The $10 gouge from Allstate

It was a nice day yesterday.  I took some pictures of the frozen Cohoes Falls with my Russian ultrawide camera, I won $45 by picking the superfecta in the first race at Laurel Park (it kinda helped that one of the horses I didn’t bet on tossed his rider and was DQ’d), and other things that went well.

I got home – oh good, there’s something I ordered online that finally arrived, there’s the DVD I wanted to send my daughter Cassaundra that was promised to arrive in time for Christmas, and a letter from my car insurance company Allstate.

A few things to remember.  Ever since my divorce back in 2011, I have always made it an important goal to pay my insurance in full, or in as few monthly installments as necessary.  That way, I don’t get socked for $3.50/month installment charges.  I also do the safe driving course, which takes a percentage off of my insurance costs, and I maintain a squeaky-clean driving record.

Okay, it’s probably just some junk e-mail solicitation to consider some other insurance offers, I can handle this.  I open the envelope.

PLEASE PAY IN FULL AMOUNT $10.00

Huh?

Wha?

How the –

What the –

Okay, let me back up.  In my last renewal, I paid the entire amount.  No six-month spreading out of my insurance payments.

So where did this $10 fee come from?

A few phone calls here and there, a couple of stints in Allstate’s robotic phone jail, and I finally reached someone named Tamara.  Tamara explained to me that apparently that there’s something called the New York State Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement Fee, which charges New York State drivers $5 per six-month insurance period.

Oh… kay…  so why all of a sudden is it showing up on my bill?  Wasn’t it part of my renewal six months ago, twelve months ago, eighteen months ago?

She didn’t have an answer.  But she did tell me that they have to charge it and I should have seen it on my bill and I should have paid it.

Seriously?

After stewing over this whole issue… and finding out that the policy is known as New York State Insurance Company Law Section 9110, and trying to figure out whether I’m in a scene from Last Tango in Paris and Allstate is playing the part of Marlon Brando…

This morning I called Allstate again.  I have to get this resolved.

And I spoke to someone named David.  David explained a few things to me regarding this bill.

And it surprised me.

See, I might not have known about the $5 New York State Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement Fee in that when I acquired the Blackbird in November 2012, there was an adjustment in my coverage based on the differences in safety features between the Blackbird and my previous car.  And in the summer of 2013, I participated in one of those 3-hour insurance courses (you know, the ones that are designed to shave points off your driver’s license or reduce your insurance premiums).  So that reduction in my insurance premium may have also included the $5 New York State Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement Fee.

And in February 2014, when I received my next renewal notice, I might not have noticed that there was an additional $5 fee on the bill (it was on page 2), and silly me, thinking that the renewal policy amount on the front of the bill – in big bold numbers on page 1 – was the total amount owed, I paid it.

Why didn’t Allstate charge me the $5 in a subsequent “hey wait a minute, you missed this amount” bill?  Allstate doesn’t send bills for an amount under $5.

So in August 2014, when I paid my insurance policy in full, guess what… there was another hidden $5 New York State Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement Fee on page 2 or somewhere.  And for some reason, that fee – plus the $5 fee – was not included on the amount shown on page 1 of my bill.

So when I received my Allstate statement yesterday, and it showed me with a $10 past due amount… because apparently it’s more financially feasible for Allstate to send a bill for $10 than it is for them to send a bill for $5…

Yeah, you can tell I’m pissed right now.  This is a dirty trick.

Here’s the thing.  When I pay my Verizon bill, all the charges – including the ones that sound important but are really a bunch of bat guano – are on the front of the bill.  When I pay my Time Warner Cable bill, all the charges – including those suspicious ones that guarantee that every fourth channel will have an episode of Law and Order on it – are on the front of the bill.  I would certainly expect the same from an insurance company that promises to be my “good hands” company, and which right now is just showing me the finger.

I thought about this all night and into the morning.  And I made a decision.

I’ll stay with Allstate.  And, as in the past, I will pay my bill in full.  I was able to find out my next six-month contract amount while I was waiting in one of Allstate’s automated phone jails.

So I’ll pay it.  And I’ll automatically assume that I will have to pay an additional $5 for the New York State Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement Fee.

And I’ll assume that I will have to pay an additional $1.50 for processing of this fee.

That, an an additional $0.16 for maintenance and execution of this fee.

So as far as I’m concerned… I will be paying Allstate, in addition to my current bill owed… an additional six dollars and sixty-six cents to cover not only the hidden fees that I know about, but also the hidden fees that still remain hidden.

Because how more appropriate is it to send a bill to a company with an additional $6.66 in payment, especially to a company that has shown to bedevil me in moments like this. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “The $10 gouge from Allstate”

  1. Don’t you love how NY state gets is fees hidden in other bills. Then there are the fees you actually do not see that are levied on the company and they just raise the price to cover it. HOWEVER the total due amount or pay this full amount should very well include everything you owe.

    Every few years, you should contact an independent agent and have them get some price quotes for you. Most times they can save $50 per year which isn’t worth the change, but one year, they saved me hundreds so it was worth switching from the company I had for around 20 years.

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  2. I concur with what Megain says. It pays to shop around even if you don’t change. A few years ago I realized that our auto insurance premium had been creeping up every year, and all of a sudden it looked unreasonable to me. I called the representative for an explanation, and to make a long story (most of which I didn’t understand) short, they cancelled our policy and opened a new one. Same company, same coverage, same everything, but the premium was over 50% less! Sometimes I think they take advantage of long time customers thinking they don’t want the hassle of switching.

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  3. I concur with comparison shopping every so often. It also helps to make an appointment to sit down with your agent face to face (if that’s possible). One of the reasons I have stayed with Allstate as long as I have is that I can always call my local agent and schedule a sit-down. This last time, he was able to save me more than $300 every six months on what I had been paying.

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