I hate that saying! But, unfortunately it’s oh so true. My last post was all rainbows and unicorns. Reflections on a delightful moment that filled my heart with joy. This post however will not be so joyful. Because like the title of this post S#$T happened last night. Here’s what happened… We drove into town to meet friends for dinner and then we were going to stroll through the Flower & Coffee Fair, well our evening out went terribly wrong at a police checkpoint. What we thought would be ‘no big deal’ because we had every piece of paperwork we needed to assure a random checkpoint goes smoothly ended with us standing on the side of the road with a hefty fine and waiting for our car to be towed away!
For those of you who don’t live here let me explain the random police checkpoints we often see here. They are ‘random’ and the police often ask to see your registration, insurance and drivers license. All of which we had, but… there was one little problem. Our car insurance paperwork, which was a recently renewed policy,( just updated in November), had an expiration date of the day I renewed the policy! So, it was invalid in the eyes of the friendly Police officer. Ugh! As I go on with my rant I must say, I’m extremely disappointed in our Insurance Agent. But, here in Panama one must tread gently when saying negative or possibly ‘slanderous’ things about people in public, so I won’t be mentioning any names or businesses. If any of my friends here want more specific information feel free to contact me privately.
So, The insurance agent is one who was highly recommend when we first moved to Boquete. And I remember feeling like we were in such good hands when we got our first policy with this person. The Agent walked us to our car as we left the office and shook our hands, smiling and telling us not to EVER hesitate to call if we needed anything at all, day or night. Wow! I thought, “Never before had an insurance agent said that to me”. We drove away feeling like this person would have our backs in an emergency and we felt good. Well fast forward to now, when we actually needed help, the agent most certainly did NOT have our backs! Just the opposite, the agent actually turned on us as though we were the enemy. In our minds we would call the agent, explain the error on our paperwork and all would be well. Nope! The agent actually yelled at me on the phone, bringing me to tears as I tried to explain what was clearly a typo on the paperwork the agents assistant had given me. It was horrible. To be standing on the side of the road, knowing we had done nothing wrong , and we were about to receive a hefty fine and have our car towed away!
I should not have been so shocked. We had been warned by others who have been in emergency situations with this same agent and had gotten less than professional service when they needed help the most. But, until your faced with this type of careless, unprofessional, uncaring even mean treatment by someone you trust, it just does not seem possible. To be yelled at by a professional who promised to care and to be there for you if you needed any help is shocking to say the least. As I began to crumble in tears while this person berated me and accused me of having the wrong paperwork, Scott took the phone from me and in his very calm, patient manner, after arguing about what was the agents responsibility he was finally able to get the agent to agree that IF the agent got into the office the next day to find it was indeed the assistant who made an error, then the agent will pay for the fine and the towing. Sheesh! IF??? IF??? Ridiculous! Can anyone please tell me how a brand new policy with a brand new insurance company that I just got in November could actually have expired the very month that I paid for it? And, how is that not the agents responsibility?
So, s!$t happens. And there’s lessons to be learned here. First, I’ll always check dates on paperwork from now on! Second, I’ll listen to friends who have bad experiences with professionals. Also, once again we have great friends here. Our friends who we were having dinner with were so supportive and kind when we finally made it to the restaurant. They cheered us up and it was great to spend the evening talking and enjoying the company of the healing energy of people who care about us. After dinner our plan had been to walk over to the fair and enjoy an evening exploring but we were really just not in the mood after all the drama. Since there was not a taxi to be found we called our neighbors Kat & Alan, they didn’t even bat an eye when I texted and said, “Can you come get us?”…They simply got in their car at 8:30 at night and drove down the hill to bring us home. We felt like two sad little kids who had had a bad day. hah! By this time I had enjoyed some wine with dinner and had thoroughly talked through our S#@tty experience with our friends so I was on my way to feeling much better about what had happened. The Agent is dead to me, but aside from that, all would be well.
In the end we’ll chalk this up to yet another new experience on this adventure! So many worse things could have happened, aside from me shedding a few tears (which, lets face it… isnt too hard to get me to do, I’m such a cry baby!) no permanent damage has been done. We learned that its time to search for a new insurance agent, good to know before we actually needed the agent for something that was an even worse emergency, only to be treated like the enemy. And, I forgot to say, the police office who pulled us over was so nice and before we walked away with our little bag of the few valuables from the car he was about to have towed away, we shook his hand. He was very nice and was only doing his job. The paperwork was wrong, and he had no choice but to do what was his job to do. We shook hands and he smiled and seemed kinda sad for us, and not a little surprised by our understanding. He even said he was sorry, and we said, “your just doing your job”. It’s too bad our insurance agent was not so professional. Isnt it amazing that the police officer offered us more kindness and consideration than someone who had professed that they would be there to help if ever we needed it?
