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When a tree falls down…

by Half-Lady Lisa

March 13, 2017

On July 13, 2013, a tree falls down on my car. At first my insurance company denies paying for the deductible cost, even though I try very hard to explain to them that the victim should not be the person to take responsible to pay for anything. I choose to pay my insurance with deductible because I don’t drive much—think about a 14 years old car, under 30,000 miles, means that I almost never drive so I think that it would be unnecessary to pay too much. The tree is owned by City so all the costs should be billed at the owner’s responsibility. On my part, the lesser in value and the depreciation costs caused by the damn tree are much enough for a deplorable victim to bear. Now both the insurance company and City want the victim to pay extra. And what’s about the property owner responds in this case—nothing? And what’s about the insurance company—have your insurance company ever paid you worth enough you have paid them? I explain to my insurance company that I have paid them more than they pay me. This is the first time I claim the money I have paid them for more than a decade so why don’t they show their willingness in helping their valued customer? However, my insurance company tells me that they have claimed in the case like my case many times but never get paid from government by the reason government always uses that ‘by law, City doesn’t require to take responsible in any case which is the ‘Act of God’—I am speechless. As this is the first time, honestly, I have never heard in my life about this law—is this real? I explain to my insurance company that this is not the ‘Act of God’. The tree has never been cut for many years while City has posted signs to cut the trees in the area several times. Other trees are cut, except the tree always misses cutting. In my belief, the tree is too close to the electric pole so workers are fear of danger. However, the insurance company keeps saying that without the evidence to proof, they find no way to claim my case.

In my life, I have tried already to avoid involving in any Godful events but God still likes playing games with me. When you have never thought that any tree would fall down on your car some days, who has ever thought of keeping photos of all the trees in the area—how can you find the past photos to proof that the tree hasn’t been cut for years. After felling hopeless, one night I do like I sometimes do when desperate—to question and complain the person who acts badly—is this bad act his act? Not all the things happen on earth come from him because normally he doesn’t want to involve in human’s activity. Before using ‘Act of God’ as a law, Americans have to understand the nature of Gods. There are two kinds of Gods: positive and negative. Negative God is what people called ‘Evil’ so evil is also a kind of God who like helping some people succeed in doing bad things. If you feel lucky in doing a certain thing at the beginning then bad luck comes in the end, you are likely to get help from evil, for example a politician who makes good money from corruption, feels lucky at the beginning but be put in jail in the end. In contrast, if you feel bad luck at the beginning but feeling lucky in the end, for example you miss the flight so you feel bad luck and keep blaming bad traffic all the way to the airport then an hour later you watch the news that the plane crashes so the missing flight makes you feel fortunate—this case you are likely to get help from positive God. As God often comes in silent, one quiet night I take many hours to concentrate in complaining his bad act whether positive or negative Gods to get the answer whose act actually pranks me—‘My life has been peaceful for a long time until you kid me. Open your eyes and take a look what you have done to me. There are many cars on street but why it has to be my car? Not only that, the problem is left on me to solve it alone—is this fair to me, my Lord? Don’t you think about helping me at all…’ I spend many hours to complain until feeling tired. Late of the night I decide to end my complaint with a promise to him that if some way he can help, I will tell my story so my case may change the ‘Act of God’ law—‘Please help me. I couldn’t help myself’. And this is how that same night I find the evidence—‘the photos are in Google map’—something implies me. I immediately check on my computer then I find what they call ‘Google Street View’. There are timeline photos of the tree to proof that the tree has never been cut for many years. If the accident doesn’t happen, I believe that the tree is still uncut today and it would cause the electricity to explode which could possible result in a big blast of fire to the building nearby; imagine that the damage could be more extreme. The case is still on going until 2018 but the insurance company now decides to pay me in advance so I don’t have to wait until 2018.

