Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why I Hate "The Hartford" Insurance Companies

So, on Saturday, May 28th, my SUV was backed into by a driver insured through The Hartford's Small Business auto insurance group. We exchanged information and went about our respective ways. I contacted my insurer to aprise them of the situation. They recommended I contact the other preson's insurer (The Hartford) and file a claim directly with them.

The Hartford, being a customer-service oriented company, doesn't really make themselves available for people to file claims. They only have agents available to open and process claims from 08:00-17:00 Eastern time during the regular business week. So, if you have a day job, you're stuck trying to call them during business hours. If you're like me, this is made difficult by not having predictable access to phones during those hours.

At any rate, the following Tuesday (5/31), I opted to go into work an hour late so that I could call the ass-hats at The Hartford. A little after 08:00, I called in and opened a claim. I was told that an adjuster would contact me within two business days. I informed them that I had limited phone-access, but they assured me that I would be contacted and that, if I wasn't reachable, they'd leave a message. Well, it's now 18 days later and I've yet to hear from an adjuster and there have been no voicemails left at any of my phone numbers. 

I guess I'm a bit spoiled by my insurance company. My insurance company allows one to file and track claims 24/7. Their only real hours limitation is that of individual claims adjusters. While their adjusters' hours are limited by comparison to the overall claims service process, their adjusters are very prompt about returning phone calls or contacting you via alternate means (such as email). Dealing with my insurance company shows how craptacular the service of companies, such as The Hartford's, is.

Interestingly, I opted to call the actual policy holder, Rick's Carpet and Flooring. I spoke with a nice gentleman (Rob, I believe) who told me that The Hartford had told them that they'd already taken care of the issue. I found this rather odd, considering that my vehicle was still not repaired and I had yet to be contacted by a claim's adjuster. Rick's is supposed to call me back, Monday, after they've had a chance to re-engage the Hartford and find out what the heck is up. They're a small, local, family-owned business, so, the solicitousness of their response was about on par with what I expected.

So, it should be interesting to see how this all works out. I may have to delay the start of one of my work days, next week, to try to track down an adjuster from The Hartford. The damage was only slight, but, at this point, it's more one of those "the principal of the thing" exercises.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not How to Start The Weekend

This evening, as I drove home from work, I was thinking to myself, this looks like it could be a great weekend. I'd figured out that the reason why two weeks of my life had been spent troubleshooting a poorly performing system at work was because the standard Linux build didn't include PAE support. Thus, the 16GB-requiring application running on a 32GB system was thrashing the hell out of the host. I'd been able to get the requisite RPMs and shove them through our security process and get the boxes fixed before leaving for the day. All in all, not a bad way to end the week and start the weekend.

I drove home, with the top down, enjoying the beautiful, sunny weather (at least, that's what it was like at 17:00). First indications that my Friday - and possibly the remainder of the weekend - was about to go sideways was that, when I got home, the top to my car wouldn't go back up. So, I popped the rear seat cushion out and used the little allen-wrench thing to reset the top's safety lock. I hit the button and the top returned to the full, upright and closed position. So, no real problem, just a hassle.

Donna had come out to see why I was taking so long to come in. She suggested we pack up the pups and go down to the nearby dog-park. I was a touch leary, since Lady's only been to dog parks two times previous, and both of those with our dog-trainer present. She did pretty well, until a surly scotty dog decided to fuck with her. She didn't go nuts, or anything, but Lady definitely has an unnerving "back the fuck off" snarly-bark. No furball ensued, but, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and we left after a little less than half an hour at the park. One of the downsides of bully-ownership is that, no matter which dog starts it, the bully is seen to be at fault. C`est la vie.

Since we needed more milk and miscellaneous provisions, and it was nearby, we stopped in at Whole Foods. I stayed in the car with the steam engine-sounding, panting dogs while Donna ran in to shop. As I was sitting in the SUV, the thunder clouds started rolling in and the wind was kicking up. By the time Donna came back, the rain was beggining to come down.

We made our way home ...Duke Street to Telegraph Road, then onto Farmington. As usual, car after car was speeding through our neighborhood, using it as the shortcut between Telegraph Road and North Kings Highway. I turned onto Edgehill, on the home stretch to our house. Per usual, the oncoming cars were turning right off of Fort Drive and swinging wide into the oncoming lane - the one we were in. I was well on my side of the center-line of the street. As we were approaching the intersection, I saw a white Chevy utility-van roll the stop-sign and pull wide into our lane. I slowed to a near stop to try to allow him additional buffer to get himself back into our lane. He made no effort to cross back onto his side of the center-line. I sat there helplessly, a matter of seconds stretching into what felt like hours, as he smacked into my left front wheel and scraped the whole way down the side of my SUV. As he scraped by, I watched the mirro fold in and saw pieces of plastic popping off the SUV. I still don't know how the mirror did't get ripped off, given that he hit us hard enough to bend the wheel at the axel-mount and render the SUV undrivable. At least the airbags didn't deploy and the pups stayed well-fastend in their doggy seatbelts (yes, they actually make those - thankfully).

