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State Farm Insurance is fucking worthless

After talking to a bunch of Seattle auto detailers, I decided the cost of fixing the water and mold damage to my car is going to be more than my deductible, so I filed an official claim with State Farm. I stressed that I do not know how the water got in my car – flood, rain, vandalism, who knows – and that I wanted an agent to come look at it ASAP before my problem got worse.

I get a call back that an agent was going to inspect my car. The conversation basically went like:

Me: Sorry I missed your call, I was at work and couldn’t answer right away.
SF Rep: At work? How is our agent supposed to inspect your car if you’re at work?
Me: Wait, he’s coming right now? No one told me.
SF Rep: No, not now.
Me: Well when is he coming, tomorrow?
SF Rep: Sure, maybe.
Me: What do you mean, maybe?
SF Rep: He could come tomorrow or Friday, but if not you should call me Friday afternoon.
Me: Well I kind of need to know when he’s coming if I can’t be at work then.
SF Rep: He’ll probably come tomorrow. You can let someone else at home talk to him.
Me: I can’t… I guess I can try working from home tomorrow… Do you know what time he’ll be by?
SF Rep: I don’t know.
Me: I mean, does he work 9 to 5, or what?
SF Rep: More like 8:30 to 4 I guess.

Seriously, fucking worthless. They don’t even know when their own agents are coming to inspect my car, and I’m just expect to sit at home all day. I have a fucking job, you know. Worse he was rushing me to get off the call, and kept saying how they don’t cover gradual damage like rust and mold, and how he can’t see mold forming in my car even in a couple of weeks. I’m not so fucking slovenly that I would let mold cover everything in my car while I was driving it around, christ.

Like a good neighbor…yeah fucking right.

Thanks for all the moral support and practical advice, and sorry if you’re getting sick of these posts. They’re partly for me to vent, but mostly for me to document. Not to mention them finding out I’m an angry blogger might help my chances at getting proper costumer service.

Comments

  1. says

    “…how he can’t see mold forming in my car even in a couple of weeks”

    Ask him if he’s ever taken a microbiology course and had mold contamination ruin an agar plate even when using aseptic technique. Asshat.

  2. says

    That’s bizarre. I’ve had State Farm for years, and my local agent (who is literally right down the road from me) has been nothing but super helpful and approachable ever since I’ve been insured by them. Obviously that varies from market-to-market, but it sucks to hear how much trouble you’re having with them. Hopefully things will get resolved soon-ish.

  3. says

    I was on the verge of screaming “I’m a fucking biologist, I think I know more about mold than you do” but that’s when he rushed me off the call.

  4. Cyranothe2nd says

    Jen,

    Ask for the inspector’s contact info (just called the 1-800 # and talk to a person, not your claims adjuster) and call them directly. That’s the best way to know when he’s coming. (Sorry that you’re dealing with this bullshit, btw. State Farm sounds like the teh suck.)

  5. Shinobi says

    I’m surprised too, all of my experiences with State Farm have been good. (I am not insured by them but man do I get in a lot of car accidents.)

    I hope you are able to work it out.

  6. says

    Unfortunately it’s too late for that – the guy I was talking to rushed me off the call because he wanted to leave work. Now he’s not there. I was given this guy’s number because he was the one in charge of setting up my inspector, you think he would be able to tell me more information that “sometime.”

  7. Alt+3 says

    I had the same experience with my internet provider. They refused to narrow down the time to less than a whole work week. I ended up paying some drunk to hang out in my house for a couple days.

  8. says

    You don’t need to be a microbiologist to know that mold can grow very fast. You need only be someone who has kept a piece of fruit at room temperature and noticed that mold can grow overnight. You can read a historical plaque and find out that the Irish potato blight destroyed entire fields in mere days. You would think State Farm insurance would be a little more familiar with the properties of plants and fungi. I guess you need to just ask for different reps until you find one who eats fruit, knows history, or is just not so incompetent.

  9. Vern says

    Many insurance agencies outsource the inspections to a third party company. If this is the case they can’t really control when the inspector can get there. But you’d think they would explain this to you. It sounds like the guy you talked to was a jerk.

  10. Katalina says

    Please post pictures of the results of whatever costumer service they do end up providing you with. I’m voting for pirate.

  11. unbound says

    Sorry to hear it. The agent knows it’ll cost a lot to repair, so expect to continue the run around…I’ve filed a few claims with State Farm in the past, and I’ve always gotten a reasonable block of time, so the agent is playing around.

    You may still want to consider a lawyer.

  12. evilDoug says

    Yesterday I recommended you get a wet & dry vacuum cleaner.
    Today, I recommend you buy a really big rubber mallet. And not for the car.

