Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I Saved $1800 and My Sanity by Switching FROM Esurance

Like many other Americans, when it came time to insure my vehicles, I hopped online to get quotes from several mega-brokers. After comparing rates and coverage, I opted for a policy with Esurance.

I have been a client with Esurance on and off since 2006, with some breaks in which I ventured elsewhere, but kept coming back for the low rates.

Even when I had an accident (well, actually, okay... two accidents) and my premiums understandably went up, I stayed right where I was, thinking I couldn't get better rates anywhere else.

It was, then, a shock when -- after years of patronage at Esurance -- the company decided I was potentially lying about what state I lived in.

Wait... what? Why would a person lie to their insurance company about what state they live in?

According to an Esurance representative:
Unfortunately, there are many situations where people are less than honest about where they live. Sometimes it's due to not wanting to pay a higher rate, sometimes it's because they didn't want to change their registration. Since we're an internet company, we use the public records to try and obtain some information to ensure we're charging the correct rates (higher or lower).
Supposedly, "public records" suggested I might be actually living in Oregon, as a person with the name "Christina Marie Wright," with "Marie" being the middle name, turned up in a public records search.

The logical conclusion, of course, is that I was living in Oregon under the name "Christina Marie Wright." Right?

Here's the problem... My first name is "Christina-Marie." My middle name is "Johnson." So, I am not Christina M. Wright, but, rather, Christina-Marie J. Wright. Not really the same, is it?

So, I simply explained that it wasn't me, and went on with my life.

Then, I received a notice informing me that my policy was scheduled to be terminated, as there was a question of where my "vehicles are being garaged."

Confession: My garage is too full of crap to actually park a car in there, but my vehicles are parked at my residence in Washington state, and I told them so.

My report wasn't good enough. They needed me to prove my vehicles weren't spending their nights at some house in the wilds of Oregon. Ummmm... okay? I invited them to come on over to my house, and visit my vehicles in their natural resting place, but they declined. Instead, they wanted documentation.

My vehicle registration? Nope... that just shows where the cars are registered. My driver's license? Nah... that just shows what address I used when I obtained my identification. Those things, according to Esurance, are not "proof" that I am not living in Oregon with my vehicles.

They wanted a phone bill. I sent one, but they rejected it, because it's in our business name, doesn't include a landline, and is mailed to my post office box.

They wanted a power bill. I sent one, showing the service address at my residence, but they rejected it, because it was mailed to my post office box.

They wanted a gas bill. I don't have gas, so I couldn't provide one.

Here's what I did provide to them:

A deed to my house -- rejected, because it only shows that I bought the place, not that I am living there.

My mortgage statement -- rejected, because although it shows my name, the property address, and is mailed to my street address at said property, they "don't have a box to check" to record it as proof that I am who I say I am, and I live where I say I live.

THEY DON'T HAVE A BOX TO CHECK.

They don't have a box to check, so my policy was scheduled to be terminated yesterday. In a panic, Mr. Wright contacted the agent who handles our homeowner's policy. In no time, our guy, Tim, had a new policy with similar coverage for us --- at a savings of $1,800 per year.

I whined a bit about the ridiculousness of the whole fiasco on Facebook, and even shared a link to the post on the Esurance Facebook page.

Today, they got in touch with me, asking me to provide my policy number, so they could "have an underwriting supervisor give your policy a second look." Hmmmm... Okay. I'll bite. If nothing else, I thought, maybe I would at least have the vindication of having them review the details, and realize how foolish the whole thing was.

Nope.

  • Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright


    My policy number is PAWA 00457****.
    Your company has already canceled my policy, since I couldn't "prove" where I live.
  • Esurance
    10/20, 11:21am
    Esurance


    Thank you for following up.
    Unfortunately, there are many situations where people are less than honest about where they live. Sometimes it's due to not wanting to pay a higher rate, sometimes it's because they didn't want to change their registration. Since we're an internet company, we use the public records to try and obtain some information to ensure we're charging the correct rates (higher or lower).
    We understand that not everyone is in an ideal situation to provide certain documents. However, we will ask that our underwriting supervisor contact you to discuss this in more detail and hopefully shed some light on what is/was needed and to ensure we're asking for all the correct documents.
  • Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright
    10/20, 11:31am
    Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright


