It will be easy peasy. Let’s eavesdrop on a typical case.
So you got a new car? Great, it’s time to sign up for your car care insurance plan. Come on in.
First, there are three general types of plans, roughly based on how much they cost. The Earth plan is the cheapest, next there’s Sky, which is in the middle. The most expensive plans are called Crystal, and most of the people who get those drive real expensive cars and are frankly, loaded.
How about an Earth plan. I don’t expect I’ll need it often, unless something really unusual comes up.
OK, we can look at them, but I have to warn you—they’re cheap because they cost you little at the outset—but when you need something, either because of an accident, or a breakdown, your out-of-pocket will be high. Earth plans are like, you only pay a little and hope like heck you won’t ever have to talk to the insurance company. Because as soon as you contact them—even for a simple repair like replacing points or plugs—your policy really won’t cover much of anything, and you’ll pay full price, or nearly.
So tell me about a low-end Sky plan.
Well, about 70% of our people get a Sky plan. There’s lots of options within the Sky realm. But now that we think you’ll probably want a Sky plan, there’s another preliminary decision that will help find you the best plan for you.
Well, I already said I’m a good driver and I want a plan on the cheap end of things.
So, then I need to know how much you use your car, and how intense that use is. There are three levels. First is the 45 MPH option, which is for people who use the car not so much, and usually for routine things. You know, the stereotypical schoolteacher who drives two miles to work every day, buys milk on the way home, and doesn’t really do much else.
That’s not me.
Well, on the high end, there’s the 90 MPH option. That’s for really high, intense use. Like a traveling salesperson who’s always on the road, and spends his spare time birding in Wyoming, or following the Graceful Death or whatever their name is, or driving around to Society for Creative Anachronism or Star Trek conventions.
That’s not exactly me, either. What’s the other one?
It’s the 60 MPH option, and it’s the one most people pick.
OK, put me there. Are we done?
No, actually, now we can start. There’re lots of options within the Sky 60 MPH option, so before we start looking at specifics, I want to get a general idea of what kind of driver you are.
I’m a good, safe, driver. I don’t text and drive.
Great, but I need a little more than that. These are just some questions to get us closer to choosing the details of your plan. So, how many flat tires do you expect to get in the next year?
How am I supposed to know? Once I got three in a month, then went years without…
Just think about it and give me a guess…I’ll code it all out, then we’ll pick a plan.
How many fender-benders?
Uh, one. I just don’t know.
How many oil changes?
How many times locking your keys in the car?
Never. Almost never. Now that you mention it, I’ll probably do it this week. I really can’t guess.
Well, if you don’t guess, I don’t have much to go on to get you the best plan for you. Now, continuing…
How many radiator problems?
How many times sideswiping a parked car?
How many hailstorms? Floods?
One of each?
No, one of either. .5 of each.
How many collisions with 18-wheelers?
How many DUI’s?
Are you sure? Because if you tell me zero, and we factor that in, you won’t get any help if it happens.
OK, two, just to be safe.
How many head-on crashes with pickup trucks?
How many road slide-offs?
How many little old ladies run over?
(Significant portion of tape skipped over.)
So, we’re almost done with this part—now I need some approximate percentages. What percent of the time will your car be used for each of the following kinds of things…
a) driving six blocks to the 24/7 convenience store to buy cigarettes, beer, Doritos, slim jims, and tampax
b) a daily three-hour commute to your job at the medical software job center
c) malls & bar-hopping
d) long trips for rock-climbing and Burning Man
This is just an estimate to help pick you the right plan—after your first year we’ll be able to calculate it exactly, since we’ll have access to all of your on-board computers which will report all this anyway.
OK—this is absurd—ten, forty, ten, ten.
Great, but that’s only 60%.
Actually, it’s 70%.
OK, but what about the other 30%?
Just put down the rest for OTHER. I don’t know how much longer I can continue this.
OK, now answer the same questions for anyone else who might be driving the car.
