Property Casualty

A Personal Story with a Big Lesson

Joe DeLuca
Joe DeLuca
Property Casualty

We all love a personal story, right? What’s more is that we all love stories we can learn from and ones that have happy endings! Well, I’m going to give you all three in one! So sit back and grab a coffee or soda because you’re about to go on wild ride — one I went on recently.

Earlier this fall, my garage door opener had been on the fritz. You know the deal…it wouldn’t open the door, so I actually had to get out of the car and use a keypad to open the door. It was a hassle, and it had been that way for about a month. It was on my “to-do” list to fix, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Well, on the morning of Saturday, October 22 (I remember that day vividly…and you’ll know why in a second), I got home from being out and about, parked my car in the driveway, typed in my garage code, and headed into the house with every intention of coming back out at some point to move my car into the garage.

Well, I ended up spending the entire day inside — relaxing, watching football…you know, normal things…not even considering my car was still in the driveway. As Cubs fans might recall, we had a pretty eventful October. On this fateful night, it was game 6 of the NLCS and a trip to the World Series was on the line. I had a buddy over, we watched the Cubs clinch their first World Series berth since 1945, and, I’m not going to lie, emotions were at an all-time high. At about 10:45 p.m., I was exhausted as I walked my buddy out and shut the garage door behind him. I thought to myself, “I should pull my car in. Nah, it will be fine. I’ll just move it in the morning.”

Fast forward to about 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning. My daughter wanted donuts, so naturally, she’s too sweet to say no to. The two of us walked out of the house to get in my car, but there was one problem — my car was not there. Now, I have a good — some may say great — sense of humor and this would have been an excellent prank for a neighbor to pull on me. But after a quick trip around the neighborhood, there was still no sign of my car. It had been stolen. I called the police and filed a report…and then the waiting game began.

This is where it gets really interesting. I thought to myself, “I have insurance. This is going to be just fine, right?” But did the insurance policy I felt comfortable paying the premiums for have the “value” I needed to get me through this claim?

The questions and thoughts were swirling in my head. They went a little something like this:

Okay…so I have no car now and I’m probably going to have to purchase a new one. How much money will my claim settle for? My car is insured at actual cash value, meaning that whatever an insurance company says my car is valued for, is what I will get. Well, what if my loan payoff is for more than that? That would not be good. My solution: There’s an alternative coverage referred to as “Agreed Value.” This would pay closer to the value of my car when I first purchased it and above what my loan payoff amount is.

Another possible solution I didn’t have at my disposal at the time was I could’ve originally purchased a coverage called “Loan or Lease Gap,” which is available on vehicles a model year or 2-years-old. Obviously, this coverage is more expensive, but come claim time, I would’ve loved to have paid the extra money at the beginning!

I know, I know. I said this would have a happy ending…and it does. My car didn’t end up in a chop shop in another city. It turns out, this particular car thief had no plans of scrapping my car for money; the thief just needed some wheels. So four days later, my car was found. And what was a theft claim, ended up being a comprehensive claim. That was good news.

I dropped my car off at a local dealership to begin the process. My car was in the shop for a total of 30 days and $5,700 in repairs. That’s not a lot of damage, but I was at the mercy of back orders, things breaking, and waiting…oh, the waiting. Side note: What I should mention is that how long it takes to repair your car is unpredictable, but needing a car is predictable. If I wouldn’t have had rental reimbursement on my auto policy, I would’ve been on the hook for about $900 for a rental car. To add this coverage to your auto policy is about $22-30 a year per car.

On November 29, I drove out of the dealership with what seemed like a brand new car. I’m thankful my insurance company helped me escape financial hardship. Dealing directly with an insurance carrier can be somewhat of a nightmare; however, the process and people I dealt with were excellent! The problem is I had to take time out of my day to deal with this. It would have been so much easier to have an agent or a broker handling all of this. Being in the insurance business, I know there’s some danger in not having a licensed insurance agent in your corner and working for you.

So here’s the moral of the story. Double check all your policies (not just your auto policy) and learn from my experience. I’m in the business, so I know what to expect. However, I fully understand insurance can be confusing and messy. If you’re unsure of how your policies work, what kind of policies you actually have, or if you have the correct coverage in certain areas, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. I’d love to walk through this with you and make sure you have what you need.

Oh…and, in case you’re wondering, my garage door opener is now fixed. Let’s just say I review my “to-do” list a little closer these days!

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