Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bicycle Commuter's Constructive Repsonse to Auto Insurance Spammer

I've helpfully indicated which discounts I believe I both deserve and qualify for

Dear Auto Insurance Spammer, let me run it down for you. I'm afraid I'm going to have to start off on a bad foot, but the middle section gets more informative, and I finish up with some strong constructive suggestions.

First, the part where you claim that your base of 40 million customers is a "neighborhood" is just, um, pure crap. A neighborhood is by definition a small geographical area that you can easily walk across or bicycle around at a slow speed. I'm all for density, but 40 million people packed into a square mile is a little too many bees in the hive for me. You've got 4x10^7 customers, that's great, just say so, the number speaks for itself, don't try to smash it forcefully into an ill-fitting metaphor.

Next, let's move on to the discounts I both deserve and qualify for, as well as discussing why I don't qualify for the others, along with ways that I might.

Multiple Automobiles Discount, No. I see that I am missing out on up to 20% off for insuring multiple automobiles through you, which up until recently might have been interesting, but we sold our multiples off, and are now a family of four with one motor vehicle. We do each own one or more bicycles, however, so perhaps you could see your way to offering a multiple bicycle discount. Any house which averages more than two bicycles per occupant would be pre-qualified.

Multi-line discount, No. Unless adding a line for insuring multiple bicycles would help.

Good driving discount accident-free discount: absolutely. I have no tickets or accidents of any kind for several decades of driving. Plus, as I drive only rarely now, and never use the car to commute, this record is likely to continue. 35% discount: bring it on.

Home-auto discount: not sure. I guess since we own one home and one auto, yes, possibly, technically? This just seems so geared toward multiple car homes, though, I'm not sure you have us in mind. Home-bicycle discount, we got that one nailed.

Home alert discount: totally. In addition to the home alarm and fire alarms that you mention, we also have carbon monoxide detectors, and exploding dye packs rigged on some of the bicycles. Or, at least the wish to rig up exploding dye packs. 

Having exhausted your list, I want to add a few more discounts that I deserve and qualify for.

Uninsured / Under Insured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, available and extended for cyclists who don't drive cars, or are full time bicycle commuters and only occasional auto drivers. On my current auto insurance policy, I have UM/UIM coverage, which I am please to note would cover me while cycling if I were hit by a motorist with no insurance. I guess what I am looking for here is something like the full UM/UIM coverage, with additional coverage for damage or theft of the bicycle I ride to work every day (zero deductible or what's the point), and some kind of equitable coverage for a car-lite household.

Decreasing congestion discount. By cycling to/from work every day on side streets and bike paths, I am removing one car from the streets and freeways, thereby decreasing congestion. Believe me, I've been there, been one of the creeping snotballs of automotive mucous choking my way slowly and painfully through the airways of the city on the way to work, with the suburbs coughing up their steel phlegm balls in the morning, and the city horking them back up at night, traffic congestion is no fun. Think of me on my bicycle as the guaifenesin of automobile congestion, there to loosen congestion and promote the discharge of automobile phlegm.

Stress lowering discount. I lower stress by my friendly waving at aggressive drivers, taking turns at four-way stops, smiling, offering hugs to drivers slamming their fists against their own steering wheels and screaming in frustration, and generally being a persistently happy bicyclist every day. I like to think of myself as a pavement peacemaker. I am conscientious and courteous to a fault. Throw me a bone here, I haven't displayed a middle finger to a motorist for at least five years.

Follow traffic laws scrupulously discount. We already covered the "no tickets" discount above, so that is probably a prerequisite for this one. But this one is the step above that, since it is my habit, my hobby even, to endeavor to be a rolling driver's manual on two wheels. I'm the type of cyclist who was thrilled recently to learn that the law of Arizona actually says that pedestrians who have to walk on the road should walk AGAINST traffic. Why was that thrilling? Because, contrary to some commonsense views, cyclists must NOT ride against traffic, we should ride with it, and so I guess I thought that also applied to pedestrians, but learned that it does not. On second thought, though, I probably wouldn't qualify for this one, since you would probably have to answer some of those absurdly rigged rules of the road questions, like the ones that begin, "An ambulance with its lights and siren on, a horse, an Army chaplain during a declaration of martial law riding a Segway, and a blind man riding an autonomous computerized pogostick converge from all directions on a street without markings or signage. A sink hole develops and swallows half the road, creating a dark, gaping maw with no apparent bottom. If the autonomous pogostick loses guidance and begins bouncing randomly around the road, then..."

The "I'm researching insurance that benefits cyclists" discount. Other than UM/UIM, are there other policies or companies that a full time bicycle commuter should know about, or have? Other discounts I may have overlooked? Anyone heard of an employer that gives health insurance discounts for bicycle commuters, for example?


  1. This is concern of mine, I guess now that we are married I am covered by the scientists car insurance, but for a while there I didn't have UM/UIM coverage, which worried me.
    Ma is experimenting with Vehicle Miles Travelled insurance where you pay less when you drive less, which is intriguing.

    1. I should look into that UM/UIM too. I do a combination car/bike commute every day - I have a folding bike that I keep in my trunk and ride once I'm 7 miles or so from work. Since I'm insuring the car anyway, it would be really nice to know if I'm also covered riding my bike. I've wondered, but wasn't sure it was possible. Glad to know it is

    2. We were looking at the company that gives you the dongle to plug into the car that records usage info to help set the rate, since I basically never drove it. I was afraid they would think I was lying, though, since it would have shown that the car would sit unused for weeks at a time, with a short trip on the weekend occasionally just to use it. Since we sold it that is no longer a concern, but I am still looking for some equitable treatment as an insured who spends on average less than one hour per week driving.

  2. Actually, you don't qualify for the accident free discount because the fine print requires three years of accident free driving WHILE insured by the spamming insurance company. Sneaky!

    1. True I would not currently qualify, but I was using inference to conclude that I would in the specified time period, based on my past performance.

  3. A bit late to the party, but my insurance gives me a discount if I drive less than X miles per year (7000 I think?). Normally I drive my car only about twice per week to go to the grocery store and run some other errands. I'm still somewhat new to this state though and one of my goals is to try to see and do all the wonderful things this state has to offer, but that requires driving north and south several hours and I worry that over the course of the year I will exceed the limit for this discount. Fortunately (or not) the discount is not very big, knocking off about $15-20/mo off my bill.

    It would be great to have an insurance policy that more seriously took into account bicycle commuting. Since I moved here I have begun driving significantly less than I previously did and I now pay significantly more in insurance.

    1. raublekick, the more I think about it, the more I wonder what I am really asking. I think it's twofold, and also reasonable: A) for the insurance company to recognize that I rarely drive, probably 20 miles a month or less except for long family road trips a few times per year, and, B) that the auto policy my family pays for covers me if I am wiped out by a car on the road. (A) is tough to measure since we do have one vehicle that my wife drives, while (B) is somewhat handled by my current policy including the UM/UIM coverages we pay extra for (but not that much, really).


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