Now, this is the second time, in just about as many weeks, that the SUV has been hit by white utility-vans operated by careless drivers. The first time was two Saturday's ago at the 7Eleven near our house. The fuckwit driving it, a worker for Rick's Carpet & Flooring, had backed into us just as I was reaching for the drivers' door-handle. We'd stopped in on the way to the Saturday farmer's market in Falls Church (they carry Mtn. Dew Throw-back, so, it's a must to stop there). For some reason, he was unable to back out of his parking space without hitting us. It was mostly cosmetic damage, so, when his insurance company failed to return my call after I filed the initial claim, it hadn't been a huge priority to find out where the fuck their adjuster was.

Today's incident was a bit more severe. After waiting nearly an hour and a half for a Fairfax County Police officer to show up, we were able to start the requisite paperwork. In fairness, a hellish storm had just torn through and caused all sorts of havoc on Richmond Highway between the Mt. Vernon police-station and our house - it was just such a departure from the norm where it's usually less than 10 minutes from the time you start your call with the dispatcher till the time they're at your door to find out what's up. The guy was contrite and admitted full fault (and, even if he hadn't, the guy living three houses down from the accident had been working in his front yard and stated he was willing to sign as a witness to the accident). The cop gave him two citations: one for the accident and one for driving an unsafe vehicle (it's citeable, in VA, to drive a vehicle with tires so bald you can see the chording). Unfortunately, while the guy claims he has insurance through Liberty Mutual, he wasn't able to provide proof of such insurance at the scene. In VA, unlike DC, it's not a citeable offense to not be able to provide proof of insurance at the scene of an accident. The officer instructed him to contact me with his insurance info so I could file a claim. The guy claimed he would do so as soon as he got home. Unfortunately, we're now four hours post-accident and two-hours post-citing, and there's been no such phone call. Given that the guy was "self-employed", didn't have the insurance paperwork and was driving a citably unsafe work vehicle, I've the sinking suspicion that this is going to have to be run against my insurance. Thank god I've got USAA.

For now, we're kinda boned. It's not even Saturday and we're kind of limited in what we can do. No dog parks, this weekend. Won't be able to run errands and pick anything up. And, I've got the prospect of dealing with insurance companies and trying to sort out a suitable rental vehicle come Monday. What's more, if the guy does fail to provide insurance or whatever, I'll probably be having to go to court in July when Fairfax brings their case against him. Fmeh.

On the plus side, no one was hurt and we do have good insurance. It's just annyoingly inconvenient.

And, in case you ever are involved in a vehicular incident with Donna's not a pleasant experience. Even with her sole level of involvement being as a passenger - in both cases - she goes completely fucking bonkers on the other drivers. I really worry that if she doesn't start to keep her shit under control, it's going to lead to an unfortunate incident that I really don't want to have to deal with. Talk about need for "anger management" classes... Oy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Disheartening Realization

When Puckett died, after being my pet for slightly less than seven full years, I'd hoped that the rescue we'd gotten him from had been wrong on their age estimate. When we'd brought him home, June of 2004, they'd estimated his age at about 1½ years of age. That would have made him less than nine when he died. As awesome as he was, I didn't want to think that he could have been that young. Knowing that we were the second family to adopt him (he lost his first rescue home when the couple that had adopted him got divorced), I'd sort of assumed that they must have meant he was 1½ years-old when they adopted him. This would have hopefully meant he was at least two years old, possibly over three years old when he came into our home. This would have meant he was nine or ten when we put him down at the beginning of April. Either age would still have been to young, too short a life for such a great dog, but, still: better than nine.

Recently, we adopted a new dog. It had taken about two months to find a dog that both said, "hey, you really want to take me home" and was cat compatible. The only other dog that said "take me home" pretty much failed pre-adoption cat testing. Ultimately, we found an AmBull/Pitbull-mix that both said "take me home" and gets along with cats. This is her:

A Pet ConFab

She and Grumbles frequently share my couch with each other. Basically, if I'm home, they're both on my couch with me

The other thing you might notice, if you've read prior posts on her predecessor, is that the sorta resembles Puckett. That was an accident, more than anything. I wasn't looking for a Puckett-clone. And, personality-wise, while both are/were very happy dogs, they are more different than just their gender and breed-mixes. I don't have any temptation to call out "Puckett" when I really mean her (closest I came to that was a reflex response to Donna screaming at me, "call your dog!" when she was being under-foot in the kitchen: my programmed response, after years of such entreaties was, "PUCKETT!").

When we adopted her, the rescue had her name listed as "Miss Lady". In reality, she didn't really know she had a name. However, she's very much not a lady, so, I kept the "Lady" part of the name mostly for its irony-value. She's just in recent days started responding to it as though she understands "oh, when they say 'Lady' they mean me." She's only ten months old and is still very much a puppy in her actions and outlook on the world. Seeing this puppyishness and remebering back to when we got Puckett, it becomes evident that Puckett died on the wrong side of nine years old.