What a month of swings and roundabouts its been! It's good at times like these to immerse yourself in the Forum and know you're not alone. Just as you're think to yourself 'Am I ever going to get anywhere? Is there ever going to be an end to the disasters?' you come across someone else who is wondering just the same and somehow it just makes you feel better. For example, I've been having some right old fun and games with my insurance company over my car. You know, the dear little purple one I bought just a few months ago? You may remember me saying a little while back that someone ran out in front of me coming home at night and I hit a street sign swerving to avoid him. The police told me there was no need to make a formal report as the chance of catching the guy was basically zero and insurance should be pretty straightforward considering the white paint and post-shaped indentation on my car bonnet. Unfortunately not so. Although I had already given two audio statements, one in person to the claims investigator, with all the details he needed, including the policeman I spoke to, the friends I was with and the site of the accident, he saw fit to take matters into his own hands and do his own 'detective work'. In a follow-up visit a few weeks later, I was accused of 1) lying, 2) drunk driving, 3) causing a different accident elsewhere, where someone else had a brown, unpainted fence taken out 200 metres up the road and two streets away from where I was. He even told me I had been seen intoxicated in a place I hadn't set foot in for more than six months! He would listen to no reason and told me very bluntly that if I was found to be lying the company would no longer agree to insure me. He left me feeling absolutely dreadful - a second class citizen of questionable character - and I had done nothing wrong! Still, I felt I was powerless against this bloke. He had obviously drawn his own conclusions and there was no way he was going to listen to me, even though I was able to prove that I was not in the establishment he said I was. I figured there was no choice except wait to hear that my claim had been declined and no doubt I would have to try and find a new insurance company to boot.
But wait, it gets better! More than a month passed and I had heard nothing from the insurance company. Not able to afford the repairs myself I resigned myself to permanently driving a car with a tattooed bonnet. Still - at least it was driveable! Until I dropped Ali and his friend off one afternoon and as I drove away a chap in a great big ute reversed down the driveway opposite and backed straight into me, taking out my entire passenger door. Thank heavens the kids had just got out of it! The bloke was most apologetic but obviously not worried, believing our insurance companies would take care of it. I on the other hand was devastated. This was a major - it was going to cost thousands of dollars, my car was undriveable thanks to further damage underneath - and what was the insurance company going to say? I was almost in tears when I rang them the next day. The lady on the phone was lovely and my claim was almost immediately accepted - but they couldn't do anything about it until the previous one had been sorted and that was still in dispute. I felt beaten. The way things were going, I was going to be carless forever! At times like these there's only one thing a girl can do and that's ring her mum. Mum, as always the voice of reason told me to ring my insurance broker (who also happened to be my mortgage broker, the wonderful Glenn Larsen who got me my house). He has since changed jobs but told me he was always still available for advice and so I took him up on it. He told me, as did Mum that this investigator chap was being nothing but a big old bully trying to test me and that there was no way he could decline my claim based on assumption and with no real evidence. This sort of treatment wasn't what I'd been loyally paying my premiums for 15 years for! They told me to stand my ground and make a complaint.
So once again I rang the claims office and explained the situation regarding the first claim. The same lovely lady on the phone informed me who would be dealing with my claim and asked if I would like to speak to her. I did so and she was very sympathetic and helpful, assuring me a decision would be reached as soon as possible. I felt slightly better - but I wanted to make sure all my points were clearly heard and explained. So I wrote the officer an email. Now I'm not someone who generally complains - not to shops, companies or anything like that, I'm the type to just let things go. But I finally realised that I had rights and I was darn well going to be assertive for once! I made all my points as clearly as I could, provided as much information as possible and stressed that I knew the other man was just trying to do his job but he was barking up the wrong tree with me and I really didn't appreciate it. Two days later I received a phone call from the claims assessor to say my claim had been accepted! I'd complained, I'd stood up for myself for once in my blooming life and it WORKED! I was no longer Penny the Pushover! Ohh the relief, you cannot imagine, I wore an idiotic grin for two whole days! And yesterday I finally picked up my beautifully restored little car from the panel beater. Unfortunately I didn't have the $600 excess handy to pay the insurance company for both claims so once again my mum came to the rescue and she will be added to my list of monthly bills to pay. One thing is for sure though, I won't be scared to stand up for myself again. I'm sure some of you will be reading this and thinking 'Daft moo, it's our basic rights as consumers!' but there are an awful lot of other people out there like me, who don't speak up, let themselves get walked over and always seem to be the ones forking out the money. But not any more, woohoo!