A Tale of Two Bumpers



Once upon a time, I was driving home in my beloved Hyundai Elantra. I was sitting quietly in the turn lane, waiting for the green arrow, after dark.


I looked around, saw a large silver pickup behind me. I drove to the nearest parking lot, stopped, got out. The driver was a 16 year old girl in her dad’s pickup. “My foot slipped off the brake.” (Wouldn’t have happened if you were driving a standard, you ninny, because we were on flat ground!)

Fine. We exchanged insurance information. In the light of day I noticed a biiiig dent in the back bumper that I hadn’t seen at the parking lot. So I called their insurance for a claim. It was Geico. I have Progressive.

Geico says “fine, we’ll fix it or we’ll pay for it.” It sounded good. Now, a dent in a modern bumper involves replacing the shell that is over the real bumper. It’s about a thousand dollar repair, typically, if you use factory parts. Geico tried to tell me they could take the dent out by restretching the plastic. I talked to my mechanic, he said no, you need to replace the shell, because that area is going to be weak and you can’t just fix a dent in plastic. Not one like that, anyway.

More go-arounds between Geico and Progressive, and Progressive didn’t do squat to help me. I was being about $480 to pay for the repair. In the mean time, I was having to drive this modern Chevy rental while my car was in the shop, waiting to be fixed.

The Chevy was a whole other issue. The modern love of side impact air bags meant it had high doors, the car had a high stance, and the side posts were so thick it affected visibility. It had a million distractions and creature comforts inside but it drove and felt like a bubble.

The fight with Geico continued.  They kept wanting to only cover substandard repairs.  Eventually the claims adjuster became such a problem that my mechanic had to throw him off his lot – and Geico magnanimously offered a whole $90 extra… so I decided to give up the effort, turn the renal back in, and get my car back. I wanted to drive a real car again.

Now, I returned my carefully watched, pristine Chevy back to Enterprise. They did an inspection and found an almost invisible bit of spidering in the paint. The said I was liable for it – even though I hadn’t run into anything and had parked in protected areas. The said “oh, for damage like that, you have to replace the whole bumper cover, it’s a $1200 repair!”

Luckily, my partner kept at them till they agreed to look back at the last three renters of that car to see if any of them had reported damage. Eventually I got a letter back saying I was cleared of all liability.

I don’t want to deal with Geico again, they acted like crooks. Enterprise didn’t make me happy either. And I never, ever want to drive a modern Chevy again!

Give me my high performance, road hugging, good visibility, standard transmission, low distraction, 2006 Hyundai Elantra any day, dents or no. She’s tried and tested.

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