  13. Ysanne says

    I’d say call them, and harass your way through to someone who can access the case and give you the number of the person who’s going to look at your car. They must know — if they have put one on the case already, that is.

  14. Laura-Ray says

    Sucks… Reminds me of my ex landlord.
    And rawr at the bullshit speak for “I’m too lazy to do my job, so I’m blaming you.” What an asshat!
    I have a friend in insurance (not with state farm, but she’s VERY familiar with a bunch of insurance stuff). I’ll talk to her and see if she has any advice.

  15. Kate says

    Wow, what an idiot! My brother is pro at dealing with people like that on the phone. His magic words are “Let me talk to your supervisor.” It actually works, but you have to be firm and somewhat bitchy. Just don’t swear at them. They can hang up on you if you do.

    He has used that tactic many times, and every time, gotten favorable results. At the very least, you might actually get to talk to someone with a little intelligence.

  16. Pteryxx says

    You’re in Seattle? State Farm was nothing but great to me when I lived there, through multiple claim incidents no less, and I’m still a customer. Try calling the main number again, or your agent… try going around this jackass claims person. Say “I’ve had an inspector assigned but this person is being really uncooperative. I need to know when to take time off work.” I bet you can find someone who’ll treat you properly.

  17. Deepsix says

    Jen, I work for a major U.S. insurance company and have been an auto adjuster for many years. I first just wanted to address a few things from your prior post.

    Contrary to popular belief, most major insurance companies are not looking for ways to deny your claim. Your policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. You agree to pay premium and they agree to provide coverage for covered losses. When you file a claim, the adjuster must determine whether there is coverage for the loss under your policy. There either is or there isn’t. There is no secret conspiracy to deny claims. Though, certainly there may be some bad insurance companies, but this is not normal practice.

    Your policy will have a section title something like “Physical Damage”. This section will also contain “Exclusions”. Some policies will specifically exclude mold. And, most policies will exclude damage resulting from “wear and tear”. What that means is if the leak was due to something such as dry rotted weather stripping, which has allowed water into the vehicle, then the cause of the loss (the weather stripping)isn’t covered by your policy and thus any resulting damages aren’t covered.

    However, the insurance company must first determine the actual cause of the leak. They can only typically do this by inspecting your vehicle. Normally, before the adjuster sets up the inspection, he or she will confirm with you the best time and location. It appears the biggest issue with your claim is poor communication. The estimator (the person who inspects the vehicle and writes the estimate) will usually call you prior to the inspection to confirm when he’ll be there and to make sure the vehicle is available. If your home isn’t the best place, then call the claims office back and reschedule for a better place, such as on campus.

    Finally, your best bet to address these issues is to speak with someone in management. I can’t stress this enough. Ask for a manager next time you speak with claims and they will address these issues much better than the claims adjuster.

    If you would like to speak with me directly, let me know and I’ll contact you by email. As a disclaimer, I’m giving my personal opinions, and not acting in a professional capacity.

  18. says

    Reminds me of my experience with my former home. The gas had inexplicably stopped working over the holidays, causing the furnace to stop functioning, which caused the house to match the sub-zero temperatures outside, which led to the pipes bursting. Then, the weather warmed up and the leaking water completely ruined the floors. My dad ordered me to be at the house and wait there to let the gas company people in to inspect what was wrong with the gas flow. Their arrival time? “Sometime within the next hour.” Well, I spent an hour in this unheated home in below-freezing temperatures and nobody showed up. So, I call and get “They’ll be there within the NEXT two hours.” Two hours and all I have to stave off frostbite is a malfunctioning electric heater and a blanket. Well, surprise surprise, the gas company didn’t show up. I call again. They will most definitely arrive within the NEXT hour. So, I wait another hour and nobody shows up. At this point, I’m suffering from the severe cold and my ride out of town is about to leave, so I lock up the house and leave to find someplace warm. A few minutes later, the gas company called me to inform me that someone arrived at the house, but couldn’t get in because nobody was there. >_<

  19. unbound says

    Unfortunately, I would beg to differ.

    Although for many basic claims, the insurance company will quickly and simply pay up; if they are looking to have to pay more, insurance companies do indeed look to deny claims using various methods. In this case, they are using delays in the hope that the insured will not pursue. Jen’s experience speaks directly to this as the insurance company was already trying to deny before even inspecting the damage.

    My wife was in a severe accident long ago caused by another person that was insured by the same carrier. Our insurance (Allstate) looked for every little way to get out of paying whatever parts of the claim they could (car was totaled) including getting to the point of going over the grocery list item by item to make sure we weren’t claiming a $.50 can of something that we actually used (seriously). I ended up hiring a lawyer (I was out of town most of the time during this) who found several things the insurance was supposed to provide by default that they wouldn’t until the lawyer pressured them.

