Before I start this long diatribe perhaps a summary would prevent people from making a poor decision. I *was* a State Farm customer. I chose to use State Farm for both home owners insurance and flood insurance. One of State Farm’s auto insurance customers , collided with my vehicle on February 7th, 2011. They admitted fault to the police officers that came to the scene. They also admitted fault to State Farm. State Farm failed to “own up.” To put it nicely, they let me down. To put it harshly, pardon the expletives, I got bent over and fucked by State Farm. This led to my belief that State Farm can not be relied upon when push comes to shove. I moved my home owners insurance and flood insurance to Liberty Mutual. I suggest you avoid State Farm and seek alternatives for your insurance needs. While I hope you never need to make a claim, State Farm will likely attempt to weasel out of making a full payment and you will be left like I was, spending your own money to rectify a situation that State Farm was responsible for in the first place.
At this point my story begins….
On February 7th, 2011 I was on my way from work. I was on McGaw Road in Columbia, MD. McGaw Road is 4-5 lanes across depending on turn lanes. I was in the left lane of a four-lane road. A car was slightly ahead of me in the right lane. This car chose to execute a U-Turn from the far right lane. I swerved left to avoid contact but ended up striking the other car on the drivers side between the quarter panel and the driver’s-side door.
Both of my airbags deployed. Seeing as I was in the middle of the road and unhurt, aside from a bruised leg, I moved out of the way of traffic, took me about 30 seconds. I jumped out and ran to the other car. I was met by a gentleman who immediately informed me he had been drinking but was not driving.
Hmmmm… why would the first words out of someone’s mouth, someone who was not driving, been an admission of drinking? As a person involved in an accident my first thought was “are you OK, how is the other person still in the car?” Regardless of his suspicious behavior, which continued in front of the police officers later, and lack of concern for my health, he told me they were both fine.
I asked if the vehicle was drivable and if they could move the car out of the path of traffic. After much convincing, he understood the
need and asked the “driver” to move to a nearby parking lot.
Long story short, police show up, the “driver” admits fault and tells the policy officer she executed a U-turn from the right lane. We exchange insurance information, or rather the police exchange it for us. Now begins the story with State Farm.
I arrive home that night and call my insurance company. I tell them the story including the fact that she admitted fault. They told me I had two options: call the other insurance company myself or they could handle the claim for me. I wasn’t sure what the other driver would state with respect to fault with State Farm. So I elected to call State Farm so I could plead me case if necessary. I should have chosen option B.
I wait on hold for two hours, that’s right, two fucking hours. Finally I hang up and call back. This time I get through rather quickly. They blame the hold time on a technical issue with the phone system. OK, I work with computers, I understand random “technical issues” and somewhat blame myself for waiting two hours before hanging up and trying again.
After a short conversation explaining the circumstances, assuring the person I’m only bruised (re-> I will not be seeking medical claims), I am told the other driver already contacted State Farm and admitted fault. Thank !!! This sounded like an ideal outcome, no one hurt and the other person accepts blame. Now I just need to get my car fixed.
The next day I get a ride into work from a friend. Then I call back State Farm.
State Farm offers to cover a rental car, which I accept. I am feeling pretty good about this. Then I pick up my rental. My rental is a complete piece of shit. I’m a proud driver of a spotless vehicle. I’m not used to driving a car with an interior that looks like someone covered it with ashes from a bond fire. And I travel a lot for business, and sorry Enterprise, but this is the dirtiest rental car I have driven. But I suck it up, I mean it is only dirt and I can at least get from point A to point B. Then I’m also told State Farm will not cover insurance on the rental. If my own insurance doesn’t cover rentals, I’m on my own. Thinking of my recent bad luck with cars, I bite, and end up paying $125 over 7 days for insurance on a rental car I wouldn’t have needed if State Farm’s customer hadn’t made a random U-turn. State Farm refused to cover this additional insurance. An insurance company refusing to cover insurance, ironic eh? Apparently State Farm doesn’t think so.
OK, I’ve got my dirty ride that I’m paying to insure. State Farm offers to tow the car. I have it towed about 400 yards down the road to a shop that they work with. They do an estimate.
Then I receive a very disappointing phone call. I speak to Mark Walthour, a Claim Representative at 1-888-613-3966 x6205600. He is very professional, one of the few pleasant experiences I had. He informs me my car is considered at total loss as the repairs would cost $8,400. He makes an offer for about $9,000. I immediately decline the offer and for more time to consider my options. If you have seen my car, the condition is was in, you would have chosen to explore your alternatives as well. I am told by Mark that they will cover a rental for 7 days. Great, I have 7 days to find a new car. Very nice of you State Farm. Your customer fucks up and you give me 7 days to deal with it. To quote the letter, “State Farm Insurance Companies will not reimburse either you or the facility for storage charges after February 17, 2011, and will not reimburse you for rental coverage incurred after February 15, 2011.”
There is a gleam of hope however as the letter also stated that Maryland requires insurance companies to consider counteroffers based on dealer quotations, advertisements, or another source of valuation. Yeah, they pretty much just pasted that into the letter as it was required by law. They did not entertain any offers. The value they gave the vehicle stated about, $9,000, was a low-ball offer without taking into consideration the condition or modifications to the vehicle that would increase the value.
I sent in receipts of vehicle modifications totally more than $2,000. Now I understand that modifications can either increase or decrease the value. They gave me $600 for the enhancements. Thus my new offer was $9,600.
I sent in numerous advertisements both at the low-end of the pricing spectrum, $9,999, and at the high-end, $11,698. They politely declined all of these competitive offers. As I stated above, I believe they copied the Maryland law into the offer letter as lip service only, I fully believe State Farm has no intention of honoring such competitive offers.
OK, so this has already taken about 10 hours of my time to deal with. If I was to bill them for that time at “competitive rates” that would have cost them $2,000.
I realize if I get a lawyer, at “competitive rates,” that would cost me more than settling for $9,600. So I agree to settle. But I don’t want a new car. I have a lot of time and effort put into that car. I know the repair history. I don’t want a car payment. I don’t want a different car. I want my car back. So I ask Mark if I can purchase the car back from State Farm. They agree, but it will cost me $1,700 of the settlement value. So now I’m down to $7,900 for a car worth about $10,000.
So I buy the car back and pay to have it fixed. They find more damage, some probably pre-existing, some from the accident they missed. I pay $9,500 for get it fixed. Now I have a totalled title meaning my car is worthless from a resale perspective, paid $1,600 of my own money to get my car back, and wasted $2,000 of my own time dealing with the results of an accident caused by their customer.
So why is this article entitled “State Farm’s Poor Business Practices?” Because they chose to lose a potential lifelong customer, and gain an enemy, as opposed to resolving an issue they, as an insurance company, should have resolved in its’ entirety. I had my home owners and flood insurance through State Farm. Until now. And even knowing that they would lose me as a customer they chose to screw me. That is poor business practice.
Thanks State Farm for fucking me. Hopefully this article will educate others and provide insight into why State Farm sucks and should not be relied upon as an insurance company.
 Tayneka Galloway – sorry but you cost me $1,500 of my hard earned money and deserve this call out for being an unapologetic person. You fail to understand the reason why people should check their mirrors prior to executing a U-Turn from the right lane of a 4-lane road. Your lack of intelligence with respect to driving is nothing short of amazing. While you admitted fault you failed to apologize. Had you apologized, your name would not be present in this article.