Back before we were married but when we owned a home together (see? I have LOTS of stories still to tell you), my now-husband and I went to get some content insurance.
We gave all our info to the insurance agent and waited to get our quote. She plugged some numbers in.
“And you’re not married?”
“No, we’re not. Not yet.”
“Well, you could SAY you’re married. I mean… how would anyone really find out otherwise? That would reduce your premium…”
“But we’re NOT. So, please, just put that.”
We were already feeling kind of leery about this interaction, but we stuck it out.
“You could save significant money if you also switched your car insurance over. It looks like I could save you over $300 a year on that. I’ll go ahead and call them for you and get that done, okay?”
“Um, okay. That sounds good, I guess.”
And so it went.
As it turns out, I got a phone call at work a few days later letting me know that, in fact, I wasn’t going to save a dime on my car insurance. It would be exactly the same. I was mad, but I didn’t feel like jumping through the necessary hoops to get it all changed back. Fine.
But then a customer satisfaction survey arrived in my mailbox. And, believing it was important, I was honest. I checked off the appropriate boxes and, under comments, carefully printed:
“The agent made us uncomfortable by encouraging us to lie and being deceitful about a quote.”
And I sent it off.
A couple weeks later, a postcard came in the mail. It read, simply:
“Jessica, I’d like to know how exactly we `lied and deceived you.’”
I ignored it. I didn’t feel like fighting with this woman. Plus, I was annoyed by the awkward grammar she’d used.
Fast-forward about a year, and I was busily planning a wedding. My driver’s license came up for renewal and I got permission to leave work early so I could zip over to the DMV. I stood in line, waited my turn, then stepped forward to do the vision test.
I knew right away there was a problem.
The man working at the window typed in my info. He glanced up at me. He typed more. He got a supervisor.
I couldn’t renew my license. It was flagged. In fact, it was tagged “pending suspension for failure to maintain insurance.”
Turns out I had no insurance. The Allstate agent? Had cancelled my policy without notifying me after receiving my survey.
The day after my DMV fiasco, a check for a portion of my insurance policy arrived in the mail. Once I was suspended in the system, there was no reason not to let me know about it, so she had returned my payment.
Fixing this? Was a nightmare. I had to pay insanely high insurance rates for quite awhile. I also had to pay an extra fee to renew my license. Because my record was totally clean and I had no prior issues with, well, anything, I was able to get it all together. But not before spending an evening, arms wrapped around my knees, rocking and sobbing on the floor, convinced that my world was falling apart.
It was the agent, not the company, that was the real problem here, but I’ve never done business with Allstate again. That experience taught me that “professionals” can be anything but.
It also taught me to be careful with whom I’m totally honest.