Saturday, April 18, 2009

Amica and Renter's Insurance

So it's 2AM on Saturday morning, I've just finished watching a terrible movie (Love, Honour and Obey, a BBC flick that came out in 2000), and I remember that a friend of mine told me to get renter's insurance.

Not being a materialistic type of person, I don't own that much expensive stuff, so I never bothered with renter's insurance. Well, as it turns out, renter's insurance is helpful because it also contains other components, like liability insurance. As my friend said, if you are walking and you accidentally bump an old lady into the street, causing her to die, your personal assets are at risk. That's where renter's insurance apparently comes in, to protect your personal assets. (Note: I do not own a home; otherwise, homeowner's insurance may have covered me.) It all seems counter-intuitive, but I guess it makes sense in the crazy world of insurance.

My friend recommended buying renter's insurance from my auto insurer to get a discount, but I decided to go with a different company. My auto insurer is Progressive, and they're not known for anything other than auto insurance. He also recommended buying an umbrella policy, but I forgot about that.

Anyway, I go online to find a good insurance company, and I stumble upon this website:

I find that Chubb and Amica have good rankings (I'm not eligible for USAA, and Erie reminds me too much of a Civ Pro case), and I go with Amica. I log onto their website and use Amica's "live chat" feature. I get this great customer service rep who guides me through the process. Throughout the whole exchange, I am thinking, "This is great. It's almost 3:00AM right now, and this guy is alert and on the ball." Because of the time difference, I thought maybe the customer service rep was in India. At the end of the whole thing, I ask where he's from. Turns out he's from Spokane, WA.

Here's the exchange:

Matt: Given the time diff, I assume you're in India. What part of India are you in?

Matt: Gu[j]arat?

Joseph N.: Spokane, WA.

Matt: Oh, wow.

Matt: Very cool.

Joseph N.: We do it the hard way, graveyard, old fashioned right?

Matt: No wonder your English was perfect :-)

Matt: Damn good customer service, buddy.

Joseph N.: Thank you! We have people for you 24/7, so if you ever want to look at switching your auto let us know ;)

Joseph N.: I appreciate it!

Matt: Don't stay up too late. Have a good night.

Matt: Bye.

Joseph N.: You as well, goodbye.

I've always wondered if outsourcing customer service results in less overall quality. Of course, it depends on the individual, but perhaps there's something to be said for encouraging live, domestic customer service. I ended up buying the policy. I pay by credit card on Monday.

Oh, I learned a new word, too: "binding." A verbal confirmation of insurance coverage is called "binding"--as in, "I can bind the policy effective today." Who knew?

I am off to bed.

Update: the NYT just had an interesting article on insurance:

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