Not long ago, I got a LinkedIn notification about a new Insurance Journal LinkedIn post entitled Experienced an Auto Insurance Claim Lately?” The opening of the post said:

“If you’ve had an auto claim recently chances are you were offered a photo appraisal. This technology is proving a ‘game changer’ moving claim cycle times down from 5-8 days to only hours.”

In June, I had my first personal auto claim since 1968. Yep, 50 years without an auto claim. My insurer had an automated claim reporting system that I accessed via my phone. I essentially involved me transmitting photos of the damage from several angles.

I had an estimate for repairs the next day for $1,960.41 and a check 3 days later for that less my $250 deductible. The estimate said repairs should take 4-5 days.

The cost of the actual repairs? Over $5,000. The time to get the repairs completed? 32 days.

How often did I hear from the adjuster or the repair shop during those 32 days? Never. Not once. No updates on that 4-5 day repair period I was expecting. Until I started calling, then they figured out they could save time by having their approved repair shop update me weekly.

In addition, in my only phone conversation with the adjuster, he advised (as I knew) that my policy included up to 30 days temporary substitute car rental for up to $40 per day. As anyone who has read my articles or attended my seminars over the past 30+ years knows, I don’t rent vehicles without buying the loss damage waiver (LDW).

So, I asked the adjuster if I could use that $40 to cover the daily rental and the cost of the LDW if I could negotiate both within the $40 limit. I was told “No” because (1) my policy only covers the actual rental cost and (2) there’s no need to buy the LDW because my physical damage transfers to nonowned cars.

With regard to (2) above, clearly the adjuster hasn’t read this article. There are quite a few things my auto policy may not cover with regard to damage to a rental car, the most important to me being diminished value. You would think an insurance adjuster would know this, but I find that perhaps a majority of insurance professionals simply do not understand this.

With regard to (1) above, my policy really doesn’t say that at all. It just says I have up to $40 a day for “temporary transportation expenses.” Given, as explained in (1) above, that my policy doesn’t transfer perfectly to the rental car, I’d like to think that the LDW is a legitimate necessary expense and could potentially save the carrier from having to be involved in yet another claim for a mere pittance.

But, rather than debate the issue, given that my wife and I own three vehicles, I drove the one that still worked rather than renting a car, saving the insurer up to $1,200.

We hear often today from insurtech startups about the “customer experience” and how technology can move that experience from pain to near orgasmic pleasure. Reporting the claim was awesome…only minutes required. How do you think I feel about the rest of the experience?

What is your experience in dealing with these new means and methods? How accurate is the simple transfer of phone photos in determining actual repair costs and how long they will take? Feed free to comment in the Comments/Leave a Reply section below.

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Bill Wilson

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One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information