A while back I received a reimbursement check from AutoNation for two days of auto rental resulting from accident repair to my car. But, it really wasn’t AutoNation’s check to write. AutoNation took it as an opportunity to make a customer happy.

Liberty Mutual, on the other hand, ignored the opportunity to gain a new customer. Here’s how it all went down:

  • A Liberty Mutual policy holder hit my car while parked on Oct. 22.
  • I called Liberty Mutual to report the accident details.
  • I had to chase Liberty Mutual to get in touch with the adjuster (who was calling the wrong number).
  • In our first conversation, the Liberty Mutual adjustor was rude, dismissive and condescending; wasn’t I the victim here? With no estimates, he was already emphatic they would cover only three days of rental regardless of how long it would be in the shop.
  • His preferred shop wouldn’t be able to do the repair until late December.
  • As the car was just three months old, I proposed we use the dealership’s collision center. AutoNation Collision could get it done right away. The adjuster agreed, but I had to chase him to get approval to schedule.
  • I dropped off the car; later that day the shop called having found additional damage. They submitted a revised cost and time estimate to Liberty Mutual. The shop claims a full week passed before they received approval on the additional repairs from Liberty Mutual.
  • During the process, the Liberty Mutual adjuster quit returning my messages. I left a voicemail for his boss, but never heard from her either.
  • Got the car back after seven days.
  • After dropping the rental off, I learned that Liberty Mutual extended the rental to 5 days; they never followed up with me on this. Both the rental car agency and the shop said Liberty Mutual would extend it. I tried again and again to call the adjuster.
  • I tried the adjuster’s boss again and caught her at her desk; she blamed AutoNation for a staffing problem and wouldn’t extend the rental to cover the additional two days (weekend days).
  • Having exhausted my options directly with Liberty Mutual, I took to Twitter to complain. They said they’d refer the case to their “Presidential Service Team.” I pressed after 10 days of silence and the Liberty Mutual Twitter rep said the decision was final and referred to the conversation I’d had with the adjuster’s supervisor before I commented on Twitter. So what exactly was the purpose of the “Presidential Service Team”?
  • In the end, AutoNation paid the measly $83 and explained that Liberty Mutual wouldn’t pay it because they “didn’t like my approach.” I assume that means they don’t like people complaining on Twitter. I also assume that “policy” is more like a “guideline” at Liberty Mutual.

I find it interesting that there were numerous opportunities for Liberty Mutual to gain my trust and impress. They could have scored all my auto insurance. Instead, they communicated poorly, blamed me and others and never took responsibility.

AutoNation, however, did impress. They communicated effectively and regularly and took responsibility even for issues they didn’t own. I’ll use them regularly going forward. AutoNation leveraged the situation to gain my loyalty.

Every situation like this should be viewed as an opportunity to build brand and gain new customers. In the competitive arena of insurance, when are you going to get another opportunity like that?