In late 2010, my wife and I began shopping around for new auto and home insurance policies. After entering in our information on an insurance shopping website, we began to be contacted by several insurance agencies. One of these agents was Brett Turley, with Allstate. He put together a quote for auto and home policies which were similarly priced to what we already had. We were interested in the policy, but didn't make the change yet. Over the next several months, we received frequent phone calls from Brett asking if we were ready to switch to Allstate. In March of 2011, we finally decided to make the change.
Everything went fine initially. We had some issues getting our previous carrier to send over information on our policy with them, but nothing significant. In April, we received a letter from our bank who financed our vehicles saying that they didn't have an active policy for our cars on file and needed a policy sent to them that covered our cars. We contacted our agent to get that information to the bank. He said he would get it taken care of.
In early May, the trouble begins. We received a letter from Allstate, dated May 6, saying that our insurance had been terminated and we had a balance due of $42.68. The letter doesn't say anything about why the policy was terminated and we didn't have any idea what the problem was so we called our agent. We told him about the letter and asked what was going on. He says he'll look into it and get back with us. After a few days and no call from Brett, we call him back. He said that they needed policy information from our previous carrier. He also said to not worry about the terminated policy letter and that we were covered for at least the next 30 days. He said he would contact our carrier and get the policy information from them and get it all sorted out.
Later in May, we receive another letter from Allstate. This one, dated may 21, says the same thing as the previous letter. We call our agent again to find out what the problem was. He says he'll look into it and get back with us. He calls back saying that the account is underwriting and is fine. He assures us that we are covered and to not worry about it.
June comes around along with another letter from Allstate. "This is our third and final notice regarding your outstanding balance." Again, we contact our agent and get a call back saying the same basic thing as before. Everything is in underwriting, dont' worry about it, you're fine. We don't pay the outstanding balance as our policies were set up to automatically withdraw from our checking account.
Soon after, we get a letter from our bank, dated June 7, saying that they haven't received any evidence of current insurance coverage for our vehicles. We contact our agent, yet again, and tell him about the letter. He says he'll get in contact with our bank and get them the policy information they needed.
A couple of weeks later, another letter from our bank arrives. This one dated June 21. "Thank you for taking the time to respond to this request. We recently received a policy covering the collateral listed below. We were not named as lienholder/loss payee on this policy." Okay, they got a policy but our agent didn't get them listed as the lienholder. We figured that would be a pretty easy thing to deal with and at least this shows that we have insurance for sure. We tell our agent about the letter and he says he'll take care of it.
At this point, we thought everything was taken care of finally. It's been a rocky transition, but at least we're with a big named carrier and have our own pet agent to deal with problems. Everything should be fine.
A few days later, at the end of June, we get a phone call. It's a recording from a collection agency saying they're collecting on a debt we owe. The recording gives a website and account numbers to look it up online. Guess who it is? Allstate! That $42.68 balance that they said we owed that should have been dealt with by now.
July is not a good month.
Friday, July 1st, we begin calling our agent. Several phone calls with the same result: endless ringing. No answer, no answering machine, nothing. We assume it was because of the upcoming holiday. We tried calling a few more times over the weekend, just to see, but had the same result. Monday comes around. It's the 4th and we assume there's no one in the office because of the holiday. We were right. Tuesday! They've got to be in the office by now. No such luck. No answer, no answering machine, just endless ringing. We give up on our agent and call Allstate directly at 1-800-Allstate. We speak to Karen and tell her about what's going on. She seems understanding of the situation and very concerned with our agent's behavior. She looks at our account and says that the problem is they needed policy information for the previous 2 years of coverage before we were with Allstate and after we got that to them, everything would be fine and there wouldn't be any lapse in coverage. We had only with our prior carrier for 1 year and 9 months and their request made sense overall. No big deal, we can finally be done with this crap. We call the older carrier and get policy information from them and get it to Allstate. We made sure to file a complaint with Allstate about our agent.
After faxing the policy information to Allstate, we follow up with a call to confirm they received the documents. Adrienne, with Allstate, said the documents were received and she would finalize the report to send off for reinstatement.
By now, the frustration with Allstate was more than we wanted to deal with. We contacted an agent with State Farm who worked with my brother. He initially quoted us policy for $30/month less than Allstate was, but when he was running checks in their system, they came up that our Allstate policy was canceled on May 26th. This was the first we heard of this. Now, we can't get the policy with State Farm because we had a lapse in coverage greater than 30 days.
