Checks and Balances

Last month I got a dunning notice from my car insurance company. It said that while my payment was due on the first and they received it on the first, my insurance was being cancelled because it may take a couple of days for my bank to clear the payment. Hold that thought.

I made an error on my apartment payment this month because they instituted a new payment system that charges horrendous fees for using it and it is a violation of our lease agreement. This is a high-end place and we pay dearly to live here but the garage is leaking and ruining our cars and everything is extra. Park? Extra. Pet? Extra per month.

They cashed the check for less than the amount due, an error on my part partially because I haven’t written a check in nearly ten years but will not pay extra for their scheme. Legally I shouldn’t have to pay for the number I missed because of dyslexia or old age, but morally I stepped up to the plate and addressed the issue the moment I learned of it, with a note of apology.

Back to insurance. I was doing insurance analyst work for a state legislature many years ago and sent my car insurance payment in to my broker back home a few days before it was due. The check came back with a brokers’ office stamp that it had been received by the office on the first, the due date. The bank stamp says it was deposited on the 2nd (before internet banking) and a cancellation notice went out that day.

I received the notice by mail two days later that my car insurance was gone and was new at this insurance business but learned a lot that day. Like there was a 15 day grace period in my state. I called my broker and he had his secretary (before they were called administrative assistants) tell me he was in a meeting or out of the office six times. It was a town with one flashing stop light, and just the two of them in that office.

One of the few perks of a job that paid next to nothing and let me work alongside fellow bright youngsters was the occasional legislative reception. Free food! That night was for insurance so I was invited. I shook hands with the Insurance Commissioner who I’d known as a lobbyist several months beforehand. He asked what was wrong.

The car insurance debacle was explained. He laughed and said he wanted to deal with this one personally. The Commissioner gave me his private number, asked me to call his secretary in the morning and give him the information.

Later the next morning the Commissioner gave me a call and said I should be expecting a call from my car insurance broker but it may be a few minutes because he may have soiled his trousers. He then said it was the most fun phone call he ever made.

A while later the broker called me and asked what the problem was, that my insurance was never cancelled and why would I even think it had been cancelled? It must be a billing error, so sorry Miss. He never knew that I knew the Commissioner and never told me he’d called. I don’t think my rates went up much after that incident.

Last month GEICO, owned by one of my favorite entrepreneurs, sent me a cancellation email because my payment, due on the 1st and paid online by phone at their offices for immediate authorization, was paid on the 1st. The reason for cancellation was that our banks now hang on to payments for a day or two to get the “float.”

I looked up our state’s insurance laws and there is a ten day grace period. I called in, talked to a supervisor and our car insurance was no longer cancelled. In school they call these tactics to scare long-term customers bullying. It is in the adult world as well. Fight injustice. Don’t let it get you down, just think through it and find the best way to right things. It is your words and your voice that will make a difference for all.

I learned the hard way. Read and learn, dear reader. It’s nasty out there with hail and rain and thunder. My sweet car has been beaten up enough by calcium deposits from the garage roof not to take her out today. I’ll wait for a break in the storm and run to the grocery store for dinner. The sun is trying to peek out amidst heavy rain and hail. Time to run! Dee




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