Monday, November 25, 2013

Marbete "Insurance" and the Bumper Bump

This is a tale about almost escaping Puerto Rico without a car accident (mirror tapping doesn't count). Yes, 6 years of driving all over the island on little roads and bigger ones with erratic, mean, and oblivious drivers. It finally happened - the bumper bump. I normally am not in the car during the morning traffic when every one near a school blocks the road...when people have their free stuff appointments...when the 40% of the people who can and should work actually do (lowest labor participation rate of all countries). I was 10 minutes behind Jeff because we were dropping the Kia off to get the engine light checked out. I am on 112 right before it joins 2. There are 10 or so stopped cars in front of me - stopped at the stop light. BAM! The guy behind me apparently was texting or talking or both or had non functioning brakes or whatever and he just smacked into to me. He doesn't even get out of the car. I hopped out pissed off and stayed in the road blocking 20 cars behind us so he couldn't escape. He says "sorry" but my bumper is pushed in. "Sorry" doesn't cut it. He has a friend who can put a bumper on for me (stolen probably, just what I need). To his "sorry" I say "911." I call the cops and then Jeff who circles back. I take a photo of the bumper, his car license, his face etc. The cops actually show up in 15 minutes or so and pull out (you've seen it before)...a black and white composition notebook (like you used when you were 10) Same kind they use in the laboratories, at Walmart for forgotten goods, at MRI/Xray places. He gets my report, license, marbete, last four digits of the soc sec number, phone number etc. He gets the guy's info - none. He writes NO LIC in the book and then the guys supposed name (no ID), address, contact info. Typical. He tells me I have to have a 4 digit report code before I can go to the Asociacion de Suscripcion Conjunta del Seguro de Responsabilidad Obligatorio. The guy has to go too, but he can't because he has an appointment. The cop LETS HIM DRIVE AWAY without a license! I am just amazed. Why even have a license or ID if it doesn't matter? Apparently you can just drive around without one and without any ID hitting cars along the way without even a ticket.

We drop the car off and I drive Jeff to work. I do some shopping and go home figuring this is a lost cause or will be more trouble than it is worth. A couple hours later (after I get home) I get the call with the 4 digits I need. Now I have to drive back to the "adjuster" place to "make the appointment.". I time this with collecting Jeff and picking up the car which has to be collected before they close (4pm). How hard can it be to make an appointment? Well, making an appointment isn't getting a time. It is a whole other thing. You go into a holding corral and wait. Then you get called to a back room. Your appointment is someone dialing a number and putting you on the phone to give someone the VIN number, numbers off your marbete, phone numbers etc etc and the story. After 8 minutes or so on the phone you get a day and time to, you guessed it, come back. So why couldn't this be done on line or by the person who hands you the phone?

Now I have the appointment and I get the news that I also have to get an "estimada." Awesome! My appointment is for Friday and today is Wednesday and late in the day. Thursday I go to the guy who does my car inspections. I know he doesn't do it but he is always helpful. That is where I find out that there are really only two places I can go to get the estimate. I can't just go anywhere. He describes some place near a cemetary and gas station but I don't think I'll find it. Then he tells me about one on 111 near a certain ferreteria. That I can find. I find the ferreteria but not the place but I ask around and someone points to a grey carpa so off I go. All I have to do is point, the guy looks some stuff up and prints out (printer with tractor paper) my official estimate! I am done and it hasn't even been an hour! The estimate is for $1,490 dollars. Yikes. The truck is a 2000 with lots of miles on it and a rusted bed with bangs and evidence of mirror tapping.

The next day I go for my "cita" which turns out to be at a real time and I get the adjuster to look at it, print a bunch of stuff off the internet about the truck, records mileage etc then sends me to an English speaking person who tells me I am getting $608 due to depreciation and an extra $100  if I bring in paperwork for another appointment to show that the work has been done. I got the check THAT DAY because miracle of miracles the other guy actually did his part and went in. All in all this was fairly painless and my "windfall" has paid for 6 years of buying a marbete! Amazingly I did not encounter problems with Jeff being on the title. The marbete is the marbete - it insures the car not the driver or owner.

Here's a little more about that marbete. This is the most expensive insurance on the planet. The insurance is for $4000 and costs about $99. REAL insurance is $318 for $300,000 of coverage and towing. Marbete is like the Payday Loan of insurance. Puerto Rican's have 70% home ownership (higher than in the US) and they just don't get it about insurance. In my case this worked out but someone we know still hasn't had her accident resolved when someone smacked her car in San Juan. The guy was at fault and just hasn't gone in. It has been MONTHS. Plus the $4000 of coverage won't begin to cover the damage to her car so she is left in limbo while her REAL insurance dukes it out in an endless nightmare that will probably involve court and trips to San Juan eventually. So like everything else here it is a crap shoot. In my case though it went smoothly and didn't involve hours. I actually can say it was efficient - definitely a first! Word of Advice though - get REAL insurance especially if you own a house. There is so much room for fraud it is scary and if you are a gringo watch out!

1 comment:

Britton said...

Hi guys!

When I read your posts I always find the perspective interesting.

It would seem to me, that no matter what happens, how it happens you take time to look for the worst in it. I have a tendency to view negative things as well, it seems to be my default.

If you look for the worst, you'll find it. Seek out misery and you will find it, at any time, under any circumstance.

Check out this write up:

I just wanted to try and share something that became enlightening to me in the hopes that you'd find some insight in it as well.

The island is a very interesting place to live, for numerous reasons.