    I’m now under State Farm myself. My two accidents under State Farm were caused by others who didn’t carry State Farm, so no issues with those claims. We had several bad years of weather resulting in damage to cars and the house. They fought the biggest claim (major hail damage to roof and two sides of the house), lost, and then proceeded to increase my deductible without my approval and not even lowering my rates. Every one of these claims was weather related and completely legitimate…heck, unlike some of my neighbors, I actually fixed everything that I filed claims for.

    There is a reason that each state has an insurance bureau and laws regarding insurance. Insurance companies don’t just try to deny claims every now and then…they try regularly enough that the states had to clamp down on them.

  20. says

    Contrary to popular belief, most major insurance companies are not looking for ways to deny your claim.

    This is a lie.

    Your policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. You agree to pay premium and they agree to provide coverage for covered losses. When you file a claim, the adjuster must determine whether there is coverage for the loss under your policy. There either is or there isn’t. There is no secret conspiracy to deny claims. Though, certainly there may be some bad insurance companies, but this is not normal practice.

    Translation: “Now, if we just imagine a perfectly spherical cow filled with an ideal gas…”

    If you would like to speak with me directly, let me know and I’ll contact you by email. As a disclaimer, I’m giving my personal opinions, and not acting in a professional capacity.

    Ha. Wow. That’s rich. That’s even worse than a quack Miranda warning. So, really, you know nothing about how insurance companies work, you admit that…but you’re a good enough authority because you’re able to imagine a perfectly spherical insurance company that somehow is not going to dance around the letter of the contract while trying to get out of having to give up precious profit margin.

    I suppose your next act will be to explain to us how public healthcare is evil and horrible and always worse than private healthcare.

  21. neonsequitur says

    Something doesn’t seem right here. You should be dealing directly with someone at a local State Farm office, not some idiot in a call center.

    This is one reason I’ve stuck with Allstate for 20+ years. They have a company policy about having lots of local offices, and everywhere I’ve lived (I’ve moved every couple of years) there’s been an Allstate office within a few miles, if not a few blocks, of my front door. I make it a priority to contact my local agent shortly after moving in, and keep in touch every month by dropping off my check at their office in person.

    I usually get pretty good service that way.

    For what it’s worth, here are State Farm’s search results for local agents in your area. (If I knew the area better, I’d narrow this down a bit more!) Hope you can find a real person to talk to.

    http://www.statefarm.com/agent/results.xhtml?zipCode=98195&bank=N&mutualFunds=N&annuities=N&moLanguages=&locale=en-US

  22. nemothederv says

    Honestly, who has time for you lady. We’re a business out to make money and our product is required by law. Just keep sending the checks and shut up.

    Sincerely,
    Your friendly State Farm Representitive

  23. Morgan says

    GAH, this bullshit. The “look, just shut up and wait around for hours or days so we can provide the service you paid for at our convenience. What do you mean, you’ve got better things to do? Like what? Working at the job that lets you pay us for the service in the first place? Pffft.” dance.

    I know it well and loathe it so. My sympathies.

  24. MadHatter says

    “…how he can’t see mold forming in my car even in a couple of weeks”

    Apparently he doesn’t live in Seattle…used to drive me crazy just how quickly things would be destroyed by mold if I didn’t keep on top of it.

  25. Julie says

    “Like a good neighbor…yeah fucking right.”

    When reading this did anyone else sing it with the jingle without even thinking about it? Cause I so did and it was wonderful :3

  26. Wendy says

    Insurance companies suck. If 10% of claim filers give up, they save loads of money. *sigh* That’s how they getcha.

  27. ischemgeek says

    Reminds me of my telecom company: “Oh, your internet is out for no apparent reason? I’m going to waste your time asking you to do everything you’ve already tried again for a half hour, then schedule someone to come at some point in the next week but I won’t tell you when or what day. When that person arrives, he’ll identify the problem but not have anything to fix it with (after all, he’s the diagnostic technitian and his job is just to identify the problem even though he has all the technical skills to fix it), so then we’ll schedule another person to come sometime the week after that to actually fix it. When she arrives, she’ll realize they didn’t give her the right equipment, and she’ll have to return another day. When it’s finally fixed, we’ll try to charge you for the repair of a problem caused by our hardware even though your contract says that if it’s our hardware, we deal with the cost, and no, we won’t refund your internet bill for this month despite the fact that you haven’t recieved service for three of the past four weeks.”

