This was posted to the “Altos de Maria” Yahoo Discussion Group
Auto Insurance … My View
Posted by: “Bob Askew” firstname.lastname@example.org rtaskew
Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:18 am (PST)
First … I want to say that I am no expert on auto insurance in Panama; however I am a careful observer, and I have experienced first-hand insurance issues and claims here.
I’ve been living here full-time (with a car) for over 3 years and have had my cars insured with Kevin Bradley.
Kevin is also a friend; we grew up together in the former Canal Zone. After he went to Texas A&M, he returned to Panama and has been here doing insurance since the early 70’s — first with the US military and Americans working with the canal, and then mostly Panamanians and now he’s doing a lot of Expat business.
Me? … I did a military career, retired and moved back here to live.
Just watching and observing Kevin do business and deal with clients, I have gotten a bit of an insight into how some of this works:
– Car insurance rates from the different companies are very much the same; i.e., same coverage means pretty much the same rate. The rates are set by the government! Logical, no?
– I’ve seen several times where Kevin provides a quote and competitors beat it. If rates are about the same, then there’s a good reason why you get a lower quote. You must compare apples to apples.
Sure, your salesperson says its the “same” coverage, but watch out for BS … if you don’t think its a cultural, normal way of doing business here to deceive, you’re living in la-la land. It happens over and over in practically all areas of life here.
I seen and heard it here over and over — with loans, sales agreements, contracts, etc.. What you are TOLD ends up to be quite different from what the written contract/agreement says.
Also, some of the other agents may be tempted to cut their commission to give you a better rate. So then I ask you … how motivated are they to help you when you REALLY need him or her to help you, i.e., when there’s a claim or a problem? Is this a person new to the insurance business?
– Claims — Your sales guy or gal who gave you that great quote, will he or she be there to hold your hand and help you through the claims process? In American English?
I DID have an accident and HAVE been through the claims process. I reached Kevin on his cell immediately. He helped me with the immediate issues and shepherded the whole thing through the claims process.
Will your sales person do that or tell you to “talk to the adjuster?” Will he or she say “No hablo ingles” or not answer the phone or return your call?
I can only tell you my experience and observing Kevin doing business. I’ve been with him personally several times while he visits insurance companies to get the claims process moving or clear up bureaucratic holdups. If you haven’t experienced bureaucratic “holdups” in Panama, just wait …
I’ve been with Kevin when he’s “forcefully” (some call it yelling) at adjusters and insurance companies to get his clients a fair deal. Face it — despite all the advertising BS (like … “You’re in Good Hands” etc.) the insurance companies ARE NOT in the business of paying nice claims quickly.
You want to be in “insurance hell” ? Just sign up with some of these people who give you a great rate. But you should ask for references of clients who have gone through the claims process.
Lastly, I had a former girlfriend whose high-rise apartment had not one, but TWO water leaks which flooded and damaged the apartment below. She had insurance through Kevin and it was settled quickly and fairly.
So if you want to shop insurance rates, treat it like a commodity and buy the lowest price by all means do so. You may be lucky and never have a claim, never have a problem or never hit another car.
Read a bit about auto insurance in English here on Kevin’s site:
Remember that Panama graduates thousands of lawyers every year. You as a gringo have dollar signs written all over you … like it or not. You hit a little POS car and see what happens.
Your mileage may vary.