Thursday last week, when both my parents came up for a visit, they came in wielding the fruits of my car’s windshield. Tucked under the wipers were two points of notice. One from not more than an hour earlier, announcing my car was in violation of Seattle’s 72 hour maximum street parking rule. Honestly it had been parked in the same spot without moving for a good several weeks by that point. And a note regarding the fender and bumper damage that had ostensibly occurred the day before on Wednesday. I was busy having the adventure of childbirth and getting my feet under me with a neonate, and meanwhile my car was having it’s own adventures (misadventures) on the city streets of our University District neighborhood. Amazing what can transpire in this city while you’re busy looking in the other direction.
On point one, I weighed the benefits of simply paying the $44 parking infraction, but then figured I had little to lose by contesting, and could make a fairly compelling case. I sent in this letter with my ticket, and I’ll keep you apprised of the outcome.
Point two is where the flummox comes in. This guy we will call Bender, is a college student who appears extraordinarily conscientious, leaves a verbose apologetic note and going so far as to duct tape my broken bumper together. He leaves a phone number, no name. See exhibit A.
Replace my bumper?! Who is this person? There’s body damage to the fender and the damage to the headlight as well. To me this is an obvious insurance claim. I quickly realize that dealing with this naïve young man will surely raise my stress level, so I enlist the help of my husband to be the liaison to communicate with Bender. I call my insurance company and get the lowdown. Basically it should really only go through my insurance if he is truly an uninsured motorist, or if he is absolutely uncooperative. In that case, the deductible would be $300 for me or $100 if I could provide his name, address and phone number. But then it gets tricky if he has insurance, but just won’t divulge. So I ask my husband to try to get his insurance information. Bender is evasive and says he doesn’t know, that it’s through his mother who is out of town. This goes on for a week.
Meanwhile I fit in an appointment to get the estimate from my Autobody Shop. I’m not surprised it’s >$1600, and that’s with the caveat of no body damage being found when the damaged bumper and fender are removed. They need the claim number before proceeding to order parts and call me to book my appointment. Time to get serious with Bender. Either he will or he won’t provide his insurance information, as he is required to do by Washington State law. Again he is dodgy, and repeats his mother is out of town, but he thinks $1600 is ridiculous for a bumper and demands the name of the Autobody Shop, saying he is going to call them (and give them a piece of his mind apparently). I’m so embarrassed. This shop is really good and I’ve been using them for 15 years. It took me a week to get in for an appraisal appointment. It reminds me of the irrational eccentrics that want to argue with us at the pharmacy regarding what their insurance should/does/doesn’t cover. Some even go so far as to provide us with handwritten letters of rant addressed to the Mr. President.
My sweet husband gave him 45 minutes, ample opportunity to harass the Autobody Shop, before calling back. Bender was contrite at this point and provided his mother’s insurance information. The insurance carrier, it turns out is a small seven office outfit in Southern Mississippi on central standard time with no 24 hours call center. The saga will continue unresolved until the coming day. It seems doubtful that this insurance company has a contract with my Autobody Shop as one of their preferred providers. We are crossing our fingers that it won’t be required to ship my car to Mississippi for repairs. They might just duct tape it together and ship it back.