Another Quote of the Day – USAA Insurance claim representative

“We don’t make decisions based on common sense” – USAA Insurance claims representative, total loss department. That was pretty obvious by the time he said it. I told him it was going to be a quote of the day.

In June an old man pulled right in front of us in his pickup, from a cross road on our right, while we were at speed in our pickup on highway 26 in central Washington State. WHAM! My 15 year old daughter was driving on her learner’s permit. She could not have done anything to prevent a hard hit, but I think she saved that old man’s life.

You never really know what you’ll do in a situation like that, but I tell myself not to swerve for deer or anything else unless there is a real need to. Hit the damn deer and stay on the road, or hit that car in front of you and avoid a head-on, if it’s a choice between the two. I’ve seen it go very badly when people swerve. She swerved. If she hadn’t, if she’d gone in a straight line, that old man would have been squashed like a melon, I think. As it was we hit corner to corner instead of hitting him in his driver’s door.

I was telling the claims rep that since I had the trans rebuilt and replaced the engine, the hubs, the breaks, etc., that 309K odo reading meant very little, that the newer and shinier pickup I replaced it with actually has “Less useful life left in it, it cost me more than twice what I’m being offered for the totaled truck, and that I shouldn’t have to remind anyone that the injured party (I) should be made whole, within reason, to the fullest extend possible, and we’re not even talking about our ruined vacation.”
“Where did you get that verbiage?” He asked in reply.
“What do you mean?”
“Where did you get that verbiage?” He repeated. Well how do you answer that question? He seems to think that I’m reading from some book, or repeating someone else’s words, which I wasn’t. So rather than argue about that;
“It’s common sense” I told him. That’s when he came out with the money quote.

Yeah, so I’m out thousands of dollars after I take their settlement. Insurance markets, and the whole set of industries surrounding them, like the towing business and the body repair business, medical care, et al, are completely distorted. In a proper world it would be between me and the offending party, and if things fell apart there it would be in the courts, and the insurance company’s role would be to write a check afterwards (or up to the value of the policy). But this is the messed up world of scammers, politicians (but I repeat myself) and Progressives (and again I repeat myself) and so the party writing the check is the same one determining the value of the loss.

I guess that what we were supposed to do, rather than tell the EMTs at the scene that we were all OK and happy to be alive, if a little bruised, and go against their advice to take a ride in and get checked out by doctors, was instead to complain about pain, act all messed up an carry on and so forth, get some prescriptions and braces and all that, like most people, and scam the insurance company for all that pain and suffereing, woe-is-me-I-have-to-take-three-weeks-off-work-and-I-might-have-to-file-for-disability crap. But we didn’t, and won’t.


15 thoughts on “Another Quote of the Day – USAA Insurance claim representative

  1. ALWAYS get checked out. Adrenaline can easily mask serious injuries. Get checked out. Get checked out. Get checked out. Yeah, you’re probably fine. Go anyway. At the very least you establish a medical paperwork trail for what comes later.
    I have had patients refuse transport, only to call us a few hours later once the Adrenaline wore off and the swelling set in and they found themselves unable to move because they bruised something on their C-Spine. Neither the EMTs (yet) nor you have X-ray vision.
    I am *NOT* saying you pull a scam, or a “whip-cash” (seen my fair share of those too). I’m saying medically, you need to get checked out. I’m also saying that it establishes a paperwork trail that can be used to justify things that reveal themselves later.
    When I was on Active Duty I didn’t get something checked out. I had plenty of opportunity to, but I didn’t. I found out after I got out that it was something more serious. I know this is something serous from my service time, but I have no paperwork to prove it. If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen. You have a narrow window to document these sorts of things. The only way to to document the medical issues is to get check out.
    Get checked out. Get checked out. Get checked out. It’s probably nothing. But if it isn’t, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

    • Good advice I’m sure. I can’t really say why, or make a convincing argument to justify my/our decision. I had time to calm down the daughter and wife, we took inventory, so to speak, we discussed how daughter did the right thing, how fortunate we were… We even had a snack and some water from our stores in the truck, watered the dog, spoke with witnesses and so on. This was out in the hinterlands, so sheriff and EMT response took quite a while, giving us a lot of time to work things through in a calm situation. I know that common wisdom says we should have gone in, but it was one of those decisions made based only on the particulars.

      My first though, after the WHAM! and after talking to daughter was to go over and tell dumb son of a bitch that stop signs have a perfectly good reason for being there, but that only lasted until I got my feet on the pavement, or about 15 seconds. What little adrenaline had time to enter the blood between “oh shit” and “we’re all alive” dissipated very quickly. My daughter was hysterical, and understandably, but only for half a minute or so, after which I had my arms around her, smiling, telling her she did exactly the right thing and that we were very fortunate and this was nothing but an inconvenience from here out. We had time to chat with witnesses who had stopped to help. It wasn’t anything like the hell fest that might occur when there are massive injuries and on-going threats, fire, and the like. It was, “oh shit, bang, screech (I though we were going over, but we stayed upright) and…wow, we’re all OK”.

