Friday, September 3, 2010

The Joy of Insurance

As we all rationally know, moving and separation generate a metric fuckton of busywork. I rationally knew that too, but I am still surprised by its sheer magnitude in one particular area: phone calls to companies. In the last two months, I have called the gas company, electric company, Verizon (which warranted its own post and has since necessitated further phone calls), Toyota Financial Services, Chase bank, and a few others. I have heard a year's worth of bad hold music and talked to countless cheery women with generic phone voices. Most of them have been very nice; all of them have been incredibly accommodating as soon as I drop the "separation" bomb. Most of the phone calls don't deserve posts, but this morning, I feel like passing on my experience with the USAA insurance people.

USAA is for military people and their families. I am an actor who would never even dream of joining the armed forces, so I really shouldn't have access to the cheap insurance they offer. However, my grandpa was in the Navy, so he had it. My grandpa had it, so my mom had it. My mom had it, so I have it. Anyway, my car and renter's insurance are through them, which put them on my long list of companies to call.

I tried to do what I needed online when I was uncaffeinated and barely awake. Clearly, that was doomed to fail for multiple reasons, including the fact that it is impossible to do what I needed to do on the website (make myself the only the person on the auto policy). So, I called the 800 number at 9-ish and jumped through their automated hoops only to be told that the office is closed. Ok, that's confusing. It's 9 am on a Friday. Why would they be closed? The little automated message didn't explain, so it was back to the website for investigation time.

Turns out, the office is open 7am-7pm based on the area code of the phone from which you're dialing. I've had the same cell phone number since I was 18 and lived in the 310 area code of California. Therefore, it didn't matter that it was 9 here in Virginia because it was 6 to my phone. Great. Now, I've got an hour to kill...

Enter a cup of coffee, lemon poppyseed muffin, and reruns of NewsRadio on Netflix instant. Ok, hour killed. I called back at 9:58, figuring the automated hoops would take 2 minutes. They took a minute and a half, and I was told the office was closed again. Really? I murmured at the phone about how 30 seconds was hardly worth making me call again and redialed. This time, I actually got through to someone, told them the whole issue, and was transferred to a "specialist". Here's the thing I love about USAA: when an operator transfers you to someone else, they actually tell the next person what your situation is so that the customer doesn't have to launch into the same story over and over. That right there is customer service.

The "specialist" told me that she'd do all the insurance stuff with me and then transfer me to a financial adviser who would discuss my "life change" with me and make sure I'd thought of everything. I'm kind of a detail-oriented person, so I wasn't sure that was needed but I figured I'd go with it. The actual insurance policy stuff was pretty simple. The "specialist" was friendly and made some jokes. Then, we got to the stupid part: the premium change. I know that Southern California has more weird driving situations and more car theft than rural Virginia. I know I've only been driving for a year, and Jer's been driving way longer. I know there are multiple reasons that my premium was going to go up. I did not expect my premium to double.

Really? Double? Not cool man. Not freakin' cool, but whatever, I'm not in a position to do much about it. I just have to deal. I restrained myself from saying any obscenities aloud to the nice lady, reminded myself that it wasn't her fault, and let myself get transferred to the financial adviser. This part was the most entertaining. I knew that I had my ducks in a row as much as I could. I have a small savings, no student loans, a place to live, and a job that should pay the bills even if it doesn't let me save. Bring it, Lady. Ask me your questions. I'm all over this.

This woman was also nice and clearly expected to have to help me through my "life change" which she understood was a "difficult time." This is the great thing about all these phone calls. Everyone thinks I'm all super delicate and bends over backwards to help me. It's like they think I make these phone calls at the precise moments when I am least stable. I don't know about how most people do it, but I only engage with strangers when I'm doing pretty all right. She asked me a series of questions about moving, work, housing, debt, legal paperwork, what my plans are for the next year, etc and was surprised when I had the "right" answer for pretty much everything. It only took about 2 minutes for her to realize that she could do nothing for me.

So, there I was 25 minutes later and finally off the phone. I think (and don't quote me on this) that I may be done with these phone calls. Of course, I might need to call Verizon again. I think they may be charging my credit card for internet still even though we changed it to Jer's card over a month ago. Oh man, I totally hate Verizon. Also not a fan of the metric fuckton of busywork. In other news, the packing is nearly done... 5 days. So surreal.

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