Lied to By A Gecko

The automobile insurance renewal policy arrived yesterday from Geico, or what used to be known as Government Employees Insurance Company before they went Hollywood and threw the doors open to the flotsam of insurance, including criminal defense lawyers.

My last renewal showed a $10 decrease in the premium.  Not much, you may say, but better than an increase.  This time, however, it was not such good news.  The premium went up.  In fact, it went up a lot.  Now I have a few cars, but only one vehicle accounted for the increase.  A 2006 Toyota Prius.  That’s right, we’re green.  So sue me.  I’m a tree hugger, and my wife is ten times the tree hugger I am.  This is the car she chose.

So I called the Gecko.  You know the Gecko, the one who shows up on TV all the time talking about low prices and getting scones with jam over the phone.  I wanted to talk about low prices too, so it seemed the only thing to do.

A lovely young lady answer the phone right away, named Nicole.  When I asked her why, she diligently put me on hold to find out.  After about 10 minutes, she returned with an answer:  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made them.  It immediately occurred to me that she misunderstood whoever she got the information from, since nobody could “make” Geico charge more, so I sought to clarify. 

Nicole explained to me that the IIHS found out something about the Prius, she didn’t know what, but it made them change their rating on the car and forced Geico to significantly increase their premium.  She assured me that it was nothing about us that caused the increase.  It wasn’t our fault.  It was the IIHS.  Bad IIHS, but there was nothing they could do.

Naturally, this news caused me great concern.  The  IIHS ratings for the Prius were pretty good, and it was one of the things that makes me feel comfortable knowing that my tree-hugging wife is driving around in one all day long.  So I asked Nicole what had changed to make my Prius a threat to life and limb.  She told me I would have to call the IIHS to find out. 

Now, I get funny when the people who I pay money to tell me what I have to do.  So I asked Nicole who at Geico would know what was wrong with the Prius that would compel them to increase the premium.  She told me no one at Geico would know that, and I would have to call the IIHS (with that tone that suggests that I must be an idiot since she already told me to call them). 

Figuring that poor Nicole was being pushed into an area where she probably was over her head, I asked her who else was there who might know more about this.  She told me to hold, and a few minutes later, her supervisor, Josh, came on the phone.  Now Nicole sounded about 18 years old.  Josh sounded like her much younger brother.  I pictured him with braces and freckles, hoping for the day that he would meet a girl from whom he could steal a kiss. 

While I was on hold, I checked the IIHS website and found that there have been  no changes in ratings for the Prius.  The same was true with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  So now I knew that whatever they were telling the children at Customer Service to tell their customers, it wasn’t true.  The Gecko was lying to me.

I put the same question to Josh that I had to Nicole, even though I now knew a little more than I did before.  Josh explained to me slowly that Nicole had already given me the answer.  If I want to know why my premium increased, I would have to call the IIHS.  I explained to Josh, just as slowly but using smaller words, that he did realize that I don’t have to insure my cars with Geico, and if Geico couldn’t explain to me why it was increasing my premiums, I would question why I did.  Josh was dumbfounded.  I suppose that no one had ever told him that we had no obligation to use the company that paid him biweekly, ever since he left his old job at the Dairy Queen.

Josh told me that he didn’t know what to say.  He guessed that if I didn’t want to pay more, then I could always change my insurance company.  So I asked him point blank whether Geico would prefer I change or tell me why they wanted to charge me more.  He started to mumble Insurance Institute, but then trailed off.  Then he said, “that’s what it costs.  If you don’t like it, you can leave.”  Finally, an honest answer.

It’s been my experience that automobile insurance companies give you some very decent rates when you first sign up with them.  Once they think they have you, things change.  So whether you think the Gecko is cute, or prefer the caveman, Geico is just like every other automobile insurance company, and poor Nicole and Josh were forced to answer another pain in the butt insured (me) who expected them to provide truthful answers.  Eventually, Josh did.  The answer was that Geico is every bit as much a business as any other, and I can either pay whatever they demand or find a new insurer.  I wonder how much the next company will save me?

4 thoughts on “Lied to By A Gecko

  1. Mark Bennett

    GEICO won’t insure you if you have a radar detector, and my religion requires me to have a radar detector.

    Also, GEICO gives LiDAR units to cops.

    You needed another reason not to use GEICO?

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