Friday, August 27, 2010

Still Life With Robin: Driving With Gecko

by Peggy Robin

If you have been following this column from the start, then you’ll recall my wailing over how difficult it’s been to teach my teenage daughter to drive on the streets of Washington, DC, given the frequency of encounters with red-light-runners, cell phone yakkers, stop-sign-coasters, and reversible-lane chicken-players in our city’s thoroughfares. I’m pleased to announce that the harrowing lessons are over: The kid is licensed. She passed her road test on Monday.

I had imagined that this would be followed by an equally unnerving event: getting her insured. I am absolutely flabbergasted to report what follows:

First, with fear and trepidation, I call our car insurance company, Geico. In short order I get a pleasant but efficient lady on the phone who looks up our account. She begins by saying that she is required to go over the status of everyone on the account and apologizes in advance for the number of questions she must ask. Already I’m getting a sinking feeling that, pleasant through she may be, this is the start of a long and painful process.

No sooner than she starts her questions, however, it becomes clear to me that the point of the questions is to find out who drives in our family, for what purpose, and how much per year. Nothing wrong with that. Once she records the low annual mileage on both our cars, she lets us know she can reduce the premium by a certain amount. Next, we cover the situation of my older daughter, who is currently away at college and these days drives our car only during breaks from school. That results in conversion of one family member from regular driver to “away at school” status, bringing us a second substantial reduction in the premium.

Next we come to the part I’m think I’m going to dread. Adding the new driver. But the Geico lady immediately brings up the good student discount. Great, our daughter meets the bar for that one. After that, I’m put on hold for a period of time while Geico’s computer analyzes the new data and calculates the new rate. With an apology for my time on hold, the Geico lady comes back with the bottom line. And get this: It’s twelve dollars LESS than the six-month premium we were paying before!

This outcome is so the opposite of what I had expected that four days later I’m still in shock. I’m afraid this column is coming across as something of a Geico commercial, but it is all true. This has got to be the weirdest and most wonderful talk with an insurance agent I’ve ever had in my life. I never thought it would be possible even to write a sentence about purchasing insurance that includes the word “wonderful.” Has anyone ever before added a teenage driver to a policy and paid less than they did before? Okay, it’s not as weird and wonderful as, say, winning the Powerball or finding out that I am the long-lost heir of Queen Marie of Romania, but these days, I gotta take what I can get. Even if it comes from a gecko.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to your wonderful kid! I am reminded of the Karma bank -- you should send Geico a copy of this post. I hate to add to your commercial, but we've had superior service from Geico -- always.