Hi. I got rear-ended last week while sitting innocently at an intersection with my hands "at 10 and 2." Regular readers are either 1.) shaking their heads in disbelief that something like this has happened AGAIN 2.) laughing joylessly to themselves because OMG or 3.) laying their heads on their desks because CHRIST, reading about my constant my bad luck is exhausting. I'm tired of it, too. Wanna trade? no? Let's all just put our heads down and take a little nap right now, okay? ZZzzzzzzz....
Anyway, I'm not hurt. The lady whose "car slipped" (her words to explain what happened; note: it wasn't raining) is not hurt. I am beyond the point of getting angry or upset when this happens. It's really just another day, another Geico claim number at this point. My default mode after I suddenly and involuntarily jerk forward into oncoming traffic is no longer panic, nor fear. I merely reach out for the notebook and pen in my glove compartment, and listlessly- oh so listlessly- get out of the car to meet the person who has inspired the most recent Crisis Du Jour.
I yawn in the face of your destruction to my personal property. Do you hear that, world? I yawn. I YAWN at you with LISTLESSNESS and SULLENNESS.
So now I'm in a rental car. If you have not been rear-ended on four separate occasions in every car you've ever owned, please allow me to share what I have learned. If you *are* rear-ended, it is always the other driver's fault when you are hit from behind. This means your insurance does not go up. You do not have to pay a deductible, and in theory, the other insurance driver's policy pays for you to drive a rental car while your car is in the shop.
Here's the tricky part that makes this "in theory." The other driver's insurance usually pays for a compact car and covers about $30 a day. However, no matter which rental car company you contact after you've been rear-ended, every single compact car in the tri-state area will magically be Not Near You. They will all be, say, at the Grand Canyon. Unless you got rear-ended at the Grand Canyon, in which case they will all be in Guam. (Why Guam? Yeah, I don't know why I picked Guam either. Guam is fun to type. Guam. Guam. Guam. )
Right. So... $30 a day. You should know that the rental car people will always, always tell you that they simply can not rent to you for anything less than a daily rate that is at least $5 to $10 higher than when the driver-at-fault's insurance will pay for. Even though you've rented cars off Travelocity for much less and seen advertisements for rental cars at much lower daily rates, when you are rear-ended, the cost of every rental car is ALWAY $5 to $10 more than what the other guy's insurance pays for (about $30.) So you have to pay the out-of-pocket cost for the difference.
Now, the insurance company will allow you to use the rental car for up to 30 days. Then they stop paying. I guarantee you that your car will not be ready any sooner than 29 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes from the time you pick up your rental car. It's just true. Which means you, the injured party, has to cough up about $300 if you accept the bullshit that the rental car representative is feeding you with an itty, bitty silver spoon.
However, there is a KEY PHRASE that you can say in order to get the rental car company rep to allow you to leave with a rental car at the exact rate that the driver-at-fault's insurance policy will cover. Are you listening? Because this is good stuff. Here's how it will go:
Car Rental Rep: Unfortunately, all of our compact vehicles have been rented.
You: You don't have any compact or subcompact vehicles that rent for $30/day or less whatsoever?
Car Rental Rep: No, ma'am.
You: There aren't any compact or subcompact vehicles at one of your nearby locations or being returned later today?
Car Rental Rep: No. They are all in Guam. But we *can* put you in an SUV right away for the low rate of $40 a day.
You: Except that the person who hit me's policy only pays $30/day.
Car Rental Rep: It's actually $26.75.
You: Really? Because when I made my appointment to meet with the adjuster next door, Geico put in a vehicle request for a compact and said they covered $30 a day.
Car Rental Rep (conveniently skipping over the $30 vs $26.75 discrepancy) Yes, but you need to make the request 24 hours in advance.
You: Well, it's a good thing we made the request yesterday. The Geico representative said that if you can't produce a compact or subcompact vehicle in that amount of time, it becomes the rental agency's obligation to provide an available vehicle at the compact rate.
CRR: There's no date or time listed with the reservation, so I don't know for sure when it was made.
You: It's a good thing I have the rental confirmation number with me so you can look that information up!
*NOTE: Make sure you have the rental confirmation number with you.*
CRR: I can't give you an SUV for $30/day.
You: See, here's the thing. I've picked up rental vehicles at airport locations with your rental car company many times. I've booked rental cars through Travelocity for as low as $20/day AND I know that if I were to come to you with a competitor's price quote, you'd have the authority to beat their price.
DING DING DING DING! This is the key phrase- if I were to come to you with a competitor's price quote at this same rate, you'd have the authority to beat it. This is your mantra.
CRR: Let's go see what we have available in the lot for you today.
You: Yes, let's.
You walk all around the car with the rep. This part is very important: You MUST, MUST, MUST point out every nick, ding and scratch that currently exists on the car. They say they don't care about any scratches shorter in length than a dollar bill and dents smaller than a smallish circle (a little bigger than the circle you make with your thumb and your index finger when you make the "OK" sign). Oh, pumpkins, THEY CARE. If something is wrong with your rental car (say, the registration is expired, YES that happened to me two car accidents ago) and you need to return it, they will make you feel bad and point out every little flaw as if the dings and nicks were LESIONS upon texture of your VERY SOUL.
Make no mistake about it, Screwed-Over-Driver-Who-Got-Rearended, the rental car rep, who WILL give you the rental car at the rate covered by the guilty driver's policy if you use that key phrase (if I were to come to you with a competitor's price quote at this same rate, you'd have the authority to beat it) but the rep is GOD here, people. And he's not the friendly bearded and be-robed God of Family Circus cartoons who lets Ghost Grandpa to leave his cloud and dance with Grandma type God. OH NO! He is a mean, Jonathan Edwards "The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you" type God.
Then, after you view the vehicle, and have the rep note all the rental car's flaws on the paperwork with your initials, you both return to the office. Then you pleasantly ask something like, "What price point did we finally come to?" If you used our key phrase, the answer will be, as it was for me today, "$26.75."
Since I'm just full of advice today, whenever possible, try to be rear-ended by someone who has the same car insurance company. When this happens, the company knows they are going to pay for it one way or another, and they tend to be more cooperative overall. Therefore, if you need to stop suddenly, you should roll down a window and shout "DO YOU HAVE GEICO?!?!" before the guy behind you slams into you. You know, if you can.
And then yesterday, I lost my work cell phone. Yeah, the one St. Anthony found at the school where I did my Phantom project. I know. Again. I hate being me, too. On the plus side, the last cell phone I lost? The one I left at the hotel where the out-of-towners crashed after my bridal shower-turned-deluge? THAT one turned up about a month later. You know where it was? In the lost and found box. The lost and found box that nobody bothered to check. Ho hum.
I hate being like this. And I hate cell phones. And people who rear-end me. Yeah.