We finally got around to calling Progressive about the difference in my quoted price v/s their renewal price … ugh! The first person we spoke to started out with ‘just cancel the old policy & open the new one’. Which, great — except it’s a pain. And we lose the ‘perks’ that come with being a long time customer. Including some 250$ off the deductible. Start a new policy, have the bad luck to get in an accident, and saving 150$ just cost me 250$. Not a great deal, that. Plus our home insurance is tied in with the car insurance. And the only reason I didn’t just buy insurance from GEICO (who had the lowest quoted price) is that I didn’t want to screw with the home insurance right now.
Luckily, she transferred us to an insurance agent for help. He checked and there was no way they could price the policy we had at the price quoted under my name. He was able to move the reduced deductible over to the new policy (although it’s still a pain that they have no provision for just swapping the names … and it’s even more of a pain that the person listed first makes such a difference in pricing!). Final price was 164$ for more coverage than the policy they wanted 321$ !?!?! Only took an hour and a half to get there! And I’ve got a really bad feeling the same thing can be done with the homeowners insurance. 🙁
The six-month price for our car insurance renewal went up. Again … which strikes me as odd since the car is older and its value has diminished. With the risks being similar – same drivers, same credit, same very small amount of driving – that coverage should go down year-to-year as the insurance company will be paying out a little less if the car gets destroyed. But, no, the price sneaks up every six months. And now they want 354$ (really 321$ because we don’t do installment billing).
I usually just renew the policy, but this year I decided to get quotes from a few other companies. I was wondering if “churn” (losing customers — basically the idea that there’s a fixed cost to acquire a customer, so the longer they stay with you … the more profitable the relationship becomes) just isn’t a concern in the insurance industry. So I got a few quotes — all of which were about half of what we’re paying. The best price was GEICO at 155$. For increased coverage, since one of our coverage selections was available only with a higher payout limit. That was puzzling since I cannot imagine the actuarial algorithms are that different between companies. And both Progressive and GEICO are paying for a LOT of advertising.
For convenience, I used my SSN to get the quotes and added Scott as the other driver. I wondered how this change would impact the price from Progressive. Now, logically — the risk calculation for Scott and I driving 2500 miles a year in this area with a car with a specific set of safety features and parked in our garage is the same as the risk calculation for I and Scott driving 2500 miles a year in this area with a car with a specific set of safety features and parked in our garage. Yes, I expect a slight difference based on our differing credit scores. But our scores are not that different (and when we bought the house, Scott has the slightly higher score). Got the quote back, and Progressive was willing to sell us a policy for just over half our current cost: 170$. Based simply on switching the account holder and ‘other driver’ people.
They will absolutely deny that it’s because men are charged more for insurance. There’s a lawsuit in there otherwise! But, realistically, there’s nothing that changes by swapping the two names which would impact the price so significantly. And this has been happening for the past six or seven years since we got married and bought joint insurance! That’s like two grand we’ve forked over to Progressive because they put Scott’s name down first!?!
There’s been a lot of talk about health care reform – years ago when the ACA was written, over the summer when the Republicans were working on a replacement bill, and again now that health care is trying to get slid in with tax changes. At no point has any politician addressed the real problems in health care costs: medical billing.
Scott went to his doctor for a routine checkup — a preventative service that is 100% covered by insurance. The doctor asked him if there’s anything else. He mentioned back pain, and his primary care physician referred him to a back pain specialist. We get the bill and he got billed for both the routine checkup and a medical appointment. Evidently, when the doctor asks if there’s anything else during a routine checkup … the answer is NO WAY IN HELL, otherwise you get billed a couple hundred bucks. Didn’t look at his back, didn’t prescribe any medication. Just said “yeah, you’ll need to see a specialist”.
The worst part is, in talking to the medical billing people, a doctor doesn’t know at what point a conversation will be deemed sufficiently in depth as to incur an additional code on the bill. There is absolutely no other situation where people would accept blindly accepting a service without knowing the charges involved. Could you imagine taking a University course and getting a bill at the end based on some financial department worker’s interpretation of how much interaction you had with faculty and educational resources for the duration of the class? A restaurant meal where the bill comes six months later and is based on the time you spent at the table, each interaction with a server, you chatted for a few minutes with the guy who brought the beer and that’s an extra fee because you discussed the IBU of their different offerings. Could have just said hoppy bitter flavor, but you used a technical term and incurred a consulting fee. Hell, you take your car in for service and they’ll provide an estimate before performing maintenance.
What I don’t understand is why we accept this billing model for medical services. I saw someone on SharkTank a week or two ago selling at-home medical testing kits. Her sales pitch wasn’t just the convenience (or privacy) of testing for medical problems at home. It was that there was a known cost for each test. You want to know your cholesterol levels? That’s 80$. Thyroid problem? Measuring TSH, TPO, free T3, and free T4 levels costs 150$. You pay in advance, you know how much it costs, and you don’t get a bill thirteen months later for services you never consented to receive.
What recourse do you have when the Cleveland Clinic screws up your appointment and you end up with expensive bills you didn’t anticipate receiving? Or a quick comment to a doctor garners another 150$ charge? Not a lot. Leave messages for their ombudsman who never returns calls. Pay the bill and appeal to the credit card company? Take them to small claims court?