Allstate Insurance Complaint - Virtual Extortion & Poor treatment
YONKERS, NEW YORK -- On September 23, 2003, I secured car insurance policy with Allstate Insurance Company broker, Frank Evangelista in their offices located at 475 Tuckahoe Road, Yonkers, NY.
I was told by Frank that since I did not have car insurance in my name previously that I would have to go into a New York State Assigned Risk program for a year. I agreed to the terms and Frank told me that I would need to put $1,000 down and that he could not take a personal check, bank/certified check, money order, traveler’s check or credit card. I paid in cash. Frank also told me that I had to pay a $40 brokers fee. When I asked him why they charge a brokers fee if they make money on the policy, his response was, “Believe it or not, we don’t make any money on the policies we sell. All we make is the $40.” Needless to say, I didn’t believe it. But, I needed insurance on my car and I had taken the day off of work to handle it and didn’t want to waste my day.
Frank also told me that because I had an accident in July 2000, and even though the accident was not my fault as per the police report, I would still have to pay a higher rate than normal for my assigned risk plan because a claim had been made to the insurance company of the owners of the car (my parents). This made no sense to me but, since I am not an insurance expert, I went along with what Frank presented. Frank informed me that even though he was not supposed to remove a record off my DMV record that he had taken the incident off two weeks ahead of time, in hopes that it would get me a better rate. It didn’t.
About two weeks later, I received a bill from Allstate requesting $800 more dollars for the down payment. Upon my receipt of this increase – which felt like extortion – I promptly called Frank Evangelista who bad-mouthed the Allstate Insurance Company, stating, “I don’t know why they’re doing this. I agree that it’s totally ridiculous. They’re really giving you a raw deal. The best you can do is put your policy under someone else’s name that does have insurance.” I asked him how much my insurance would be per month and he told me around $800…up from $599 per month (which is already too high)!
Needless to say, I promptly looked around for replacement insurance. I secured identical coverage with Liberty Mutual for about $6,000 less. The Liberty Mutual agents were kind enough to handle the cancellation of my insurance with Allstate. In getting my insurance through Liberty Mutual, I was asked to fax them the policy. My agent at Liberty Mutual sent the cancellation letter to the address listed on my Allstate policy (please see enclosure A). I called Frank to make sure that he had received the cancellation. He said that he had not received the cancellation notice. When I gave him the address that the cancellation letter had been sent to, he told me that it was the owner’s relative’s agency. He was very defiant and could not understand why the cancellation letter would have been sent to the Central Avenue address – as opposed to the Tuckahoe Road address. I explained to him that the address on every piece of correspondence he had given me – even my policy – had the Central Avenue address on it. His reply was, “The main office must have the wrong address and I need to get this corrected.” This is a million-dollar insurance company, people put their trust in them everyday, and they cannot get their office address straight? At this point, Frank asked me to fax a copy of the cancellation notice to him. I didn’t have my copy of the notice with me so I called my agent and asked them to fax Frank a copy. My agent was out of the office and sent the fax to Frank the next day.
The fax was returned to Liberty Mutual with a handwritten note on it from Melanie (also working in the Allstate office on Tuckahoe Road) that the letter was insufficient that they needed the cancellation letter with my signature or they needed the Liberty Mutual insurance cards with my signature (please see enclosure B). I signed the letter and faxed it over to them. The policy was supposed to be cancelled.
Today, I got a call from my Liberty Mutual agent, and she informed me that now Melanie says that my signature is not enough to cancel the policy, that Melanie is now requesting a copy of my new policy. After futilely trying to determine why Allstate needed a copy of my new Liberty Mutual policy, my new agent acquiesced and faxed the new policy. My Liberty Mutual agent suggested that I call Frank to make sure they needed nothing else to cancel the Allstate policy.
I called Frank and he answered the phone. I asked him if they had everything they need to cancel my Allstate policy and he told me that they had not received the fax of the new policy from Liberty Mutual. He said that he had just walked in and didn’t know what was going on. If he had just walked in, how can he tell me that he never received the fax? He abruptly transferred me to Melanie. I asked her what the problem is in canceling my policy. She immediately launched into reasons why she needed the various faxes. When I tried to speak, she said to me, “Whoa, slow down.” I told her that she will not speak to me with that tone or in that manner. She went on to explain that the original cancellation letter went to their post office box and she had indeed received it – this, after Frank told me they had NOT received the original cancellation letter! When I told her that Frank says that the original cancellation letter went to the owner’s relative’s agency on Central Avenue and they didn’t receive it, she replied, “Well, Frank doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” I indicated to her that I have been to their office and see that they sit about six feet apart and I think it’s ridiculous that neither one of them know what’s going on. She went on to say that when Liberty Mutual contacted her about canceling the policy, she neglected to look the policy up and didn’t see that it was assigned risk. So, in essence, she made both myself and my Liberty Mutual agent go through unnecessary work all because she was too lazy to bother looking up the policy? Unacceptable! I informed Melanie that I would be filing a formal written complaint to the New York State Department of Insurance, she hung up the phone while I was still talking.
Additionally, Frank never informed me that I had to have a photo inspection of my car completed. So, even though I have secured coverage else where, I have received letters stating that my coverage had been decreased because there was no photo inspection on record (please see enclosure C). Mr. Evanglista didn’t bother to even tell me of any Allstate photo inspection locations. Liberty Mutual provided a handy reference sheet and website address with lists of the photo inspection locations broken down by county (please see enclosure D).
I should also mention that when I initially went to the office, both Frank and Melanie were not dressed professionally. Melanie in a t-shirt and cargo pants and Frank in an oversized sweater and pants. Not exactly proper office attire for financial and insurance “professionals”.
At this point, I was tired of dealing with Allstate. When I called Frank and Melanie to get to the bottom of this matter, I was treated with contempt and was hung up on. Surely, I would find relief at the corporate office? To the contrary! I spoke with Phyllis who, initially offered to take my complaint over the phone but, when she realized that my policy was assigned risk, transferred me to Allstate Shared Markets (1-866-245-9172). She told me that she could not handle my inquiry at the corporate office. I spoke with a representative at that number and he said that he didn’t know why the corporate office couldn’t help me but, they can’t handle complaints at this number either. He gave me the number to the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (212-943-5100). I called them and they could not help either. At this point, I called Phyllis in the corporate office back and told her that I don’t have a problem with my policy but, rather with how I was treated by one of Allstate’s agent – this is a customer service issue. She told me the same thing she had said earlier – that she couldn’t take my complaint. I then went to the web site and called the New York State Department of Insurance Consumer Service Bureau (212-480-6400) to get instructions to file a formal written complaint.
I have no doubt that the treatment that I experienced with Allstate is because I am African-American and I plan to exercise my full legal rights to make sure that no one else – of any race - has to endure such a humiliating situation.
In conclusion, I had a VERY bad experience in doing business with Allstate. I will NEVER do business with Allstate again and have told everyone I know about my experience with Allstate and am referring everyone to my Liberty Mutual agent. I am also a business owner and would NEVER permit anyone in my office to treat one of our clients in such a horribly degrading manner.
While I am entitled to my pro-rated refund, I hereby request a full refund in the amount of $1,040 in light of treatment to which I was subjected.