On Saturday, November 19, 2015 I was rear-ended at a stoplight. It was raining and the car behind me hydroplaned. No one was hurt. The other driver and I exchanged information and we went on our ways.
It was no big deal – or so I thought until I had to deal with Allstate Insurance.
I met with the Allstate Insurance adjuster on Monday, November 21st. After examining the car, he informed me I would have to pay an additional $103.22 because, he explained, the car is ten years old and the door panel paint had “depreciated.” The auto shop would have to mix the paint to match the color and I had to pay for the procedure.
I objected, especially because I had been rear-ended by a taxi in Washington D.C. 18 months before. It was on the same side of the car so the panel was relatively new. When the car was repaired there was no mention of additional fees. The taxi driver’s insurance company replaced the part with no objections and no additional fee—especially interesting because there were a number of scratches on the panel. I decided to wait to see what the body shop had to say.
Then came the problem with the car rental. Allstate Insurance gave the body shop three days to complete the repair. After that, the rental fee was between the body shop and me. But the body shop was not open on the weekends; I could not take the car in until Monday, three days before Thanksgiving. After a lot of hassle from Allstate Insurance, this part of the ordeal finally worked out, with the body shop paying for the extra rental days.
When I got the car back, the $103.22 was, indeed, on the bill. This time there was no mention of a 10-year-old car and “depreciated paint.” Rather, the invoice stated there were scratches on the car and the new one-quarter panel had made the car “better,” so I had to pay for that. Even the people at the body shop were scratching their heads over that one.
That’s when I started to research the issue. Seems that Allstate Insurance has a “betterment charge” in its policies. According to Google, here’s how it works: "A betterment charge is a tool that insurance companies use to avoid paying for the complete amount of repairs after a car accident … They are only responsible for returning your vehicle to the condition that it was in prior to the accident, and since you are getting a brand-new part, your vehicle will actually be in better condition after the repairs are completed. Therefore, the insurance company shouldn’t be on the hook for the entire amount."
How they were going to replace the one-quarter panel without using a new panel is a mystery to me. How could they have fixed the car without replacing the panel? Should I have gone to a junkyard, found a ten-year-old Toyota Prius, bought the panel and supplied it to the auto shop? Would Allstate Insurance have then subtracted the cost of the panel since I provided it? Somehow I doubt it.
I called my insurance company (State Farm) for clarification; my agent called a State Farm adjuster. According to the adjuster, the betterment charge usually applies to tires. A charge may be added if a client requests a special part, but only after an explanatory conversation. The agent and I shared a good laugh over the absurdity of the situation.
I told my friends about the state of affairs with Allstate Insurance. Words like “ridiculous,” “crazy,” “unfair,” “***,” “harebrained,” “crackpot,” and “idiotic” filled the air, along with other comments I won’t repeat.
It appears, with Allstate Insurance, you’re not in such “good hands” after all.
2004 Toyota Prius
Case #: 0392 148540
Consumer Review #: 764025
Reviewer is in unhappy mood. This person stated that there is a room for improvement of paying off clams including rental. Please immediately contact the author of this review to discuss "betterment charge" of allstate auto insurance and associated monetary loss in the amount of $103. Allstate needs to issue a full refund according to poster's claims.