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June 7, 2012

Trials and Tribulations

Chris Cavey

One week ago today I voluntarily took an early retirement from Nationwide Insurance after almost 32 years as their agent on Main Street in Hampstead. It was a smooth and equitable parting of the ways. I am thankful for the opportunities I had as one of their independent contractors.


Working with people everyday always made for interesting days. My skills range from incredible patience, unending abilities to listen to problems, and to just plain getting beaten-up on behalf of Nationwide almost every day. Most days at the agency involve the fielding and solving of problems, like my rates are too high, I had an accident/claim, or I forgot to pay my bill, and so on.


Just for fun I thought I would share some of the more odd moments of my career.


The first involved a family who called wanting to know if they had coverage for damage by a truck tire. It seems that an 18-wheeler lost an entire wheel – rim and tire – while northbound on I-83 in Parkton. The tire exited the highway picked up speed rolling down a steep embankment then crashed through the sliding glass doors of the policyholder's patio, breaking the couch in half, smashing an entertainment center and finally resting on the family room floor. No one was home – coverage provided.


The second involved an older, single lady who had just finished baking a cake, turned off the oven then cracked the oven door ajar to allow the cake to cool before proceeding to the grocery store for more baking supplies. Upon returning home her condo was full of black soot. Inside her oven was her ruined cake and a huge glob of molten plastic. Seems the fastener which held her large kitchen clock gave way. The plastic clock bounced across the stovetop and through the cracked open oven door – coverage provided.


The largest claim ever paid from my agency was a four-year legal battle where we paid out in excess of $5 million – for planting corn too close to the roadway. At an intersection in Baltimore County an individual did not stop at a stop sign and was struck broadside by another vehicle, which had the right-of-way. Three vehicles were damaged and two individuals were taken to the hospital in serious condition. All survived. My policyholder was a farmer who eventually was held liable for blocking the sight distance at the intersection – coverage provided.


The most outlandish claim was also a farm claim. The farmer was transporting his combine down a narrow county road in broad daylight – using a flag car in the front. The claimant approached the combine and veered off the road 120 yards in front of the oncoming piece of machinery into a ditch and struck a concrete culvert. The farmer stopped the combine to offer assistance at the accident and was blamed for forcing the claimant from the road causing the accident – claim denied. The policyholder was later defended by the company in a frivolous lawsuit.


A policyholder with a retail business had a customer trip in the parking lot and injured a knee. The business owner provided first aid and paid for same day medical care out of pocket. All was well and the customer continued to shop at the business for two years – then sued. The claimant alleged knee and spine injuries and the spouse simultaneously sued for loss of consortium. Nationwide investigated. Two weeks before the trial the alleged injured party was part of the winning team at a charity golf tournament – with a picture in the local paper holding the trophy. Claim denied – lawsuit dismissed.


In the course of almost 32 years, I have had people literally pound on my desk, scream at me and my staff, try to hit me with their car on Main Street and sit in front of me and just sob about both financial and personal problems.


I have insured both multi-millionaires and the homeless, who use their vehicles as a shelter, and each person had an interesting and unique story.


I am thankful for the opportunities afforded to me by Nationwide Insurance. I am thankful my uncle convinced me to study for my insurance license exam in 1979. I am thankful for the guy who took a chance on a skinny farm boy who wanted to be an insurance agent. My first policy was my own auto policy. After that I had to meet people and learned how to sell and how to listen.


Dealing with people and solving problems was both enjoyable and rewarding. I will miss it.


Now it is on to the next chapter in my life...


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