SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE -- I had been a Progressive Auto Insurance customer for over eight years, with NO incidents, when one of my custom antique cars was vandalized in my own driveway. I called the police that night, they had me fill out a report, found evidence of someone else at the scene, and informed me that there had been similar vandalism in the area, suggesting that this was not an isolated event.
The following morning I called Progressive, and informed them of the situation. They finally sent an adjuster out three days later to look at my vehicle. Right away I had a bad feeling about the whole situation with the insurance company, as the adjuster knew nothing about antique cars, and didn't seem to have a whole lot of knowledge of automobiles in general. He informed me that I should get together any receipts I had for work on my vehicle, and he would try to locate replacement parts. The whole time the adjuster was there, he never seemed completely attentive, as he was too busy complaining that Progressive only provided them with 2.0 megapixel digital cameras, and they took horrible photos.
So I collected all the receipts I had for the vehicle, and in the meantime, the adjuster called me asking for photos of the vehicle before the vandalism, and also stated that he could not find certain parts for the vehicle. Along with the receipts, I included original photos of the car, and I was also able to locate companies that produced the parts that he could not find, and passed the information along to him.
One week later I heard back from Progressive, and they told me they wanted me to come in to their office, and in a meeting, provide them with more information to help with the investigation of who did this to my vehicle.
Was I in for a surprise. The meeting started out innocent enough, the Progressive "investigator" asked me some basic questions about the car, and if I had any "enemies" that would want to do this. I told him no, and pointed him to the police remarks that there were other incidents involving the same "tags" and type of damage. Ignoring this, he went on to inform me that 'he knew nothing about cars,' but then proceeded to grill me on the custom details of my car. In an hour long tirade, he told me that he thought the receipts I provided were fake, and that this custom work was not done to the car. I challenged him over and over again to go see the car for himself, I had nothing to hide, you could plainly see the modifications that were done.
When he realized that he was either going to have to go see the car for himself, or come up with a different way to accuse me of fraud, he did just that. He then began passively accusing me of vandalizing the car myself to collect the insurance money, and also accused friends of mine that had helped me with the vehicle over the years.
At this point I was completely flustered. I originally thought I was meeting with them/him to give as much information as I could in hopes that we could find the person or people that did this, and instead I was accused of the act myself! I didn't even know what to say, as he wasn't listening to anything I said, wasn't acknowledging the physical work done to the car that you could plainly see, and was ignoring what the police had to say on the matter. They clearly lied about what the meeting was about, and I clearly should have showed up with a lawyer at my side (you don't think about these things when you believe you're just going over your policy with the company). As a side note, after I collected all the receipts I had for the vehicle, I realized I had under-insured it, however they also accused me of insuring it for more than what it was worth.
So the meeting comes to an end, and the investigator is demanding information that I don't even know that I can provide. We are a non-title state with antique autos, and he is demanding the original bill of sale, the name of the person I bought it from (YEARS AND YEARS before this happened), along with a plethora of paperwork that is going to keep me busy for weeks.
In the meantime, the adjuster is ignoring parts information that I have submitted to him, and is instead making UNDER-estimates of what he believes parts will cost, along with stating that he believes my $5,000+ base/clear paint job that I provided receipts for, is now only a $900 single-stage paint job from Maaco. I even tried to help them out when they estimated that it would cost $1,500 to fix my damaged hood, and I told him that it could be replaced with a new one for $400-$500.
So while they were enacting all their scare tactics, and trying to devalue my vehicle, they kept probing me for more information. Every time I would provide them with more paperwork/information, they would ask for something else, over and over and over again.
I will admit that I was very inexperienced in this area, as I had never had to deal with an insurance company before, and I will also admit that I was outraged at their accusations, and was stubborn about the issue. I was completely innocent, and I refused to hire a lawyer because of that fact.
Progressive had three workers on my case, and while the three of them continued to ask for information, dragging the length of the case out, not one of them verbally, or in writing, informed me that they only had 60 days from the incident to make a decision on my case (I have since found out this is illegal). One day I received a message on my phone from one of the workers, stating that I had denied them information they asked for, and that they had been forced to make a decision without all the required information, and that they were denying my claim.
I made one last call to find out what was going on, and it appeared to me that they had "mis-placed" (*wink-wink-nudge-nudge*) information that I had given them about my vehicle.
I broke down and cried. I had spent close to five years, and the equivalent of one whole year of pay, restoring this vehicle. I thought I had done the right thing, insuring this vehicle with a company I had been with for years.
At this point in time, my nerves were shot, and my emotions were all over the place with what I had just been put through with this company, that I didn't even know what to do. I wanted to be done with them, and that's all I cared about.
I wanted to talk about what happened with me, so that people could [hopefully] see what this company is about. I was attracted to them by their cheap rates, lulled into a false sense of security with their commercials, and I will admit, friendly phone-reps. But when it came time for them to pay on a legitimate policy, with an eight-year-loyal customer, they were not the company they claimed to be all those years. I have since spoken with many ex-customers of Progressive, and have also spoken with many garages, body-shops, and even insurance underwriters that refuse to do business with Progressive due to their reputation; a reputation that is unfortunately not well known to the general public.
Avoid Progressive, and if you ever find yourself in this kind of situation, swallow your pride and hire a lawyer.