    I was told I could provide ONLY one of the following three:
    1. Power bill 2. Gas bill 3. Phone bill
    My power bill goes to my post office box, so it was rejected.
    I don't get a gas bill.
    My phone service is only wireless, and it's in our business name, so it was rejected.
    I offered my mortgage statement (emailed it), which has my name, and is sent to my address. It wasn't accepted as "proof" of my residence -- only that I own the home.
    I submit to you that I could own the home, pay the power bill, have my mail sent to the street address, and STILL NOT LIVE THERE.
    In this case, I DO live at my residence, but what is most frustrating is that I am the ONLY person in the United States with MY name.
    This is a case of me having to prove I'm not someone who doesn't even have the same legal name as me.
    Really?
  • Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright
    12:04pm
    Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright


    It's very frustrating that any public record which is being relied upon to claim I might be lying about my residence would not be accepted as proof that I am not.
    Example:
    Voter registration.
    Esurance: "Ooooh... There's a person in Oregon with a different name that is similar enough for concern, registered to vote in that state."
    Christina-Marie Wright: "That's not me. Here is MY voter registration, in Washington."
    Esurance: "Ummmm... We can't accept that as proof of residence. But we CAN accept the Oregon one as proof you are lying."
    Power bills, phone bills, gas bills... None of those are public record, yet they are the only "proof" I live where I do, while at the same time, they can't possibly be the basis for the claim that I am lying.
    Why not ask this girl in Oregon for HER power bill, so YOU can prove she is not me?
    OR, here's another idea... Send her my premium billings, and see if she protests that she isn't me.
    I live in a rural area. Many people don't have street mail delivery at all.
    Many people are on solar power, and don't have landline telephones. They don't have power, gas or phone bills.
    What do you do with those people?
    I am an author and public figure. I have very little mail delivered to my street address, to protect my family. Instead, I use a post office box 35 miles away. Again, for my family's protection.
    I used to think that having a policy with Esurance was one more way to protect my family, but I was clearly wrong.
  • Esurance
    10/20, 12:55pm
    Esurance


    We appreciate the information, Christina-Marie. We have reviewed your posts and policy information. We do apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced during this process. We will be escalating this information up to have our process reviewed.
    Based on your policy, and your posts, it appears that you have acquired new coverage that seems to better suit your needs and budget. Therefore, we do want to see if there is anything further that we can do for you regarding your policy with us. Again, we do apologize for your experience with us. Unfortunately, we do have underwriting guidelines we have to follow.
  • Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright
    1:21pm
    Christina-Marie GonzoMama Wright


    We obtained other coverage because our policy was scheduled to be terminated yesterday. If we had waited for Esurance to resolve this matter, we would have been without insurance, and in violation of our state law.
    You left us no choice but to look elsewhere.
    You do have underwriting guidelines to follow. Okay. As I understand it, your "underwriting guidelines" mandate that someone must endure the burden of proving they are not, in fact, someone with a different name than theirs. Why is the burden not upon your company to actually vet the information you claim to have uncovered?
    Do all of your clients have to do that?
    Does my friend, Yesenia Rodriguez in Florida, have to prove she is not Yvonne Rodriguez in Colorado? After all, they do have the same initials and last name... Maybe they could be the same person!
    In my case, as in the imaginary case above, we are talking about a person with a different name.
    My First Name: Christina-Marie Mystery Oregon Woman's: Christina
    My Middle Name: Johnson Mystery Oregon Woman's: Marie
    Our Coincidentally Mutual Last Name: Wright
    THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED.
    Is there more you can do for me?
    Yes. Yes, there is.
    Please... bring someone on staff who has the common sense to infer that a different name may, in fact, indicate a wholly different person.
    Please... stop bullying your clients.
    Stop making it impossible for said clients to prove who they *aren't.*
    Act like a business... One which values their clients, listens to their circumstances, and doesn't refuse to deal with them when they don't fit into a tiny little "checkbox" scenario -- one which has been created by YOUR company.
    There was a time in this country when a business would actually try to earn the patronage of clients.
    Thankfully, many small businesses still do.
    However, when a business becomes large enough to morph into an overgrown, tantrum-prone beast, it is time for Americans to snap shut their wallets and go back to basics, starting over with small businesses who still care enough to learn our names.
    Thank you for the stark reminder.

"Oh, well... looks like you already found someone else to take care of you, so... never mind."

How about you? Have you ever had the opportunity for a rude awakening, which led you back to basics? Were you grateful for it?

Would you like to join me in a mass-exodus from mega-brokers like Esurance? Ask your networks for local recommendations, then make the switch, and tell me all about it in the comments! 

Share, share, share, so others can celebrate their freedom from tantrum-prone big business beasts, as well. 

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