This post will give some insight into just how difficult every tiny little step in this process has proven to be.
Back when we had a deal and a space and a plan, I decided I needed a truck. But I didn't want to just go ahead and buy a truck for the business, because after things were all settled down and the restaurant was running normally, I wanted to have the option of using my vehicle to drop the kids at childcare, if that proved to make more sense. But I figured I'd need a truck during the period that I was doing the build-out and equipping the kitchen, so I could make Home Depot runs and go to restaurant sales/auctions and haul deep fryers or what have you away on the spot. Often, with these sales, if you show up at the right time with a wad of cash and a truck to take it away, you can get really good deals.
So I called around to see what it would cost me to rent a pickup. I quickly realized that the normal rent-a-car places weren't an option. They wanted $1200 a month and up, plus wanted to charge me for mileage. $1200? The truck I had in mind could probably be bought outright for that much.
Then I called a few used car dealers. The best response I got was from the guy who asked me if I'd already made any calls and , if so, what did they want to charge me?
"Well, I'm asking you how much you'd charge"
"Well...that depends...what is everybody else quoting you?"
Are you kidding me, I thought? Do your own research, slimeball.
"A hundred bucks a month," I told him. Click. Apparently, he was not amused.
So then I put an ad on Craigslist and lo and behold, a few days later, I got an email from a guy who would consider renting me a truck that he might be buying in the next month or so.... Fairly dubious, but it was really my only hope. After much emailing and cell-phoning back and forth, we did come to terms and he agreed to rent me the truck for at least two months for $400/month. But, he said, I had to insure it.
"Well," I figured, "that shouldn't be very difficult". Heh.
So I contacted my insurance company, told them the situation, they made some calls to the underwriters, and a week or so later, told me it couldn't be done. I had to own the truck in order to insure it. I kept at'em, and then they told me that, maybe...just maybe...it might be covered under the package that I was purchasing to cover the entire restaurant. Some more time went by, my Truck Guy was working on purchasing, then fixing up, the truck, and eventually, word comes back from the insurance folks--yes! It will be covered under the policy I'm getting for the restaurant.
Well, those of you who are reading this blog know what happens next. The deal falls apart, there is no restaurant any more, and so, logically, we're not purchasing insurance to cover it.
We debated about whether to cancel the truck, but figured that now, since we're still looking for a space, I'd need a vehicle to run around checking places out, and plus we felt kind of bad that we had this guy do all this preparation for renting us the truck and now to cancel so far into it wouldn't be very nice, so we decided to take it, figuring it would at least make our lives that much easier for a couple months.
So...back to the drawing board with the wonderful insurance people. I called them last week and relayed the information about the new situation. Wouldn't my normal policy cover at least the liability part? As if I was borrowing a friend's car?
Nope. 'Course not. I asked my Insurance Lady to check into what the options were and she said she'd call me back the next day. This was last Thursday.
Fast forward to today, Wednesday. I still hadn't heard back from her, but today was the day we'd set up for me to take the train out to Joliet, where this guy lives, and pick up the truck. So I call her to follow up, and, then, while I'm waiting at the train station downtown, she calls me back.
Nope, she says. No one will cover it. It's not covered under my personal policy, because the insurance stays with the vehicle, not with the driver. "What I want to know," she keeps asking me, "is how he bought the car without having insurance?"
What does that have to do with anything, Insurance Lady? WHO CARES??? He probably bought it off some guy for cash. They don't tend to ask for proof of insurance before allowing you to drive away. And that has nothing to do with what I'm asking you to do for me. Please focus on the task at hand and JUST GET ME SOME DAMN INSURANCE, so I can drive this thing legally, without having to worry that if I get in an accident, I could lose my house.
Anyway, I'm clearly fed up with her on the phone and, eventually, I say to her "look--just do what you need to do to get me covered to drive this thing. I'm just trying to get basic liability insurance, so I can be legal. That's all. You should be able to do that. This shouldn't be this hard."
If it's possible for someone to look at you like you're scary and crazy through a phone line, that's what she was doing. She said meekly that she'd make some more calls to the underwriter and get back to me tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm picking up the damn truck in an hour. Thanks for nothing, Insurance Lady.
So, as I sit on the train, it occurs to me. Why am I dealing with this stupid insurance brokerage that takes forever to get questions answered just because we use them for our personal policies? There are hundreds of bottom-feeding insurance companies saturating the air waves with their stupid, mind-numbingly memorable commercials that would probably bend over backwards to accommodate my situation.
I dial 411 and ask for Geico, but they don't do policies for less than six months. I scour my brain for remnants of ads I've heard from other auto insurance companies, and come up with 1-800-Safe Auto. I dial it up, and....presto chango, four dropped calls and a brief delay in beautiful downtown Mokena later, I am reading the digits of my credit card number to the incredibly patient phone person and she's telling me that, yes, I am, as of right this very moment, insured.
Incredible. What my broker (who we've dealt with for years for all of our insurance) couldn't manage to do over the course of five weeks, this company did in 20 minutes. Perhaps the most amazing part of this story was the fact that not only did I have the VIN number of the truck written down, but I was actually had it with me and was able to locate it while I was on the phone with the person.
Small victories. They're all I've got right now, so savor them, I will.
After that whole episode, smooth sailing. Truck Guy picked me up at the train station, briefed me on the idiosyncrasies of the vehicle (it idles rough), I was psyched to see that it had a newer stereo with an mp3 hookup cable, and we went back to his house to sign the homemade contract that we had worked up and trade cash for keys.
So now, good readers, I am proud to announce that I am the proud
I believe him. Tomorrow I go scouting locations along Southport.