Back on January 6, on my standard walkaround before departing for any trip with my car, I recognized a scratch and a hole in the driver side, rear quarter panel [pictured below]. After taking a deep breath…and a brief Columbo-inspired, glaring analysis of anyone in the area, I immediately drove to Precinct 7 of the Baltimore County Police to file a report. Armed with an incident number and slightly-lowered blood pressure, it was time to dive into the automotive insurance process with State Farm. After a few minutes of describing the incident and receiving some subtle emotional counseling, an insurance claim number was on record. My blood pressure was nearly back to a healthy range.
With two important numbers in hand, it was time to talk to the folks that brought my old Toyota Celica back to new condition after repeated run-ins with drivers that were attracted to my parked car. Back in those days, VP Auto Collision in Forest Hill was recommended to me by trusted enthusiasts at the office. After successive excellent experiences, this car would be sent down the same path. The next day, Mitch Hackel from VP took care of the repair estimate.
24 hours later, State Farm completed their own inspection, confirmed full coverage of the damage and offered rental car service. Enterprise Rent-A-Car was next in line and quickly, I was all set for Monday rental and a courtesy pickup at VP. Monday arrived and I set forth behind the wheel of a new Chevy Impala LTZ. Of course, its not the massive ‘66 Impala convertible that my high school friend Bob owned but its perfectly suitable for my weekly trip to Wegmans, visits to sponsors and…oh yes…the drive to pick up my beloved car. [Actually, the new Impala’s cargo room, gas mileage and exhaust note were pleasant surprises.]
A few days later, I was reunited with my revitalized workhorse. VP Auto Collision worked their magic. The once-damaged panel is now back to perfect condition. The efficient line of operations cured the ill feelings attached to the first sight of damage. From that moment and all the way to resolution, there were a dozen opportunities to encounter a hurdle. Maybe some stars aligned but it came down to working with people I have learned to trust. The process was as smooth as the new paint applied by VP Auto Collision. Through it all, my insurance company was there. As an operator of a freshly-minted business, every penny of cash flow has its purpose and the reassurance via insurance was priceless.
Coincidentally – being that you’re reading the February 1 edition – on that date in 1898, Travelers Insurance Company issued the first automotive insurance policy. Back in those days, drivers and their insurers were more worried about collisions with roadworthy horses since there were less than 5000 automobiles in commission compared to millions of horses – either ridden by horseback or leading horse-drawn carriages. Fast forward to January, 2014. In my time of need, my personal A-Team led me down the path of the least horseplay. As John “Hannibal” Smith would say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”