Friday, February 10, 2012

It's a Trap! Insurance Company Style

When the Missus and I became engaged I was a pauper and as such had no money.  Alas and alack, the diamond that I could afford for the engagement ring was bigger than a grain of sand, but not by much.  The Missus has been a good sport about it all these years so on our 25th anniversary we picked out  a ring that better suited her.  We got it at a place where one could negotiate and I'm not saying that I'm the world's greatest negotiator but when we were done the appraisal that they gave us on the ring was over twice the cost of what we paid.  The Missus had it insured and the person she talked with would only insure it for what we paid and not what it appraised for.  Ok.

Sometime in October the Missus realized the center diamond was gone from the ring.  Two of the prongs were broken that held the diamond.   A frantic search of the school grounds turned up nothing.  Her co-workers were horrified but the Missus was serene.  It's insured she assured them, nothing to worry about. Of course she was sad and a bit worried but knew in her heart that the insurance company would protect us and fix this toot-sweet.  Maybe a couple weeks or so and all would be well.  Try four months!

I called the insurance company.  The lady on the phone was sympathetic.  She took our information and told us she'd get back to us.   A week or so went by and nothing.  I called.  They said they'd check into our claim and call back.  A week or so went by and nothing.  I called.   This time they suggested I send the ring to them so their in house gem specialist could examine it and pick out a nice stone for it.  We'd get a replacement diamond and they'd save some money so everyone would win.  Sure I said.  (STOP RIGHT HERE!  In the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar It's a trap!  Don't ever fall for this ploy).  I sent them the ring.  A week went by and nothing.  I called.  They said they thought they had the ring and they'd be in touch.  Two weeks went by and nothing.  I called.   I talked to the go between who spoke with the shadowy gem expert.  The gem expert told the go between that in examining the remaining stones the ring was seriously under insured.  Wow I thought, I was a good negotiator!  Ok then, let's replace the stone.  Send us the appraisal I was told, so I did.  A couple weeks went by and nothing.  I called.  I was told that the stones in the ring didn't match the appraisal, not even close. And with that in mind the center (and largest stone) couldn't have be as appraised.   It may have even been one step up from beach glass. Obviously the diamond that would be procured for the ring would not be anywhere close to the value of what the ring was insured for.  And, just what kind of game was I playing anyway?   I was almost speechless.  We have been with this well known military orientated non profit insurance company for over three decades.   They said they would get back with me on what they were willing to do.   A week went by and nothing.  

That did it.  I  called up and chewed them out but good.  I started by telling them just who I was.  I then moved into the fact that I had attempted to help out the company by being a good Joe and sending them the ring.  I pointed out that we could've never sent the ring to them and they would have had to gone with the appraisal.  I finished by asking what makes them think that their expert was any more correct than my expert?   I post scripted with the reminder that a couple calls ago they told me the ring was under insured and now it is undervalued?   There was a moment's silence and the agent said that she would cut me a check for the full insured value of the ring.  Then, get this, she told me that I could never find a diamond for the ring for the amount that she was sending me even at the low grade that they claimed that the diamond was.  And, she was sending a message to someone that the ring shouldn't be insured any more by them. 

I kept my cool, thanked her, hung up, and sent a ballistic email to their customer service section.

A couple weeks later we went to a couple jewelry stores, found the grade of diamond that was in the ring to begin with and the same size, negotiated a price to have it installed in the same setting and repaired, all for just about the amount of the check that they sent me.  The ring is back on the Missus' finger, looks so sparkly that I have to wear shades when I'm around it and she is happy.

I received a call from a V.P. from the insurance company several days after we received the check apologizing for how the whole thing was handled.  I wasn't there but the Missus was and she was charmed by him and said it was all good.  Oh, and they are more than happy to insure the ring for the new appraised value.

Moral of the story?  Don't be a chump with your insurance company no matter how long you've been with them.  Remember that they aren't working for you, they are working for them.  It was a sad lesson for me to learn after all of these years.

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