    • I called a lawyer, who doesn’t return my call. I spoke with my own insurance company (local people) about this, because I’ve had a decades long relationship with them and because they have extensive experience in such matters, and their response, in a nutshell, was “Meh”.

      The very concept, which I find is the only reasonable one, that sale values based on sales histories is one thing, while replacement value based on equivivalent, remaining mechanical useful life is quite a different matter, is either foreign to, or known and rejected by, the whole spectrum of the auto and auto insurance industries. No one seems to think on those terms, except in the classic car market where there is a numerical condition scale from one to five.

      Yet there are two kinds of driver, non classic vehicles; those that are for sale and those that are being kept and maintained for long term use. Selling a vehicle is what you do INSTEAD of fixing it up to optimum condition for use as a primary family vehicle (a primary family vehicle like mine). They pay an amount based on the theory that you had yours up for sale right before the crash. That’s what the book values reflect because they reflect only those cars being sold. The kind of vehicle I had is practically never for sale, hence there is no “book” value on it. That’s a lot of words, but it’s very simple.

    • His. We’re the injured party. I talked to my people just for their advice.

      • Is it worth talking to a lawyer? Or getting your insurance company to talk to theirs? The insured is legally liable for exactly 100% of the cost of the loss he inflicted on you.

        • Yeah, but who determines that cost and by what measure? Admittedly there is room for subjectivity. Anyway it’s a done deal. I loose, but they did reimburse my costs for a rental and for towing, because those are hard numbers on receipts.

  2. Sorry to hear there was an accident, glad you’re all OK.
    I’ve been in several accidents – never my fault. Had two cars “totaled” around me (both Geo Metros, both times taking the dogs to the park in perfect weather and driving conditions), didn’t need anything medical or chiropractic. Dogs were not even hurt.
    OTOH, I had one minor fender-bender at an odd angle with modest damage that I drove home from, but needed three months of regular chiropractic.
    Particulars matter.

    • The particulars do indeed matter. As a kid I once just tipped my bike over. Very low energy mistake, but very bloddy, and it took many years for the scar to dissipate. On another occasion, when I was in my teens and much stronger, I was pedaling flat out on my three- speed in high gear as fast as I ever could go, powered by the teeth clenching fury and energy of youth, and due to a momentary misunderstanding I broadsided another, smaller kid on his bike at full speed, no reaction time to slow down. WHAM! I went over the handlebars, ass over tit, marvelously high through the air and straight into the pavement like a rag doll, the other kids’s bike shot out from under him, enormous KE dissipation (for a bicycle crash) and we were both totally unscathed. No one ever wore helmets or pads back then either. You would have thought we’d both be crippled from it.

  3. Lyle,
    Go to Clark Howards web site (he is a consumer advocate). There are some actions you can take that may very well help you increase the settlement.

  4. Everything that is wrong with the world today was caused by lawyers, insurance companies and politicians. Not necessarily in that order.

    • I wouldn’t go so far as to say everything, but much of it.
      The problem being, of course, that far to often the exact same people are involved in all three things, sometimes even at the same time (e.g., ObamaCare).

  5. Really hard to control the urge to dodge an impending collision. I suspect we are hardwired to react like that, without sufficient time to consciously override it.

    I’ve worked in various auto fields off and on in my life, and my father spent 60+ years in autobody, and I have never heard of an auto insurance company making someone whole from an accident. There are always losses they won’t cover. Even small claims court judges will screw you over, even when they supposedly rule in your favor. I sometimes wonder if all of this sort of thing might be a factor in why when you get a jury involved, they go overboard in awarding money to victims.

    • Swerve – yes, automatic reactions can be bad. In one of my accidents, I had just enough time to think. I was driving down a straight road, broad daylight, headlights on. A line of heavy oncoming traffic, including a bus. Suddenly one of the oncoming cars makes a left turn right in front of me, trying to get into a parking lot to my right in a hurry, so she could go with a group headed to a baseball game. If I swerved left, I cross the yellow line and went head-on into an oncoming bus. If I swerve right, I just go into the line of the other drivers direction and hit as a weird angle. I just stood on the brake and braced myself, drove straight and hit her in her front passenger side wheel and quarter panel. as she was in the middle of my lane.
      Like I said, JUST enough time to not try to avoid it.
      As to insurance losses – yes, pretty much, been there WAY to many times. OTOH, if our health insurance was more like auto insurance, it’d likely be a lot cheaper, and people would pay more attention to taking care of their bodies.

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