I got to see behind the scenes of something yesterday I shouldn’t have seen. Strange happenings and monetary inflation were viewed through wonder-filled eyes as I found out that my car, which had slight hail damage and a bumped front fender, had cost 4 times the original estimate the Geico claims adjuster had given me.
“Believe me, we’ve billed much higher supplements,” the clerk at CARS, Inc., on Callahan Rd. in Knoxville, TN told me reassuringly. I bet they had. The original estimate was for $2,300 bucks in damage repair. My brother told me that was high and he thought he could have gotten it done cheaper than that. I met the GEICO claims adjuster at CARS, so I just figured they were a trusted vendor and known to do good jobs for GEICO..
My red flag went up when I picked up the car. It looked really good and for that I cannot complain. I was signing some documents for CARS and the last one promised that if I got a check from GEICO, I would immediately forward it to CARS.
“Why would GEICO send me another check?” I had already been paid from my insurance company what seemed like a lot of money.
“Sometimes we have to bill a supplemental amount of work to the insurance company,” the clerk reassured me. “Sometimes, they accidentally send it to the owner of the car instead of us. This is just a precaution.”
Since the car was finished, this begged the question: “So did the work come to more than first estimated?”
“Oh yeah,” the clerk said.
“So how much was it,” I asked, puzzled.
“The final bill is $8,100.” I was floored. How had the GEICO claims adjuster missed the mark by $6,000? I couldn’t sign the form. It seemed like something really fishy was going on here. I made the clerk wait and called GEICO. They sent me to someone else up the chain there, who told me, Yes, sometimes there is more damage than initially estimated. She said it wouldn’t affect me, my rate wouldn’t change, it being an act of God and a hail storm.
Didn’t GEICO care that CARS is gouging them for another $6,000? Why is there no responsibility on the behalf of GEICO? If I was paying out of pocket, I would be furious, but since I wasn’t, I signed the front of my folder at CARS that said I would forward them any check from GEICO, got in my car and left.
As I turned the situation over and over in my head, I kept wondering what I had just witnessed. Insurance Fraud? Palm Greasing? Maybe this is why our economy is in such a mess: companies with shady little scams they run to make massive profits. The car’s only worth $18,000, or it was when it was new. If I had known it would have cost $8,100 to fix it, I just would have taken that money and paid it towards my balance, almost paying off half of the car’s note. I could have lived with the slight hail damage and fender bump.
As I left CARS, I noticed the owner getting in a Lexus parked in the handicapped spot out front and leaving. Maybe I should call Don Dare, I thought, then decided against it. After all, they had done a damned fine job.