    Will be so glad when I can get out of that situation.

  28. Tom Singer says

    I suspect Deepsix does work in the industry, and knows a thing or two about it, but wants to make a clear distinction between work that he or she is paid to do, which comes along with professional responsibilities and liability for them or their company, and a little bit of friendly advice. Same as a lawyer might do.

    Dispute the characterization of insurance companies all you want, but don’t mischaracterize what was said.

  29. jaranath says

    Regardless of whether your policy will actually cover this, I think you’ve got something worth pursuing with your customer service experience thus far. This is not the public perception State Farm wants out there, and it probably violates policies of employee conduct and claim processing.

    That problem with nailing down a time for a person to come to you is near universal with the service industry these days, and it’s practically guaranteed they’ll miss whatever vague commitment they do make. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the money the big corporate accountants think they’re saving by outsourcing that work is lost in lack of accountability.

  30. Ewan Compton says

    Stories like this are familiar to anyone who has dealt with an insurance company in general and State Farm in particular. I think we can all sympathize.

  31. mightyamoeba says

    Please keep posting updates, Jen! I’m getting way too much enjoyment out of the sense of vicarious outrage.

  32. God says

    Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with a bad CSR. The advice given earlier about contacting the manager is a good idea- It will be the quickest way to get action if you continue to have problems getting it resolved. I’m not surprised that the CSR couldn’t tell you when the inspector would be available- in my experience they usually schedule their own time and appointments with the claimant and the CSR wouldn’t know when they’d be available. He should of told you that and informed you of by what time the inspector should contact you to make an appointment.

    As to whether or not it’s covered, your policy should lay it out in black and white. Sometimes there’s points of contention regarding interpretations, but you’ll need to be clear on what they are if you hope to prevail. The insurance company is required to pay on the coverage defined in the policy, not what you or they think is covered. If they fail to pay a clearly defined loss, they’re subject to a bad faith judgement which would mean substantially more money they would have to pay out in addition to the claim. Insurance companies hate having to pay bad faith claims- bad for their bank account, bad for their rep.

    As to immediacy of availability of an inspector- there’s a trade off between cost and availability. Insurance would be even less affordable if they kept enough personnel on call to ALWAYS be available the same day as opposed to within a reasonable time frame.

    Good luck.

  33. Peter says

    My experience with State farm has been excellent, they have never given me a hard time or been hard to reach. My suggestion is that you change agents, and make sure your present agent knows why.

  34. theScreeble says

    Jen, I am a third generation auto upholsterer with 12 years experience and my daily driver is a 2002 Camry (178k miles and still a great car). I am a few days late coming to these posts on your car and I haven’t read all the comments in the various posts to know if this has been covered, but perhaps I can let you know what, in my experience, you are in for if you agree to the restoration route.

    First the insurance company. IMO, they all suck on payouts for these types of claims, but State Farm is usually one of the better companies to deal with once they’ve decided to cover it. That said if they decide to cover it the repairs, such that can be done, will be rather pricey compared to the value of the car. Looking at the pictures and how far up the mold has creeped it is likely in the $2000+ range even with the availability of used parts for this car. Alternately, if they decide to cover it and “scrap” the car often they will not actually take it to a salvage yard but instead have a detailer do a superficial clean and deodorize then send it to the auction house to recoup some costs, becoming someone else’s problem. Yyes this is anecdotal, but seems to be the usual route for fire and water claims. I seldom see anything but brand new cars actually being restored.

    The “fix”. Some commenters have suggested shampoos and disinfectants but this will not eliminate the mold. Likely it is in carpets pad, behind the door panels, maybe even in in the seat foam or the wiring harness, etc..

    Once the cause of the problem has been found and repaired the correct fix, at least what can be done, is rather extensive. First the interior of the car, the trunk compartment and the a/c ducts should be be gutted. Likely the only thing left will be the dash system, hard panel insulation/sound deadener and wiring (it is another matter if these need removed). The interior will then be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, paying special attention to the items still left in the car (dash, wiring, fresh air system, doors, etc.). Then it will be allowed to dry and done all over again. If anything is determined to be uncleanable it will need replaced (and electronics get expensive). Once that is done new A/C ducting should be installed and a disinfectant should be run through the system. Next the hard panels (door panels, package tray, various plastic pieces, console, etc.) should be cleaned and reinstalled, the headliner and sun visors will be reinstalled at this time too, but the headliner board may need replaced (not just recovered) if the mold made it that far. Now new carpet and padding should go in, cleaning the old will not do here. Some good news though, the seats probably will not need recovered. The covers are almost always cleanable, but they must be removed from the seats, metal parts such as listings removed, then disinfected and laundered thoroughly. Now for the seat foams. They are obviously very porous and will need to be steam cleaned and disinfected. Only after they are completely dry will the covers get reinstalled, then the seat frame and tracks cleaned and then the seats can return to the car. Now we make sure everything works properly, one more round of disinfectant, some air freshener (I use bubble gum, seems to be the most well received) and likely now your car is restored.