Now we are getting more and more fed up with everything. No one we talked to with Allstate the last few days said anything about the policy being canceled back in May. Our agent had assured us that we were covered and even sent our bank policy information in June, which turned out to be after the policy had already expired. We call up Adrienne with Allstate again and ask about the cancellation date. She confirms the May 26th termination and also informs us that they wouldn't be reinstating the policy because the policy our agent wrote for us required us to be with the same previous carrier for at least 3 years. At no point in the entire process of getting quotes or signing up for the policy were we told about this requirement. We never said we were with our prior carrier that long, nor did our agent mention that requirement. Adrienne says that we can file a petition of reinstatement, but it wouldn't be handled until at least Monday, July 11th and we would still be uninsured until then. At this point, we become quite nervous. It turns out we hadn't had coverage for over a month and we still wouldn't for at least several more days. Not wanting to risk anything, we sign up with Progressive for a policy to make sure we are covered. We end up having to pay an extra $20/month more than Allstate, and $50/month more than State Farm would have been.
The agent that we had worked with, Brett, was located in Logan, UT. Logan is in the very northern part of Utah. We are located in the very southern part of Utah. We happen to have a friend up in Logan and had her go by our agents office to see if anyone was there. We had still been calling his office number and had yet to get anything other than endless ringing. She gets to the office and the door has their hours listed as Monday - Saturday, 8am to 5pm. No one is there. There are desks inside with papers and computer monitors visible. She was at the office on Thursday, July 7th at 1pm and again at 3pm. That should have been normal business hours. She took a few pictures and left.
That afternoon, we contacted the Utah insurance department who was quite concerned with what had transpired with our agent and Allstate. They had us fill out and submit to them a complaint which they have received along with copies of letters from Allstate and our bank along with pictures of the office in Logan. That matter is currently pending investigation.
July 8th. We had continued to call our agent's office without any answer. That afternoon, the number started to give a busy signal. A little while later, someone answered! I ask for our agent, Brett Turley. I'm told that Brett was selling or had sold his agency and that they were handling Brett's policies. I told him that we had filed a complaint with Allstate and the state of Utah about Brett and were working directly with Allstate at this point.
On July 12th, we get a call back from Adrienne with Allstate . She says that Allstate was unable to reinstate our policy or issue a new policy backdated to May due to the extended lapse in coverage. Yes, we were denied coverage from Allstate because we were lied to and deceived by our agent for Allstate. This was not met with any measure of joy. After some complaining to Adrienne about the whole thing, we came across some information that they weren't aware of. The fact that our agent submitted our bank a policy sometime in the middle of June, several weeks after the policy had been canceled. With this information, Adrienne submitted another petition for reinstatement.
Thursday the 14th, Adrienne calls back and says they again declined the policy and that there was nothing further they would do. After some more complaining to Adrienne about the absurdity of the whole thing, we asked her what we were supposed to do given the situation. She had no answer, only saying that in our situation, she probably would have done the same thing and dealt with her agent.
That's where everything stands at the moment. Our only real hope is that the Utah Insurance Department can get Allstate to do the right thing or at least put some hurt on our agent or Allstate.
I am completely at a loss. What were we supposed to do? Were we supposed to assume that an Allstate agent, who you can still find on the Allstate website, was lying to us for several months? Were we supposed to assume that the agent was deceiving us? Were we supposed to assume that the agent would write up a policy that we didn't qualify for? I am assuming that by April or May he realized he messed up and it wasn't something he could fix. He was probably already planning on selling his agency and only need to drag things along until after the sale was completed and he wouldn't have to worry about it anymore.
What am I supposed to do now? I am stuck paying $50/month more for my auto insurance than I should be. I'm trying to find out from Progressive how much more I'm paying and how long I'll pay extra for my coverage because of the lapse.
Allstate needs to reinstate the policy backdated to May 26th without any charge and should refund the money I had paid for the policy. It's really the only way that Allstate can make things right at this point.
TL;DR - Allstate agent lied to us for months telling us our policy was fine when it had actually been canceled over 40 days ago. Our agent has now become unreachable and is selling his agency. Allstate is refusing to help.