Anyone who has had an accident and dealt with insurance may have come to wonder about the policy-making of modern companies. We had an experience with it which left us scratching our heads.

The van we wrecked was not damaged too much, but the fender was bent enough that it pressed against the tire. This left the vehicle undrivable. Because of that, we either needed to have the car fixed immediately, or we needed another vehicle to drive. We first approached the body shop to find out how long it would take to get our car fixed.

"The fix won't take too long," the man at the auto body shop said. "The biggest challenge is getting the part. We can put the part on in just a few hours once we have it. But it usually takes about a week to get it. However, for an extra twenty-five dollars,  we can have the part shipped overnight, and we could have the car ready tomorrow."

That sounded reasonable, so Donna, my wife, called our insurance company. She explained to the representative about the van and that we needed something to drive.

"That's not a problem," the insurance rep said. "You have a rider on your insurance for us to pay for a car while your van is getting fixed."  He then gave Donna the name of a local car dealer that their company worked with. "Just go to them, they will rent a car to you, and we will pay for it," he said.

Donna and I went together in our pickup to the car dealer so one of us could drive the rental car home. We explained our dilemma to the car dealer. He contacted our insurance company and verified we had insurance for a car rental. He then showed us an almost new car.

"How much does it cost to rent that?" I asked.

"We work out a special deal with the insurance company to be their approved car rental company," he said. "We provide this rental for only thirty-five dollars per day."

"Thirty-five dollars per day?" I questioned. "But the auto body shop said they could fix the car by tomorrow for only twenty-five dollars extra for shipping. Wouldn't it just be cheaper for the insurance company to pay the extra shipping?"

The car dealer laughed. "Good luck with that."

We weren't sure why he said that, but we were positive the insurance company would insist we do the thing that would be least expensive for them. We decided we better call them. We went out and sat in our pickup, and Donna called them. Once she had the insurance representative on the line, she explained the situation. When she finished, she said, "So, if you just want to pay for the overnight shipping, we can get our car fixed tomorrow and won't need to rent a car."

"Hold on," the insurance rep said. "You haven't paid for the expedited shipping rider on your insurance. If you want your car fixed faster, you will have to pay the overnight shipping yourself."

"But if you pay for the rental car for a week, it will cost you two hundred and forty-five dollars," Donna said. "Or you could simply pay the extra shipping, and you would only pay twenty-five dollars."

"The problem as I see it," the insurance rep said, "is that you are asking us to pay for something which you did not put on your policy. If we end up doing that for you, there is no end to the extra things people will ask for. You can either just take what your insurance covers, or you can pay the extra yourself."

Donna covered the phone and explained the situation to me. "We might as well do the rental car," I said. "We will get to drive a nice, new car, and we will come out twenty-five dollars ahead."

Donna ended the phone call, and we went back inside the car dealership.

The car dealer smiled. "So, are you ready for the car rental?"

He apparently knew what the insurance company would say.

Donna and I filled out the rental papers, even as we wondered at the logic of some business decisions.

 Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com, to buy his books.

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