(Large tape section untranscribed, beginning with an expletive-filled section.)
OK, congratulations, you are the proud owner of a Beige Unbound 20-20 Sky Level 60 MPH Car Care Insurance plan.
Want some Skittles before we continue?
Now that you have car care insurance—like I said, yours is called Beige Unbound 20-20, Sky level 60 MPH Option–you need to pick a primary repair person. This person will be your gateway to everything, so you have to start here. It’s the first one you’ll see when you have any kind of a car problem, and one who has power, sort of, over who you can be referred to without paying extra, and that kind of thing…So, it’s an important choice….
Of course you can always go to specialists—they cost more—beaucoups more if they’re out of the network–but pick a primary repair person first so we can get this insurance all set up.
Before we actually look through the bios, I need to ask you, do you have any particular preferences…..you know, would you be more comfortable with a white european person, or an african-american, or a gay or a straight, or a woman or a man, an older person or a young one…
Isn’t that illegal? I just want the best car repair guy I can afford—I mean, person.
Well, it’s a way of limiting the possibilities, I mean, I’ve got the site open—do you want me to read you, like 535 bios?
No. I want to get my car insured before the car rusts out. Maybe even today.
Well, we want a good fit, and frankly, people do have preferences.
All right, I’ll play. German, yes. Hispanic, no. Italian, South African, yes. Danish, Swedish, yes. Brazilian, no. Wait, maybe yes.
How about Indian?
India Indian or Indian Indian? Wait—I don’t care. Russian, no. Ukrainian, yes. Cuban woman, yes; Cuban man, no. French (long pause)…oui. Polish, Lithuanian, neutral. Armenian, no. Amish, yes.
We don’t have Amish.
OK, whatever. Gay or straight, I don’t care, but no trannies. Any age. No, wait, any age over 30. And under 70.
OK, that’s a good start. Now what about the training, interests, background, and education of your primary car repair person—we just call it your Primary.
Do you want a Primary—these are just examples…
- who specializes in race cars?
- who is a fuel-line specialist?
- who knows about alternative fuels like biofuel, natural gas, and electric?
- Ah, here’s one who’s a station wagon specialist
- there are some who know a lot about good mileage
- one who’s great on tires & brakes
- another who’s trained especially in clutches and transmissions
- one who’s good at body work….
- oh, here’s a good one—electrical and wireless systems
- here’s another who did special study in AC/heating and window design & repair
- here’s one who’s good on prep for special conditions, you know…like hauling I-beams, living in your car, driving in deep snow, through sloughs in Louisiana, over washboarded dirt tracks, and that kind of thing…
Um, it’s a new car, with nothing wrong yet, sitting out in your lot. I don’t know what I’ll need in the future.
Well, just pick something that’s important to you.
It’s all important, I mean, mileage, body work, gears…
I could give you some more bio information, if you want…
You mean like people who do grey, silver, and white cars versus blue, green, and purple cars?
No, not really.
Well, I don’t want the one who specializes in red or black cars, that’s for sure.
OK, I’ll factor that in. I’ve got some more…here’s one who knows a lot about foreign cars, here’s one who’s an expert in mufflers and exhaust systems—did I already say that? Here’s one who does suspension and struts, here’s a family car expert…
Family car expert, what’s that? Maybe that would be good.
Oh, that would be, like, boring cars that don’t go real fast, aren’t sporty, aren’t going to be used for extreme sports or drug-running, get OK mileage but not great, maybe hauling a kid or two and a dog to a soccer game or the grocery store…
Yeah, that sounds good, Family car expert. How about that one?
OK, I’ve got your preferences. Now, we need to look into locations. Let’s see, where do you live again? Daytona Street? OK. For you, we’ve got seven locations with Primaries within twenty miles. We’ve named all the locations after birds, just so you don’t confuse this car repair insurance network provider with others.
