Thursday, January 06, 2011

Things To Avoid: Guardsman Furniture Insurance

We bought a bunch of furniture from Domain 3 years ago.  Though I normally avoid extended warranties and insurance - especially for stuff like this - one of the pieces was a light-colored upholstered sofa.  We didn't want to have some type of protective chemical applied to any of the furniture so we were going to decline the protection plan.  But the beauty of the Guardsman plan, or so we thought, was that it insured the furniture for 5 years against accidental breakage and even damage inflicted by youngers without applying any products to the furniture.  It's just a financial protection plan.  We paid $99 to insure the 4 pieces of furniture we bought.

We had a feeling the kids might mar the sofa in some way - and they did.  A red marker stain now stretches about 4 feet across the sofa.  It took a few days to track down the policy information and figure out the procedure for filing a claim with Guardsman.

I called them to report the damage about a week or two after it occurred.  While I was going through the hassle, I thought I'd get them to repair the back of an upholstered leather chair that was coming loose.  When I called they took down all my information and then E-mailed me claim forms.

One of the requirements spelled out on the claim forms was to submit a copy of the sales receipt showing we purchased the Guardsman protection.  I was hoping they'd have our information on file already but no such luck.  If we couldn't produce the sales receipt we'd be denied coverage.

Fortunately after much searching I was able to track down the sales receipt.  I filled out the forms, faxed them in, and waited.  A couple weeks later they left a message saying they needed some additional information.  I called back and they told me they were denying the claim because I took too long after the damage occurred before filing the claim.  They said their policy is that claims need to be filed within 5 days of when the damage occurs.

When I filled out the forms they asked when the damage occurred.  I arbitrarily said December 1st, not realizing it would be the information they'd use as justification for denying my claim.  The thing is - the loose back on the upholstered chair was a gradually occurring condition that didn't have a definitive date.  I told the claim agent I thought it was a ridiculously tight time frame to report a claim.  She said it was important to have a tight time frame because they didn't want stains to set before they sent a repair technician out to the house.  If that's true - why does it take 3 weeks to go through a claims process?  And what sense does that make in the context of damaged furniture having nothing to do with stain removal?

I think it's just one of many ways they deny claims based on technicalities.

The only thing that annoys me more than the aggressive sale of extended warranties and insurance plans is when the companies behind them make it difficult to file a claim then deny claims for minor technicalities.

I spoke to two agents, the second being Kristen, employee ID number 7001.  She seemed entirely too comfortable rejecting a claim outright for such a minor technicality, as if she did it all day.  I've filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Consumer Affairs Division of Insurance, and I wrote this blog.

With that, Guardsman, you're dead to me.  It's not the end of the world that our stupid furniture has some damage, but we paid you money to insure it and you failed to live up to your end of the bargain.  You know your operation is a sham.  I hope you go out of business soon.
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