Monday, May 24, 2010
Help Me Howard: Too Honest
Honesty pays right? Well not exactly. One South Florida man says he is honest and his reward punishment from his insurance company after they raised his rates for reporting a minor accident legally can they do that. Lets bring in Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you are are tired of people who talk too much you'd like George Francisco.
George Francisco: "I am retire."
Ask him a question and you get a simple answer like do you like retirement?
George Francisco: "Yep."
George is blunt and he is honest and thats what caused his problem.
George Francisco: "I felt like a little bump. I said 'what happened here.'"
One sunday morning George had taken breakfast to his elderly aunt who doesnt drive anymore. Then when he backed out of her driveway he scratched a car parked in the road.
George Francisco: "Nobody was there and i could have left, but i said 'i dont want to do that.'"
Patrick Fraser: "Why didnt you leave."
George Francisco: "Its not fair. Lets be honest you do something bad you should face it."
So George went and knocked on the door to tell the people what he had done. Actually, had to wake them up and gave them all his information and then reported it to his insurance company.
George Francisco: "I assume it was history, passed."
Then his insurance renewal came. George's rates had gone up $240 a year because an accident surcharge had been added and his good driving discount removed.
George Francisco: "I havent had an accident or a ticket in 48 years driving. What is this, a one way street with insurance companies. What about all the money i have paid them and never used them?"
George was further amazed when he found out the insurance company paid over $900 to repair the scratch.
George Francisco: "There is no way in hell you can pay $937 on a $300 repair or $200 repair."
George then filed a complaint with his insurance company and the insurance commissioners office about his rates being raised. He got no-where, and then he says he came to a realization it didnt pay to be honest.
George Francisco: "I am stupid. I am very stupid."
Patrick Fraser: "Because you were honest?"
George Francisco: "That's right, thats what these people told me with their action."
Jorge says if he had driven off after scratching the car he would have saved hundreds of dollars and countless headaches, and he says the message this incident sent to him is clear.
George Francisco: "You are telling me right now in this action, hey, dont be stupid. The next time just take off."
Thats the lesson George says he learned, but his legal question, can an insurance company raise the rates on a driver who has not had an accident in nearly 50 years for being honest enough to report a minor accident?
Howard Finkelstein: "The simple answer is yes. The law allows an insurance company to raise your rates no matter how long it has been since you had an accident provided you were at fault and the damages exceed a amount determined by the insurance company."
When I spoke to the insurance company, they told me as soon as the damage costs $750 or more you lose your good driver discount. That sent Georges premiums up 10 percent. The insurance company then asked Georges insurance agent to talk to review his policy and see if they could find ways to lower his premium to offset the increase. This has been irritating for george but he really had no choice.
Howard Finkelstein: "Honesty does pay even if it costs you. By that I mean, if you hit a parked car and do not leave a note on that car and call the police you can charged with a crime and go to jail for 60 days. George may make fun of his decision to be honest, but he made the right decision and should be proud of himself."
And since George is so honest, I had to know. Knowing what he knows now about the price of honesty, if he bumps a car tomorrow and no-one sees him what will he do?
George Francisco: "If I let my feelings go I will tell you I will take off, but most likely I will do the same stupidity again."
Patrick Fraser: "You gotta like George. Now, if you have car insurance and unfortunately a lot of people dont, check your policy and see if there are ways to cut your premiums down. For example, if you are a good driver raise the deductible from $500 to $1,000 I did it and saved alot of money."
Do you feel like honesty is the best policy? Have you run into someone who is not good friends with the truth? Dont let them drive you off. Contact us, we put a premium on insuring you are treated fairly.