Michigan, where the accident occurred, so the claim does belong to me. However, it has been open for three days with absolutely no work done on it by the previous adjuster, who should NOT have received it because he DOES handle Pennsylvania, but not Michigan. He should have reassigned it on Monday. The claim is already three days old with no work done.
I look at the “relationships” established in our software. The driver is listed as Barbara Rosemer, not Jeanne Randall. The e-mail address: Aaronandjeanne at westcoast dot net. The cell phone number? I recognize the area code: Seattle.
Maybe Jeanne Randall was the name of the person who reported the claim? Someone from the rental company’s damage recovery unit? The insured’s agent? No idea.
I try to contact the customer service rep who entered the claim. No response.
I contact the original (Pennsylvania-based) adjuster. I explain that I know that in most states, rental cars are covered under Part D of a policy, where they are treated just like your own car, but in some states (like Minnesota and New York, for example), damage to rentals you take out will be paid as if you HIT them while driving your OWN car — so no deductibles apply. Minnesota law grants it to anyone renting in Minnesota; New York law grants it to anyone with a New York policy, regardless of where they’re renting. I explain that I know the Michigan laws, but I need to know about the Pennsylvania laws.
He doesn’t know.
I call the damage recovery unit of the rental company. They had no idea that there was a claim set up; they didn’t even have our insured’s insurance information, which seems to be a very rare and very stupid oversight on their part. They confirm that the rental and the damage occurred in Michigan, but they state that the driver was definitely Jeanne Randall and she is from Seattle, Washington. They have no idea who Jason and Barbara Rosemer are.
It occurs to me that this claim was probably filed on the wrong policy. I run a search for a Jeanne Randall insured with us in Seattle. I find six. None of them have policy numbers anywhere close to Jason and Barbara Rosemer’s. I run a reverse search on the cell phone number in our client files. It has never been entered into our files before.
I call Jeanne Randall in Seattle, and I leave a message asking for a callback with her policy number. I go to lunch.
Later, I have a voicemail from Jeanne, who confirms that she called in the claim, and who provides me with her policy number. The policies have one letter and seven numbers. Not a single character is the same between the two policies. I look to see if any other claims were filed for Jason and Barbara Roberson, to see if maybe this is how the customer service rep found their policy. Nothing. It’s like the customer service rep picked a policy at random.
I enter the part of the software that allows me to make corrections to a claim, including putting in the correct policy number. I update the policy number. I update the agency code. I update the underwriting office. I update the occurrence number, which requires opening multiple other claims to check the historical record of this customer who has been with us since the 1980s. I correct the driver relationships, the owner relationships, the vehicle details, and a few other things on the file so that it is set up correctly. I set a reserve in preparation for payment.
I contact an adjuster I know who handles Washington. He confirms that Washington laws and Michigan laws are in sync on this one, and the claim will be handled under our insured’s Collision coverage, which has a $250 deductible.
I call the damage recovery unit again, this time confident that I have the right information. It matches theirs. I provide them with my name. I provide them with my phone number. I provide them with my fax number. I provide them with my mailing address. I provide them with my e-mail address. I provide them with my claim number. I ask if there is any other information they need. I ask if they have an estimate on file yet.
They say no. They say wait. They say yes. It has been sent for subrogation (the process by which they recover money from us). No, it hasn’t. Wait. Let me look again. May I put you on hold?
I wait on hold.
They come back laughing. They are not going to send it to subrogation. They are writing off the damage. It was only $79.95. It’s not worth their time to collect on damage under $100.
I hang up. I zero out the reserve, since there will be no payment. I call the customer and leave a message to let her know that I am closing her claim, because her rental company has told me that they are not going to pursue recovery for the damages. I warn her that if they change their mind, her damages are under her deductible and she will have to pay out of pocket. I leave my phone number for any other questions.
This has taken, all told, about forty-five minutes of my day. The good news is that I close the claim and I never have to see it again. The bad news is, I have seven other new claims, twenty e-mails, a dozen voice mails, twenty overdue follow-ups, twenty-two currently-due follow-ups, and eleven other various electronic notices of contacts that I still need to follow up on.