Insurance co requires repair quotes on letterhead? My pleasure!

My husband and I bought a boat in a storage lot to flip. We spent months of time and buckets of money to fix her up, and we were getting close to being done. The work included painting and rehabbing the mast (the stick that holds the sails), which was being stored in a cradle next to the boat. It was well inside our space but it did extend beyond the boat itself a few feet so we marked it with a neon orange safety cone.

Just days after painting the mast, my husband called me from the storage lot with the news that someone had damaged it. Turns out the facility’s camera caught the rat trap guy drive right into the mast, knock it to the asphalt, drive OVER it, stop, then back over it!! Naturally, he didn’t leave a note but his truck was easily ID’d and he fessed up when confronted.

He didn’t want to go thru insurance, so we worked up a figure based on us buying used gear (most of it Not Cheap) to replace what was broken and doing all the work ourselves for free. I think it was less than $1000, and anyone who knows boats will know what a bargain that was. Even so, he decided to go thru insurance after all.

The agent who called us needed a quote from a business, not just our scribbled estimate, so I contacted our local cheap boatyard for a DIY quote (they’d just store the mast while we did all the work). That bumped the total we were seeking to about $2500. We spent five months trying to get the agent to respond, and when he finally did, it was to say they couldn’t accept an emailed quote, it had to be an attachment on letterhead. (The rinkydink yard only sends quotes in the body of emails because they have zero forks to give.) He all but called us liars and scammers who could have had their buddy supply this fake-looking estimate. No, company policy required at least two quotes on letterhead to move forward. I confirmed that he would not be able to process our claim without those two quotes. Correct. I also confirmed these yards could be anywhere in the state. Correct. I warned him the new quotes would be significantly higher, but he snidely said that was fine, as long as they were on letterhead.

Cue malicious compliance (and some FAFO).

Having worked in the boating industry for most of my life, I knew exactly who to call: the two most respected (ie expensive) boatyards in the state. These quotes included the yards doing all the work, replacing all damaged gear with new, storage fees AND transportation to and from our storage lot. Both were hundreds of miles away.

Unsurprisingly, he called as soon as he got the quotes asking if he could pretty please use the rinkydink yard’s quote. “Oh, you can’t do that, you might get in trouble since it’s company policy, right? We’ve got to follow all the rules lest someone think we’re scammers. Right?” He wasn’t happy.

A week later, we got a check…for the original quote we scribbled down for the rat trap guy! Guess the agent decided to see if we’d just bend over after he called us liars and cheats. Uh uh, no way. I called our insurance, who got on the line with the other agent and gave him what for. Two days later, we got a second check for the remainder.

I’m sure someone spit on it, but I was happy enough to deposit that $14,000.

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