    Even after all this there are places mold can hide and some insulation/sound deadener is in the uni-body framing of the car and cannot be replaced. Usually there isn’t a re-occurrence of mold, at most a residual musty smell may pop up on hot summer days after the car has baked in the sun with the windows rolled up. But as long as the person doing the restoration isn’t taking shortcuts and pays attention all this effort can fix the problem.

    …Oh, baby monitor says my little one is stirring, I hope this makes sense and apologist in advance for the spelling and grammar mistakes I didn’t get to go back over.

  35. Art says

    Adjusters/inspectors don’t make it easy. Every delay serves the insurance company so those companies that do make it easy get a point or two in their favor.

    Most adjustors are independent and most seem to work out of an office. The last two times I had to use their services I drove out to their office. First time it was at his suggestion. The second I pushed for it to expedite things and actually went inside right as the office opened, dragged him out, and stood by as he did his thing. Took about two minutes to write it down and take a snapshot.

    The time before that I just told them where the car was and they did their business while I was working. Then again that damage that could be clearly seen from the outside and a company which prided itself on service.

  36. DSimon says

    Are you saying that bad arguments and mis-statements should only be challenged when they are made against people on our side?

  37. God says

    Yes, it’s very thrifty to have your employees deny and keep dealing with a claim that’s going to be paid anyway so you can pay them for the extra time.

  38. Joe Dickinson says

    My State Farm experience. A driverless RV crashed into my garage, having rolled from up the block. The owner speculated, on no evidence whatsoever, that someone had been attempting to steal the vehicle and had released the parking break. State Farm, her insurance carrier, saw that in her report and declined to cover something like $10,000 in repair costs on grounds that the vehicle had been stolen.

  39. jerthebarbarian says

    That makes no sense. It’s not like employees are getting paid by the call – they’re either salaried (for call center grunts and office staff) or they’re on commission. If the call center grunt can get you to just give up and pay it yourself, the company wins. If the agent can discourage you from filing a claim and gets you to pay it yourself, the company wins.

    This is also why the first thing out of most agents mouths when you go to file a claim is something like “you can file for that, but just to let you know, if you do you’re rates will go up”. Because if they can discourage you from filing, they win. And then if you actually make them pay up for the contract they sold you, they’ll raise your rate or possibly deny you outright. Because now you go onto a “riskier” list – i.e. someone who is actually going to make them fulfill THEIR end of the contract occasionally.

  40. says

    Sounds like your agent is related to the Comcast installation tech who did my Internet access back in 2008 and the UPS driver who failed to deliver my mother’s birthday present last week. They’re all like, “You’re sitting at home in the middle of the week, putting your life on hold, waiting for us to show up at your door, right? Good; we’ll be over in the next couple of days. Sit tight!” This is the opposite of customer service.

  41. God says

    You’re correct, an agent may have an incentive to discourage a claim; I understand that for some of them their percentage commission can depend on the loss ratio of their clients.

    In my experience a CSR in a call center (which it sounds to me like what she spoke with) is usually paid a set salary and their motivation comes from management reviews of their correct handling of files, call volume and customer feedback. They get raises based on these reviews. The company staffs (a significant expense) based on expected volume and what each person is expected to handle. If the CSRs are spending extra time giving customers the run around and closing files prematurely (which then have to be reopened) then they’re not going to be handling as many files and the company has to have more staff. That was my (very boring) point.

  42. says

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  43. says

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  44. says

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  45. says

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  46. mikel wise says

    State Farm Insurance Denied My Claim After 7 Yrs.

    Our house burnt on Oct.11,2011 State Farm was our insurance company.
    State Farm did provide us temp shelter for 6 months afterwhich told
    us our claim was denied NO reason was given my families personal
    property clothing & family heirlooms wh……ich could never be
    replaced was destroyed in this fire, Now we are living in a home
    which I would not let an animal live in the roof is leaking I
    believe there is mold in halway…All State Farm Rep.Chip Wilmot
    could say is “Haven`t We Done Enough For You”…
    Thank You State Farm. Please Reply To : Mikel Wise 815-713-1113

  47. says

    wut could a gurl of 13 years old do 2 keep jhe teeth white and wut could b the bast toothe paste 4 her to use. i hope u can help thank you

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