Life’s a TRip: Episode Five

By Ojijaak

With less than a month left before Nokomis and I depart for Tipp City, it is time to perform some boring housekeeping chores. These include a change of insurance coverage, completion of a new vehicle registration for Polly, some lodging arrangements, and, at some point packing. None of these is or will be exciting, none enjoyable (some far less so than others), but all absolutely necessary. Damn.

I have taken my road atlas from the bookshelf to evaluate the alternatives. The trip to Ohio is of little significance. If I travel by the route identified as “fastest,” I will be on Interstate routes almost exclusively, but without sacrificing more than two hours, I can travel far fewer miles. I have yet to make a final decision.

I know that I can drive as far as Topeka in one long day, as I have done that before. A second long day would end in the Dayton suburbs, and I have made that journey as well. Both days, though, are nothing less than arduous.

The alternative is to remain on Interstate routes for three shorter days of boring – let me amplify that description – very boring travel. Neither option is terribly attractive.

Complicating the decision further is the consideration of road conditions through flood-stricken areas of the Plains and, unavoidable in either case, Missouri. In theory, the Interstate highways will at least be open, while state or US highways may be closed or re-routed at any point. I lean toward the older roads if only because doing so may well provide better ability to plan the westbound route with Polly. I really do not care about what risk I may take in a car owned by a rental company.

The insurance has been addressed. Sort of. Like most “collector car” owners, I have maintained coverage of my LBCs with a well known insurer of special vehicles. When Polly came off the road in 2017, I reduced her coverage to reflect that of a car in restoration and reconstruction. Obviously, she is required to have proper coverage on the road before she can be registered in her new home state. I called the insurance company and requested that Polly’s status be restored to full coverage effective June 3. No problem – I was told. I sent a message to Mark Macy to advise him that Polly would resume coverage on that date, and with whom she is insured. Mark responded with thanks and the suggestion that he and I should discuss insurance options as he has had some clients who have experienced difficulties with claims when using my insurer. I am happy to discuss his experiences when I arrive, and I have told him as much.

Now, to collect all the documents required for Polly’s registration. My next trip to the license bureau will be my fifth. Each time, I have been told that I do not have all the essentials, and a new document or two has been added to my list. As a result, Tojo and Annie are both registered – illegally (and I don’t care) out of state. Anyway…I need proper proof of insurance for Polly.

So…I went to my insurer’s website, logged in, found my documents, and…no insurance card for Polly, just Annie’s.Perhaps it was early because it was not yet June 3, so I waited. On June 5, I repeated the log in only to find no card for a Triumph. I called the 800 number, waded through the insipid phone menu options, and, finally, I spoke with a human being – I think.

I explained my problem: No insurance card, and, Presto! No problem; in fact, the young gentleman would make the change and email the required documents. As good as his word, just a few minutes after I got off the phone, I received an email with attachments.

Unfortunately, upon opening the attachments, nothing had changed. No card for Polly. Now angry, I called again, and, once again, I played stupid human tricks with the phone menu, thus becoming angrier and much more frustrated. A different voice answered, no surprise, and I explained my problem once again. This person, a woman this time, asked that I hold while she reviewed some information in my file.

I was left on hold for several minutes listening to – what else? – oldies from the 60’s. I suppose that is appropriate for a “classic car” insurance company. Finally, she returned to my call to explain that the only change that had been made was to move the cars to our new state. Polly’s coverage had not been restored. You would just have to know me personally to fully appreciate my reaction to this bit of news. After all, I had paid my full annual premium as quoted for both Annie and Polly, right? This after explaining that Polly was nearing completion of her restoration, and was about to be driven across the country, right? Nope. That call did not end well.

Next, a call to American Express (God love them) to dispute the premium payment while I explored my options. Bingo! The $391.00 payment would be withheld pending resolution. Only a few times have I had to resort to this tactic, but it is good to know that American Express, unlike my bank debit cards, will tell a merchant, “No,” when a cardholder makes a legitimate request.

The problem is that time is short, and taking pictures of Polly for a new insurer’s file is not an option. First, she is a thousand miles away, and, second, she is not yet fully assembled. Oh, hell.

Polly has her dashboard.

Back to the phone menu. First, I advised that the $391.00 payment would be withheld by American Express. Next, what can you guys do for me to make me less hostile given that you have less than a snowball’s chance to make me happy. A calmer, but more stern come to Jesus meeting ensued. Coverage made complete, roadside assistance, all the bells and whistles, etc. Call ended, email lit up, and, sure enough, there appeared a new policy including proof of insurance cards for a 1967 MG B and a 1975 Triumph TR6. Note to self: Be sure to talk to Mark Macy about best insurance options. Just a guess, but I think that Polly and Annie may have a new insurance provider this time next year. Oh, yes, and I did call American Express to advise them to allow the disputed payment to proceed.

Now, for the license branch. I must await a VIN inspection by, I presume, an Ohio cop before I can make my next (and final, either way) trip to see these geniuses. If I get the same dog and pony show that I have seen on my four previous trips, Tojo, Polly, Annie, and I will be illegal residents. I don’t give a damn.

It would be well if the unfortunate clerk who draws my number on that future day could be made aware of just how terribly frustrated I have become already. He or she might want to drop a couple of Valiums. Those who have never had the experience of seeing me perform in full war paint and regalia just cannot imagine; those who have would most likely choose never to see a repeat. I will let you know how things turn out.


The rant:

Since this episode has been a rant in itself, one might think that I should use this space to write something nice. That would be out of character as well as defeating the purpose of the “below the line” segment.

Instead, I will offer a short afterword. All bureaucracies suck. Government entities and insurance companies represent the worst sort of bureaucracy. Remember: When you get something from either of these, you will already have paid for it in full (probably many times over). You cannot win from either without losing.

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