Tired of Insurance? Sometimes it Pays!


A tire blowout.

You know the feeling. Driving home with another couple on a Saturday night Feeling good after dinner and a glass or two of wine. Almost home and then you hear that annoying ding. You look at the car dashboard and see the warning shouting at you in bright red letters TIRE PRESSURE LOW. You grit your teeth, finish the drive home and promise yourself you’ll find a gas station with an air pump early the next morning and fill ’em up.

So that is what I did on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago. Drove over to the local gas station, the only one in the area that doesn’t have a credit card reader on its air pump. Traded in a few dollars for quarters from the not-too-cheerful clerk, and started to unscrew the valve caps from each tire (my car, for all its intelligent features, doesn’t let you know which tire is low.)

And that’s when I saw IT. The BULGE. My front passenger side tire had a tumor protruding from it, a growth the size of the mole on the Wicked Witch of the West’s chin. I hung up the air hose, and slowly and carefully motored home.

Believe it or not, on a Sunday morning in the boonies you don’t have many options for tire repair and replacement. The Internet directed me to the one open tire dealer. Their technician took a look and the desk guy gave me the diagnosis. “Bubble Blow Out. You could burst the tire at any time.”

Now I suspect the damage had occurred when hitting a pothole a week earlier and I had driven about 500 miles since then, but now that I knew about the damage, there was no way I was going to drive on that tire to work the next day at my usual tollway speed of–well let’s just say I stick to the left lane.

“Can you replace it?” I asked.

“Well, we don’t have that exact tire. It’s an overpriced original equipment tire. But we have a similar one. The problem is you’ll have to replace both front tires to keep ’em matched.”

Always eager to keep things properly matched I agreed and within 20 minutes I had two new tires on my one-year-old car.

Now the good part. When I bought my car last November I was maneuvered? manipulated? cajoled? into buying Tire Protection Coverage. “We’ll cover any damage, anything except normal wear and tear,” the Sales Manager said. So early Monday morning I called the dealership and explained the situation. “Yeah, we sold you the policy,” the Service Manager said, “but we have nothing to do with making a claim on the policy. Here’s a phone number…good luck.”

So I called the warranty originator. “Put it in writing and email it to us,” they said. I did. And I sent them snail mail as well. All I was asking for was coverage for the one tire with the blowout. I didn’t think that was too much to ask.

In my communications, I asked for some acknowledgment that the claim had been received and for the file number it was being assigned to so that I would be able to do follow up down the road. A week went by; nothing. Another two weeks; more nothing. I told my self I would have to give them a call, something I knew would be unpleasant, all the while kicking myself in the posterior for buying the policy in the first place.

And then (sound of angels huzzahing in the background) it happened. A check in the mail, covering not just one tire, but both. The payment even included the dreaded tire disposal fee! I haven’t deposited the check yet, I may just have it framed.

Needing insurance sucks. Whether it be an Obama policy or travel insurance, you have to fight for every penny. But just this time, just this once, it worked. And I didn’t even have to beg.

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