November/December  2001

Field of Vision
    From the Editor

The Ordeal
by Penny Beverage

Every morning, tractor-trailers drive by me on the interstate, throwing pebbles onto the cars around them. One recent morning one of those rocks hit my own windshield, leaving a small chip. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just have it repaired.”

I called my insurance company (which shall remain nameless). The “friendly” operator who answered told me I would have to speak to a claims adjuster to report any sort of “accident.” Minutes later, the claims adjuster picked up the phone, “I was told you’d like to report an accident.”

“Well, it wasn’t an accident—I just have a rock chip in my windshield,” I replied.

She proceeded to ask me a 15-minute list of questions about the “accident.” Finally, the important question—the one for which I’d been waiting—came: “do you have a shop in mind for where you’d like to take your vehicle?” I told her I had a shop in mind, but wanted to know whom else they would suggest—just to satisfy my own curiosity. 

Instead of providing this information, she put me on hold to look up the list price for the windshield for my 2000 Honda Civic, in case it did need to be replaced. I spent my on-hold time looking up the NAGS price as well and discovered that the windshield, FW02055, has a NAGS price of $619.20. Finally, the claims adjuster returned and told me my windshield had a list price of $480 (22 percent off NAGS). “Now, I’m going to transfer you to our glass claims processing unit,” she said, which just happens to be handled by a large (again, nameless) auto glass chain, “and they will set you up with an appointment.”

“Wait,” I said, “Do I have to take my car to that [nameless] company?”

“Oh no,” she said, “but we do guarantee their work. But if you don’t want them to do the job, they have a list of other shops to which you could go. They’ll have to tell you who is on that list, though—I don’t have access to that information. Hold on while I transfer you.”

Several more minutes passed before a familiar voice returned to the phone, “No one in our glass processing unit seems to be available. Since you said you have a shop in mind, though, I’ll go ahead and set you up. Hold one moment.”

Again, she returned, “OK, everything is set with your requested shop.”

I proceeded to call my local shop, assuming the insurer had spoken with them. “We haven’t received a call,” the lady said, “but if they gave you a claim number, we can do it with that.” Luckily, in a brief moment of efficiency—of the half-hour spent on the phone with this insurer—they had given me a claim number.

Finally, I was set—excited, but frustrated with my insurance company. Then I realized our readers don’t have to endure this ordeal every couple of years when rocks fly into their windshields; they have to endure it daily.

In "Sinking Prices," you’ll see how auto glass repair and replacement technicians are dealing with insurance companies and how one of the industry’s associations, the NWRA, is taking action as a group. Maybe this will encourage you all to get involved in this effort, and maybe some day, the “ordeal” will no longer be such. 

Penny Beverage is the editor of AGRR magazine. 

AGRR

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