As promise, here is the main reason I have to tell my story: ‘Act of God’ is a nonsense and obsolete law. It allows City and insurance company find a point to deny taking responsibility as my case. In such the accident that has the owner, the property owner should immediately take responsibility. In some cases couldn’t find the owner such as lightning, insurance company should pay in full with non-deductible like glass. In my opinion, referring to my case, the ‘Act of God’ Law favors only government but generally isn’t fair to victims. For instant, you own a property and you refuse to clean snow and leaf in front of your property then City must give you a ticket and they will have some ways absolutely to force you to pay—Can you deny paying the ticket by the reason that ‘snow and leaf fall down by themselves and that should be the ‘Act of God’?’ A rat runs on your driveway, your neighbor sees it and calls City right away. Are you allowed to dispute that ‘rat is not your pet; it is a living nature which it runs everywhere even into a clean building, yet no one can proof that the rat searches for foods in your property; at the time the neighbor see it, the rat may just run past by your property on its way home?’ When bad things happen, you don’t want to hear people come up with hundreds of reasons to dispute, especially small claim cases which don’t require having a lawyer. You want your case closed quickly so you can move on and ready to forget the nightmare. And that the reason that either the property owner should immediately take responsibility or insurance company should cover in full. Victims do not deserve to pay for anything.

I also send a letter to Pope Francis to tell him that the wrongful use of God’s act in America’s law should be unfair to his religion.

Although, I have never work with any insurance company, after the accident happens it gives me understand some what of how the insurance company works. So, I would like to suggest something which might be useful to many insurance companies and their customers. But like I have mentioned that I never work in an insurance company so don’t expect that my suggestions would be all correct.

I see paying for auto insurance is like getting parking tickets. You always get mad when receiving a parking ticket—I think I should be right about—who doesn’t? This is because you don’t see what you pay for. You don’t mind to pay a big money for a fancy car (if you can afford) or a million dollar home because you see what you pay for and your neighbors also see what you pay for. However, you drive a car for ten years, as a good driver you may never claim once so you don’t see what returns to you; money you pay each month to insurance company makes you feel that it only goes to waste. Moreover, if you tell your friends that you pay a big money for insurance or parking tickets, they don’t honor you that ‘wow, you are rich!’, instead they mock you as stupid. So, I believe that insurance cost should be as cheap as possible. Insurance companies should charge customers at the lowest rates as possible like if customers choose to pay with deductible but offering all customers full coverage as premium. Now you must think that my suggestion would drive insurance companies to bankrupt? Before imagining about bankruptcy, let put your thoughts to the benefits insurance companies will receive first—‘if customers have never ever had problems with their insurance companies, they will never have an idea to change their insurance company which means that the insurance company will have loyal customers for life’. Paying for insurance is unlike paying for luxurious fashion items that some days they can become old fashion or boring to you. So, now let talk about the problems. The problems that I have with insurance company are: first the price is too high then I can find the cheaper one so I decide to change the company. Second problem is, fighting too tough with their customer services/agents over the unsatisfied claim in the level that can raise anger then end up breaking relationship.

The processes of claim based on my experience: when the accident happens, first, I contact my insurance company. The company sends someone to my house the very next day—as quick as I was surprised because I expect they would show up in a few days or a week. It makes me think that the company may hire a lot of people to work on this part or pay high commission in racing to be the fastest one. In my opinion, in this generation most people have camera on their cell phone and they even love taking photos and upload like they do on their social network sites. I can take the photos by myself. Insurance companies create a web site that can be easy for customers to upload around 4-5 photos, include short instructions direct them which photos insurance companies want to see. In case, the company needs more photos, don’t tell customers to do more jobs because garage also has a camera. Technicians understand your technical words better than customers so let them do the rest of the jobs. Then insurance companies only have a handful of people sit in the offices to see new photos/cases come up on screens then making the phone calls to negotiate the costs with the garages. Insurance companies only send someone to take a look at the garage only in some cases they are really not sure about. The negotiation would not be so difficult because most cases are similar. Garages are also willing to negotiate because they don’t want customers leave to another garage without getting paid. In this case, insurance companies can lay off a huge number of employees who work on this job and use the savings on their salaries to give more discounts to customers.

Next, normally customers will contact their insurance companies only when they claim, especially they will call nonstop if they have to wait for long time for an unpaid claim and therefore when every insurance company chooses to pay each case in full, customers will not call (or less calls) their insurance companies (normally customers don’t want anything, except getting paid, that’s all) so the companies can lay off half (or more than half) of their customer services. I have bad experience with a customer service at the insurance company I use prior to tell. One day my ex-insurance company send me a statement, I notice that the rate is higher than the past year while I am a good driver. It supposes to be lower each year, not higher, or they may forget to give low mirage discounts which I normally receive each year so it urges me to call to find out. Unbelievably, the customer service laughs at me in the way makes me sense she is mocking at me before explaining to me with unfriendly voice that ‘hospitals increase fees’. That is the reason I change the insurance company to the company I use right now. Sometimes you don’t understand that as working in an insurance company should be considered a good, honor job, why—the ways they choose to treat their valued customers seem like scammers. Hiring too many employees is pro and con. Some employees can potentially cause businesses to bankrupt! Insurance companies have to lay off employees as much as they can to give more discounts to customers. One employee gets paid for salary, health insurance, bonus, holidays/vacations/sick days, yet his/her salary increases each year! If you can make millions in profits with only fewer employees, you are very lucky. The more employees, the headache boss is.

Now, it comes to advertising strategy. If you watch TV one day you don’t see insurance ads, that day something must go wrong about the channel you are watching. Insurance companies fight tough each other competing for customers until I have to think that how much money they pay for the TV ads, yet including other kinds of ads like prints and highway board? How many millions of dollars they put on the commercial ads and who actually pay for that—valued customers like all of us? Is that also the part of the reasons that insurance costs keep going up? Too-much advertising expense can potentially cause businesses to bankrupt!

Let me tell my experience long time ago when I bought my first car. My car dealer tells me that I can’t drive without insurance so he suggests me to walk across street from the dealer’s office; there is an auto insurance opens store there. I go there and find that the place is so busy. I have to wait in line which takes a while. When finish all the papers with the insurance, I come back and tells the car dealer that the place he suggests is so busy. He tells me that he suggests every customer to go there because it’s easy to walk back and forth and everyone goes there. If you make a decision to buy a car with a dealer, it means you should also like the dealer so you are likely to believe his suggestion. So, why not, let car dealers also sell car insurance at the same time, in the same way let real estate agents also sell home insurance at the same time so the insurance companies can cut the advertising costs and use that savings to give more discounts to customers. Look—one millions people watch TV commercial ads, maybe half of them may never own a car like elderly and young kids, including people who use public transportations and bicycles. Moreover, thousands of people who own a car may never think about changing their insurance companies so they may not seriously pay attention to the ads. But everyone who is buying a car, by law, needs auto insurance. Think like this—advertising can help businesses make millions of profits, in the same time it costs millions also. Moreover, car dealers and real estate agents can use the commissions they receive from selling insurances as a gift offer to encourage the sells. For example, in order to drive customers to make faster decision to buy a car, dealers can offer first-year free auto insurance. Buying a home right now, get free first-two-year home insurance or buying another home will get free first-three-year home insurance so home owners can use that savings to buy new furniture or to renovate their new homes. Car dealers and real estate agents already make good money from selling one car or a home so they may not care much about the commission from selling insurance but use it to encourage their customers to make faster decisions. Comparing to insurance agents, their source of income is only one way so they can’t give any discount much to customers. Some businesses have to bound to other businesses as I mention earlier that people don’t mind to put more money on fancy car (if they can afford) but they are unwilling to put more money to things they barely see the returns. When the insurance costs go down, people can put more money to buy a better car, or unwilling to keep their cars that long for 14 years like I do, so auto industries can have more money to develop their technologies more friendly to environment and safer for customers.