The closest Primary Repair Person location to your residence is…our Starling location. Next closest is Pigeon. Robin is far east on the edge of town, Sparrow is west of town, and Nuthatch is south, on the other side of the industrial park. Chickadee and Oriole are both in nearby cities or towns. Nearby being a relative concept.
Well, since I live here, and my car is here, I want a Family Car expert at the Starling location for my Primary.
Mmmmmmm……there aren’t any Family Car experts available at the Starling location.
OK, at the Pigeon location.
Let’s see, there is one Family Car expert at the Pigeon location, but he is totally booked with appointments for the next seventeen months, so, you wouldn’t be able to get any attention for you car until…
I get it. OK, a Family Car Primary at Robin, or Nuthatch.
Let’s see…there is one with openings within the next 6 months, at Nuthatch—that would be a 13-mile trip for you one way and it’s not on the bus line….it’s a transgender Canadian male.
OK, forget the Family Car thing. How about a Primary who’s into either good mileage, or, uh, clutches & transmissions….and try again for Starling or Pigeon.
Let’s see, we’ve got a good mileage at Pigeon, with special studies in electrical, who’s Irish, a 43-year old male, with openings in the 7-8 month range. And, a clutches & transmissions at Starling, German, gay, with a minor in wireless. One opening in about four months and then not another one for ten months.
Like I said, my car is fine now, but, certainly eventually I’ll have problems. Are you implying that I should automatically grab the first appointment available, because if I don’t I’ll have to wait months to get my issues addressed after they arise?
Yup. The drill is, you sign up for a Primary, and set up an appointment whether you need it or not, now, because when you actually need it you won’t be able to get an appointment for six months or a year. Unless you want the emergency service, which a) is not covered by your Beige Unbound 20-20 Sky Level 60 MPH Option insurance plan, and b) costs you $500 a pop up front even if that’s more than the service costs.
I don’t have emergency repairs in my insurance plan?
Well you do, sort of, but you chose the “emergency silver lite” option in the Beige Unbound 20-20 Sky Level 60 MPH plan. Your coverage is only for a flat tire or a tow, and not if a barking dog is involved. Also, it only applies within five miles of your residence, which does not cover your work place or your favorite bar. Which I don’t even know about.
OK back to the Primary. I guess I’ll take the gay German four months from now, in clutches & transmissions at Starling.
Excellent choice. Before you show up for that appointment, be sure to have your secure card scanned and laminated, and the number entered into your online secure account. Your car will have to have been washed within the previous six hours, with nothing sticky on the interior surfaces. Bring with you a log of any gasoline purchases, oil changes, transmission fluid additions or changes, antifreeze additions, and brake fluid levels since your purchase or last appointment with you car repair primary. If anyone else has driven the car you need to bring a complete log of when and where they took the car, with a record of any concomitant fluid alterations.
So, I’ve gotten a little lost. This appointment is covered by my insurance, right?
Of course. Completely. That’s the whole point. As long as nothing is discovered that needs repair. It’s a check up, and if everything checks out, it’s free. However, if your primary finds anything that needs repair—and just because I like you, I’ll let you know that this includes underinflated tires, a brilliant stroke, that—then it’s more than a checkup, it’s a diagnosis, which is a whole other kettle of fish. As they say, “other conditions apply.”
But isn’t that the whole purpose of a check up? To find things wrong when they’re minor, and fix them?
Sure, but then it’s no longer just a check up. It’s a diagnosis! That costs.
Now, to finish up, we’ll need to settle your deductibles, on any possible service, your annual maximum excluding specialists, and what repair people in Montana are in your chosen network…
I’ve gotta go. I feel like driving the car off a cliff.
Not covered, unless you’re pushed by an 18-wheeler with a driver who’s stoned but has not exceeded the 12-hour rule…
(door and traffic noises)
Zounds, my car has a flat.
Well, you’re not insured. The paperwork hasn’t gone through yet…
(garbled)…there’s a Mexican kid here who says he’ll fix it for twenty bucks.
If you go outside the network, there are conseque-
(tape breaks off)