Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grand Theft Auto, days 1-15

Monday the 10th through Monday the 24th of August 2009

The morning after my car was stolen, Progressive called and asked me more of those same questions, so that they could be really, really certain that my car had not been taken by a jilted lover or alimony-grabbing baby momma.  Since I bought my insurance from Progressive Direct and not an agent, I was paired up with a random local claims agent.  She was in charge of coordinating with the police, making sure that I was telling the truth, verifying my claim, and then eventually, deciding how much of a settlement the company should offer.  She explained that the process would take about two weeks if my car wasn't found by the police—usually claims were resolved in a couple days, but in the case of a missing vehicle it would take longer.  She called Jason while I was at work to verify my story, looked up information about my car based on the VIN, and tried to get surveillance video from the parking lot.  Beyond that, I don't think there was really any more investigation for her to do.  And, there wasn't much else for me to do, except wait.

I spent a couple hours Monday night filling out paperwork.  Every paper I filled out reminded me that insurance fraud was a felony, and that any error or missed space in filling out the paperwork could mean that my claim would be rejected.  (Not wanting to miss any spaces, I ended up writing my own full name and address a good twenty times or so on the forms.)  They wanted to know what items I had in the car, any damage to the car or scratches on the paint, how long I've lived at my current address, my exact annual salary, whether or not I bought floor mats from the dealer, if I'd ever offered to sell the car to anyone else, and a bevy of other questions in the tiniest of print.  In addition, they asked for how much I was claiming, which I hadn't expected for another week or two.  I came up with the best estimate I could and put that down—$20,759.  (I don't recall where that number came from; I think that was the dealer cost of a brand new 2008 Civic or something.)  It's more than I expected to get, but I figured it would be much worse to underestimate at this point.

The next day, on Tuesday, I had to mail out all of those forms, but first, I had to get them witnessed and notarized.  The credit union I go to luckily just opened up a branch on the Microsoft campus a few months prior, so we were able to get that done there.  That took quite a long time; the notary had to approve my documents and watch me sign, take records and notes, and all sorts of things beyond simply checking my ID and stamping them that I didn't really expect.  I doubt that any insurance company would have really made this process much easier, but all of this notarization and scary-form-filling-out really made me feel like the insurance company's enemy, not their customer, and overall left me feeling very drained.

After getting all that sent off, there wasn't much contact with the agent.  She called to let me know when she got my forms, and asked if I'd heard anything from the police, which I hadn't.  More waiting.  By the end of that week I figured that the statistical chances of getting a stolen Honda Civic back were exceptionally low, and I had given up on ever seeing my car again.  I started to plan out what replacement cars I was going to test drive.  Another Honda Civic was a possibility, but now I have a little higher budget than a year ago when I bought the Civic, and I also have a much better idea of what sorts of features I want in a car.  (My previous car was a $700 Isuzu I-Mark, which while fairly reliable and pleasant for such a low price, did not really put me in a position to make any demands from a future car.)  Not to mention, of course, perspective on just how much it sucks to have a car stolen.

No comments: