It is so ironic — for sixteen years I was under the impression that we needed to save money for David’s college education. In actuality, we should have been heavily investing in the stock market in hopes of affording car insurance for a teenage male driver.
David is homeschooled so I thought he would qualify for a discount since he doesn’t drive to school; doesn’t participate in hubcap races while leaving the parking lot at day’s end.
He does drive to his part time job, where he perfects skills that will allow him to have an economically secure and independent future — a future in which he will be able to pay for his own car insurance. I thought he would qualify for a price break since it has been my observation that students with jobs are more responsible.
In addition, employed students are constructively busy instead of fighting boredom by driving aimlessly about town, boom boxes blaring, at risk for accidents that can occur when a driver cannot hear the approach of an emergency vehicle; speeding cars; screeching tires. Employed students are already financially contributing to the economy — something that too many adults in this country have still not gotten around to trying.
However, so far we have been unable to find any price breaks for hardworking, responsible, homeschooled teenaged drivers. In fact, we have come to the conclusion that insurance companies must rub their hands with glee, and grin like a Cheshire cat when they are asked to provide a quote to insure a teen driver.
GEICO was the most recent company to offend us with their obvious desire to profit off our son’s crime of being seventeen years old. Since their commercials assure potential customers of savings on insurance bills, I filled out an application. The form asked if there was a child under eighteen years of age in the home, and I noted that there was. The form asked if the spouse had been involved in an accident, which he hadn’t. The form provided no place for me to explain our son’s age, homeschooling status, or how, as responsible parents, we had him take driver’s ed early. GEICO was uninterested in the fact that David had had almost two years of driving practice with a parent prior to getting a license.
I was given a quote, which seemed high compared to the good ole days but one I could at least handle. I agreed to the price, gave my credit card number and, of course, my Social Security number… the one that was never meant to be used for identification.
I immediately received an email asking if I knew "David Taylor." I responded that he is my son. The next email asked me to describe a minor accident David had when a driver turned right into a traffic lane but never drove off. David looked left, saw no traffic, and pulled into the lane, assuming as even older drivers would, that any car interested enough to pull out into a traffic lane, would drive in it! She had driven away from the stop sign, then stopped in the lane. He hit her car so lightly that our little Ranger only received a crack in the plastic bumper. (Detroit and protective plastic bumpers…but that must wait for another column.) For that act, David may never be forgiven by companies like GEICO.
To make matters worse, GEICO (with State Farm and MEEMIC before them) have proclaimed themselves “Controller of the Keys,” thus usurping our right to make the parental decisions in our own household.
“Which vehicle does your son drive?” the representatives always ask. I respond, “He is a minor; we-the-parents own the vehicles; he drives whichever we give him permission to drive; whenever we give him permission to drive.” My answer is never acceptable so the agents inform me, “We’ll put him as the main driver of the truck.” At risk of repeating myself, I state, “As a minor, he drives the vehicle we give him permission to drive,” but the insurance companies insist on being the final decision makers; “We’ll put him as the main driver of the truck.” But of course…$$$$$$$$$
In turn, each company has proceeded to dig into the blackmail dossiers that insurance companies share and from which they draw information to use as they build their defamation cases against people:
What about this claim for repair of a stovepipe? “Well, your Honor, Michigan snow is very heavy and during one particular storm the snow shifted to slide down the roof and pulled down the metal chimney.” (What does that have to do with driving?)
What about this claim for damage on your camper? “Well, your Honor, a tire blew in Oklahoma City damaging a water tank and a wheel well…but wait! The insurance company never paid a dime! We paid for the repairs ourselves!” Doesn’t matter — you made a claim and they all count against you. (Applicability to getting car insurance?)
— and ’round and ’round it goes, with the customer kept forever on the defensive.
It soon becomes obvious that unless you never use your insurance, you will be forced to pay through the nose; that insurance companies are only interested in insuring people who never need insurance. So…don’t drive; don’t own a home; don’t ever get sick; don’t have children; don’t own household belongings; don’t travel…
I provided GEICO with a detailed explanation of David, his schooling, his character, his life style, his job…details that should matter when judging the responsibility of another person, GEICO soon (in minutes) made their official ruling:
Dear Linda Schrock Taylor,
Thank you for requesting an auto policy from GEICO.
We have adjusted your rates based on the following information found on your License / Claims Report.
09-17-2004 DAVID Other At-Fault Non-Serious
The new six-month premium is $2143.60 with a down payment of $540.00.
Please let us know if you accept or decline this new premium.
Please respond to this message via e-mail.
No money taken, no policy issue.
Yes, in a matter of minutes, they had ‘adjusted the rates’ from their original quote of $620 every six months — to a quote of $2,143.60 every six months!
Since David had only been involved in a “non-serious” accident, the company probably considers its policies and rulings as humane and generous.
I suspect that insurance companies have perfected, even if they did not invent, the use of threats, lies, exaggeration, blackmail. Their goal, as a cohesive group, seems to be one of forcing anyone and everyone to comply with their goal of becoming the major asset holders, even at the expense of young people trying to get a start in life. Possibly insurance companies, with their no-holds-barred control over the population, even set the stage for this new era of cruel, blind, ignorant treatment of others. I thought that blackmail was illegal — but then, if we only look about us, we notice that ever more companies and individuals push the limits of human decency further from sight.
Must parents pay $2,143.60 every six months so that their responsible teen can drive? What alternatives do parents have? Well, I asked that question of one insurance agent and I was told that I do have an alternative — I can confiscate my son’s driver’s license, turn it in to the licensing bureau, and request an official letter stating that the deed has been done. Sorry, I would rather raise a self-sufficient, hardworking young man instead of another person left to hang around the house or roam the streets, feeding off the State teat.
We have searched for more alternatives and have made a decision. We will buy our son a junker car thus providing him with the valuable experience, as the main driver of the vehicle, of getting his vehicle running. In the meantime, I will loan him the car which the insurance companies have decided I should drive. Surely there is still enough personal liberty left in America to allow me to loan my car to whomever I please. But, maybe not…
I do thank the honest insurance agent who gave me that good advice. I hear it is what parents of teenaged drivers are doing all across America. Not only does it give unwanted old vehicles a home, it is our only way to fight back against the insurance blackmail racket, while protecting our teens.
Linda Schrock Taylor [send her mail] is an educational consultant, homeschooling mom, and public school special ed teacher. She is available for presentations, inservices, and workshops.