Pros: Agent who sells the policy, website, and low rates
Cons: Claims representatives, slow to pay legitimate claims
I've been an Allstate customer for over 5 years. I chose the company because of the lowest rates for me at the time. There were new car, good driver, and multi-policy discounts. Allstate also used my credit score to lower my rates. I was happy with the individual agent I purchased by policy with as well. My policy had the most coverage available as I wanted to be fully protected if I ever was involved in an accident.
Allstate has a website where you can view your policy, make changes and pay your premiums online. It has been very convenient. I liked paying my premiums with a credit card. But premiums could be paid online with a debit card or a transfer from a bank. There is also a 1-800 number for 24 hour service.
Recently, I learned that the lowest price policy means you get what you pay for. I was in a car accident and my car was badly damaged and I was mildly hurt in the accident. I contacted Allstate shortly after the accident and started the claims process.
I called my local agent, but was told they dont handle claims and to call the 800 number. The 800 number took my information and two days later a local claims representative called me with my claim number. She also told me that an inspector would look at my car and gave me the name of my medical representative. She informed me that my car would be looked at 5 days after the accident.
I had no further contact with the claims representative as she was never in the office and never returned her phone calls. My calls then got forwarded to whoever was in the office.
The 800 number people told me I could view the claims process on the Allstate website. So this is where I was able to see the status of my car and what payments were made. The website was very easy to use.
I was never in a car accident before and had a lot of questions about the process. It seemed like every phone call to the local claims office was handled by another person. This was when I could get in touch with an Allstate representative. I left a lot of voice messages and they were rarely returned. I soon climbed the hierarchy of claims people and eventually the individual at the top was prompt in returning calls and could get something accomplished.
After my car was inspected by the Allstate agent, I was told that it wasn't 75% damaged and would be repaired. (In North Carolina, the state has decided that if a vehicle's repairs are more than 75% of the actual value of the vehicle, then the vehicle is considered a total loss.) The estimate was $800 short of 75% and this was just a visual estimate. I guess they never calculated what further damage might be discovered.
I was also told that I needed to find a repair shop quickly as almost a week had gone by since my accident. I was persuaded to use an Allstate repair shop. Little did I know at the time that these repair shops contract out business with the insurance company to cheaply repair the vehicles. Whether the vehicle gets repaired to the condition it was in before the accident or is safe to drive is another story.
The repair shop called me a day later and told me they were going to get back car fixed up. The new estimate was $2100 less than Allstate's which had me concerned. I never heard from the shop again until they called and told me my car was ready.
When I went to pick the car up, there were supplements to the original estimate that made the repairs more than the Allstate estimate. They told me they hadn't painted the damaged bumper yet and to bring the car back the next week for that to get fixed.
The day my vehicle was "ready", it broke down less than an hour later as a wire damaged in the accident was overlooked. The wire connected the battery to the alternator so the car had been running on just the battery. I knew there was a problem as my car could no longer reach 55mph and was very noisy. Before the accident, I could go from 0-60 in 4 seconds.
This is where my problems with Allstate started. At first the repair shop and Allstate told me it was a coincidence that the car broke down right after I regained control. They told me it drove right when they had it.
Upon further inspection of the car, a headlight was attached with gel; parts were missing; work was not completed; the interior of the car was damaged by the repair shop; and it was just a sloppy job. An example was a problem with the windshield wipers being reversed on the car. The larger wiper needed to be on the driver's side to clear the whole window.
Getting the bad repairs fixed and my car safe to drive was a difficult process. Allstate told me the repair shop says the car is fine to drive. I requested that Allstate come look at the vehicle and it took two weeks for someone in that department to contact me and another week for him to come look at the car.
The Allstate agent was scheduled to arrive 10am-12pm. He arrived at 3:30pm. He agreed that the work was badly done and told me it would need to go back to the repair shop to be fixed. I was also told that a lot of people try to scam insurance companies and that they hadn't believed me about my car.
In the meantime, I learned some valuable lessons from the experience and useful laws. If the repairs exceed 75% of the value of the car, the car is declared a total loss and the insurance company must issue a check for the value of the car before the accident.
The repairs on my vehicle went beyond the value of the vehicle so when I brought this fact to Allstate's attention they told me some repairs were a "courtesy" and not included in the 75%. I was told that I didn't have my facts straight; that my second opinion was a bad quality shop. When I requested the reasoning for this in writing, a week later the car was considered totaled.
A week later, I called Allstate as they never contacted me about making arrangements for the check or coming to get the vehicle. The person I spoke with told me there was no record of any of this and would be in touch in three days. I called someone else within three hours and started the process. They came and got the car the next day but I am still awaiting the check.
The medical claims were no better with Allstate. I have $100,000 in medical coverage. I had $312 in medical bills and sent the copy of my bills in after I received them. I even gave Allstate access to my medical history so they could quickly verify there wasn't any pre-existing condition. I was expecting a check immediately from them. But after a month, I contacted the claims representative. She never returned my phone call so I sent in a letter to be reimbursed. Then I contacted the state department of insurance fraud. Two months later, my doctor finally received payment for my medical bills. I am wondering if my bills would have been paid at all if the state hadnt stepped in.
I am currently shopping for a new insurance company. I don't care to repeat my Allstate incident with another company so I am researching my options. I have a feeling that all insurance companies do their best not to pay. I am paying for excellent coverage but what good is the coverage if the insurer refuses to pay legitimate claims in a timely manner.
I am disturbed by the way Allstate treated me, and the fact that if I hadnt done my homework and learned the laws or had my car inspected for a second opinion, they'd have me driving around in an unsafe vehicle. I wonder how many individuals give up on the fight and stop pursing their valid claims.