Christmas Miracle

Fixed CarAs I mentioned in a previous blog post. I was rear-ended by an intoxicated chap over a month ago. What I didn’t elaborate on was the painful insurance-saga that ensued.

When the accident happened, I called my insurer: AMI (also the insurer for the other two people involved) the phone-lady told me that they would email me a claim form in the morning. They didn’t. Ok, well, people forget, so the next day I printed a claim form myself, diligently filled it out and took it in to the AMI office personally, my long-suffering colleague Richard in tow for moral support.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that the advertisements are something of an embellishment and not a true reflection of the AMI business model. There was no leggy singing brunette weaving between the computer terminals, handing out smiles and wads of cash to all and sundry. Rather, I sat down with a confused young lady who appeared to be a recent ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) graduate.

SandingThrough the language barrier, we managed to figure out that, in fact, it was not up to me to fill in a claim at all. Because I only have third party, fire & theft insurance, the claim would have to be made by the chap who hit me. Also, because I had just walked in with my claim, clearly stating that the guy had been drunk at the time, they would probably turn down his claim and I would have to go after the chap for money directly.

Decidedly unimpressed by the prospect of calling on Vito and the boys to go break some guy’s kneecaps, I insisted on speaking to the manager. The manager must have graduated from the ESOL school a few years before his employee, because he understood my case a little better. He explained that if the guy who hit my car was declined, I would be covered under the “innocent third party” clause in my insurance contract. Although he forbade me from making a claim myself, he did take the claim I had attempted to file, presumably as evidence against the guy who hit me.

Things sat like that for about a month, the guy who hit me called a few times, asking for a quote, which I eventually managed to get: $2,000 at the place recommended to me by my friend Kelley. He stopped calling after I gave him that quote.

Panel BeatingLast week, a man called me, an investigator of sorts, working on behalf of AMI. He’d been commissioned to investigate the chap who hit me. This was right in the middle of my move, and dangerously close to Christmas time, so I was none-too happy at the prospect, but I went in anyway, knowing full well what the consequences would be. He would tell AMI their customer had been drinking and I would have to wait even longer to get my own claim settled, meanwhile my car was still broken.

I think it was later that same day (17th December), while in a bit of a rush trying to move my stuff from place-to-place, I managed to do even more damage to my poor little car. You see, our new apartment’s car park is so twisty that our landlady recommended we enter through the exit so as to avoid damaging our cars. In true masculine style, I (having done it once before) decided I could navigate the hairpin bend without having to stop, reverse, or adjust my course as most people do.

Needless to say, this was a dangerous conceit that ended in me taking a nice big gouge out of my rear-left door’s paintwork.

Panel BeatingI was devastated: the accumulated stress from my breakup with Sebastian (a story for another time) quality control issues at work, the move, and Christmas meant I ended up being a very unhappy flatmate for Sarah for the first few days after I moved in. To add insult to injury, my Internet was disconnected from the old place, but not yet reconnected at the new place. No Internet, no home.

It’s fair to say I was in a very “bah humbug” mood this Christmas: I’d lost my boyfriend, lost some of my independence (having moved in with Sarah), my car was a wreck and although I had dealt with everyone in perfectly good faith, I was having difficulty both at work and with a belligerent insurance company. I was not in a festive mood.

Then, something of a Christmas miracle happened: on Christmas morning, Arth took one look at my car and said: “oh, we can fix that” and we did.

I say “we” because I did actually contribute to fixing my car in a material way. Arth’s skill, experience & confidence were vital, though, of course, but I helped. Arth sanded down the scratches and painted over them with rust-converting primer. I removed the bumper and we straightened it out with a bit of brute-force and an ingenious jury-rigged stool-jack combination.

Fixed CarBefore the exercise, the bumper was ripped and sagging sadly off its fastenings, the bodywork was scratched and dented, and the chassis itself was buckled so badly that I couldn’t close my boot properly. In half a day (Christmas day, I might add) it was looking whole again, and by boxing day (with the small exception of some blemishes in the bumper) it was perfect. 

It’s the best Christmas present I could have hoped for, better still because it was unexpected, something I didn’t think was possible. In a sense, for me at least, it was my own private Christmas miracle.

Now, all I need to do is get a replacement bumper, and when I do, I know precisely where I would like AMI to stick my old one. 

Merry Christmas