If you keep thinking more, you will discover more ways that many businesses can connect together to save advertising costs while they don’t have to lose their businesses. When you buy one car, you have to buy other things else: you have to pay for gas, pay for services, buy other accessorily and auto parts/ carpets/ tires, and pay back loans. A bank manager used to tell me long time ago that bank has no business because bank doesn’t give anything to customers. You see ten windows at the bank’s tellers, perhaps only two open. Yet, many banks rent a property as big as a castle—how much do they pay for rent? Can insurance companies use banks as their financial accountants to collect money from customers for them? So that banks can offer customers, for example, if you allow banks to auto deduct monthly insurance, you get 10% discount, general speaking money will be auto-deducted from your bank account at 10% discount each month and any month you don’t have sufficient fund in your account, the particular month will be billed in full to encourage insurance customers taking responsible in paying on time. If you have $30,000 in your bank account all the time, you get 6 months or one year free auto insurance. If you have 50,000 in you bank account, you get free both auto and home insurance then banks can use these customers’ money savings to give loan to the next person who want to buy car and home without making too much loan from foreign banks. People who ask for loans are likely to use the loan involving in insurance such as buy a car, home or even opening a small business also need insurance so why not, let loan officers sell insurance at the same time. Loan officers, car dealers and real estate agents can connect to a central web site created which has all the lists of insurance companies. These bankers, car dealers and real estate agents already have customers’ information on hand then they just simply put customers’ information on the web site then the insurance quotes from every company show up on screen. Why have to let customers walking across street go to this/that place. Why not get all the things done in one stop and every business share rent and advertising together. Making all the processes shorter results in all the costs will be cheaper by themselves. This way helps customers make an easy pick at the cheapest one as every insurance company now offers the same, the full coverage with non-deductible. The full coverage also makes it easy for loan officers, car dealers and real estate agents to sell insurance without confusing customers. When customers don’t need to fight over claims with insurance companies, they don’t need to contact insurance agents/customer services. When customers are already happy with the lowest price they could possible find with full coverage, they will stay with the same insurance for life.

Think like products ‘As Seen on TV’, customers intend to order only one item but they receive a big package include 4 or 5 items as free gifts offered in the box. No any customer would complain, even the one who doesn’t want the free gifts as long as the gifts make the product look cheaper and customers feel of paying less. Imagine, if these 4 or 5 gifts offered are in stores, no one would want to buy them. But when you combine businesses together, unsold products can be quickly sold out. A furniture store often seen encourages customers that buy one mattress and they don’t have to pay for interests for five years—the question is ‘would the credit card companies go bankrupt?’ Actually, these free gifts offered are not free but they share profits together because customers don’t want their money spent on a certain thing but they don’t mind to pay more for another thing. Some products/services can’t stand alone or even raise anger if government forces people to pay. A bank can come up with a strategy that ‘loan money at their bank to buy a new car, and customers will pay only six-month insurance each year’—they will bill customers month another month. One business is better used to encourage another business. However, before businesses come to this point, insurance companies have to commit cutting their spending as much as they can: lay off workers on unnecessary departments then these insurance workers will get a new job to boost the businesses that customers are willing to spend more, and cut a huge advertising cost because no need to pay too much for ads on the products customers don’t want to see then use these big savings direct to customers as discounts. My idea is to bring down the big insurance cost to be smaller first then from small cost the insurance companies have to try to make it look like it disappears from people life because, psychologically, customers would be happier to tell others that they own an expensive car than telling that they pay too much for insurance—aren't they?

Finally, I really hope that my idea can help insurance companies to be more successful and that would benefit millions of their customers to pay less. I only one who get nothing.

© 2017, by ½ Lady Lisa. All Rights Reserved.