As many of you know, last June I was involved in a horrible car accident in which my beloved 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS, nicknamed “The Blackbird,” was destroyed. The accident happened in North Carolina; I had to get home to New York. My car was completely undriveable; and in that moment, I had to find a way to get home.
No, I couldn’t walk all the way to New York from North Carolina.
No, I wasn’t about to engage in the age-old tradition of hitch-hiking.
I had to rent a car. And the closest outlet that could get me a vehicle was an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Benson, North Carolina.
The owners of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car must have seen me coming from a mile away. I told them I needed a car to get from North Carolina to Albany. They told me they had no vehicles available.
I told them that I still needed to get home.
They offered me what they said was their only vehicle available, a white panel-van that looks like it once hauled tools from a construction site. “This is some nice reliable transportation here,” the owner said to me in a drawl that sounded as if he was concocting a plan against Bo and Luke Duke.
I looked outside the Enterprise building. There was a Ford Focus available.
“Why can’t I take that car?” I asked.
And thus I introduce you to Chuck Miller’s Law of Rental Vehicles. “Companies will either upsell you on cars you don’t need, or stick you with cars you don’t want.” And after much hemming and hawing – including having to pay a $100 “one way” surcharge and a host of other fees and add-ons – I was back on the road, headed for home, my wallet $300 lighter for the experience.
It was only after I stopped to get some “I need to contemplate why I’m still alive after that nasty car crash” food, that I looked at the windshield of the Ford Focus.
Wow, It’s got a New York State inspection sticker. So I’m essentially driving this thing back to its home as well. Yep, inspection valid to May of 2016 –
May of 2016? Calendar check. I’m driving this car in June of 2016.
Fantastic. All I need NOW for this vacation is to get back to the great Empire State and have some trooper pull me over, check the inspection sticker, and whack me with a ticket for an expired inspection. Just the features of DWC – Driving While Chuck.
Anyways, I made it home and called Enterprise once I saw home. I arrived on a Saturday. They told me that my car rental was for two days and that I needed to return it on Sunday.
I informed them that I was driving a car with an expired inspection sticker, and told them I could drop the car off at the Enterprise location in downtown Albany – so that I would be able to return home via CDTA.
“Oh no,” the Enterprise representative said to me. “You have to drop the car off at the Airport.”
Right. No. Better idea.
“I don’t know if you’re aware, the inspection sticker on this rental has expired, and I’ve been driving around with a car that could be pulled over at any moment.”
“Okay,” the representative said. “You can drop it off on Monday at downtown Albany, we’ll give it to you for an extra day.”
Well, this beef blog isn’t primarily about Enterprise. I dropped the car off on Monday, contacted my insurance company for procedures on what to do in this situation, and he informed me that if I saved all my receipts for the trip home, I could turn them in for reimbursement from the other insurance company whose party caused the accident.
Okay. This is where it gets as complicated as calculus.
My accident was caused by three different cars, each with its own policy carrier. The camper in front of me – the one who dropped the bicycles from the rear of the camper and crashed into me – is represented by GEICO. The RV in back of me – who clobbered me at 70 miles per hour and slammed me into the other lane – is represented by The Hartford. And the Ford F-150 – who clobbered me into the guardrail – is represented by USAA.
The first two vehicles – Bicycle Camper and RV 70 MPH – were issued tickets at the accident, for failure to secure load and / or failure to keep proper distance. So I contacted both of those insurance companies.
This is what I received.
From Bicycle Camper’s insurance company – “Mr. Miller, because the RV hit you from behind and crippled your car, we do not feel that we are responsible for your rental car or other expenses. Thank you for contacting GEICO.”
From RV 70 MPH’s insurance company – “Mr. Miller, because the camper in front of you caused the accident in question, we do not feel that we are responsible for your rental car or other expenses. Thank you for contacting The Hartford.”
That’s right. Two insurance companies are playing “Hot Potato” over reimbursing me for $300. And while Allstate (my insurance company) already paid me for what was left of the Blackbird (based on what some girl named Kelly wrote in her blue book, and I don’t think she likes Chevrolets that much), that $300 reimbursement still hung out there like the diseased branch of a tree.
That was three months ago.
In fact, as I write this blog post, the whole matter of remaining reimbursements has gone to insurance arbitration.
This is what bothers me. Two insurance companies whose policyholders caused an accident that destroyed my beloved Blackbird are passing around a $300 reimbursement as if it was printed on malaria-infected paper. I don’t care who pays it – I don’t care if it’s GEICO or the Hartford or even Progressive (as long as Flo shows up with the check), or even if GEICO and the Hartford go Dutch and split the check between them.
All I know is it cost me at least $300 to get home from a very scary car accident.
And I want my $300 back.
I don’t care if the money comes out of a stag’s hide, or if I have to skin a lizard to get it.