On to the next part of this new adventure, trying to get our car out of impound. First we have to go to the agents office to try to get the correct paperwork. Then to the office in David to pay the ticket. Then to find the impound lot! Ugh! In case your wondering, my hummers are still delighting me and looking out my window Its an incredibly beautiful day, blue skies and wait….I think I see a unicorn…right over there…next to the rainbow….Life is still good, some people kinda suck but all in all most don’t!
So… not going to tap the “like” button on this one. So sorry for your sh#@$ty evening but you always find the good side to everything mi amiga. I would also add that it is good that you discovered what kind of service you were apt to get before something REALLY bad happened like say, an accident. And today is another day, the sun is in the sky, the birds are twittering, the butterflies are fluttering, and it’s all part of the adventure. 🙂
Thanks Karen…yeah, this isnt a very ‘likable’ post, for sure! And your so right, good thing we learned this before we really needed to have someone who would treat us like we mattered. And Life goes on….
We had our car towed for repairs and our insurance people were outstanding, called us multiple times to be sure the tow truck arrived and all was well. They are next to the church at Cervantes Park. Let me know if you want their contact information. They were recommended by my Panamanian neighbors. Deep breath – this too will get sorted out. These are the kind of things IL doesn’t write about, but I suppose it could happen in the US too.
I remember when you had that awesome experience with the insurance provider you use. I would like to get the info on your agent. I will be looking for a new one asap. And your so right, these things happen no matter where you live. Not the end of the world, just unfortunate.
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I am not “liking” this either. I’ve heard this type of “service” from too many people lately. Forever to pay claims, claims only pay for half the repairs etc. I feel so bad for you both. And it’s not just gringo treatment from this company as it also happened to one of our Panamanian workers.
Yes, Cindy not a ‘likable’ post! hah! I too had heard about this type of negligent and unprofessional treatment but often it doesn’t really sink in until it hits you in the face personally. Glad to know its not just a Gringo problem, but should not be a problem for anyone!
ugh, the worst! i had a typo on a government form once – the handwritten date in the visa in my passport was one day different from the printed date on my ID card. immigration gave me a really hard time coming back into the country – three months before the expiration date – that was clearly a human error! hopefully the insurance agent takes responsibility! big hugs and see you soon!
Damn typos! Its hilarious that the fact that I renewed the policy on November 16, 2015 and yet the expiration date on my paperwork said November 6, 2015! And thats not the agents responsibility? Huh? Ohhhhhhh brother!
Reminds me of the time I drove down a one way street in Panama– the wrong way– only to find the National Guard replete with machine gun standing at the cross street. So I broke out my high school Spanish asking for directions to the street I was trying to find. Hah! As if I could understand the answer. I think he actually cracked a smile as I cautiously worked my way back in reverse accompanied by several youths laughing at my efforts, but guiding me the whole way!
Too funny! I can just see you Ellen…It can be a challenge to navigate many things about life in a different country…but, shrug we muddle along, don’t we? Its and Adventure for sure! Wouldn’t want it any other way…well, except for the yelling at me part! Yuck! I hate that! 🙂
Definitely Time for a new Reliable Agent After retrieving your vehicle from Impound.
Yep! Time indeed! We’re on it!
Not being an expat (yet) I am going to be the first to “Like” this Holly. I like your honesty, I like your ability to put the good, the bad, and the ugly of Panama in black and white (every country has potholes—though some publications fail to mention the negatives). I am grateful for the many blogs, yours being one, and the virtual friends who help us make the decision to expat to Panama–or not. For you being concerned enough not to want this nightmare experience to happen to anyone else, for taking the time, the energy, and the patience (and, likely, the tears) to lay it on the line con palabras — I thank and “Like” you and your blog.
As for your experience, I’m sorry you had that happen to you, it was S#$tty!!! And through it all you & Scott revealed to the policeman the great example how expats can be an asset to any community. Well done Holly & Scott you are good people!
Thanks so much Mariah! I really appreciate your kind words. I try to be a kind, honest person and when faced with the telling of an incident such as this one I really don’t want to sound spiteful or mean, so I’m glad I didn’t come off that way! Its good info for folks to know and to be mindful of…
Hi Holly! Been thinking about you a lot lately! So sorry to hear about your mishap but I’m so glad that your friends cheered you up and all turned out ok. You are right …. At least it wasn’t something more serious that he was mean and unprofessional about. Hugs! Linda
Linda! Its so good to hear from you! I hope you and T will be visiting us here in Boquete again someday soon! All will be fine with this nonsense ….its a bummer to have to experience things like this but hopefully we’ve learned something from it, even if its learning to be a bit more careful about who we give our business to.
Sorry for you both. Hope your agent comes through and pays your ticket and the cost of impounding. Immediately, I check the date on ins policy. I just renewed it. There are agents in David and have heard at least of one who is very caring. Hugs…
Thanks Jere…yes, we will be looking into a new agent, only hoping we will be able to do so before this new policy expires. I think we should be able to simply ask the company to switch the agent to a different one…we shall see. Until then we will do the best we can to muddle on with this unprofessional agent until we can go someplace else. I too hope that we don’t end up paying for a mistake that was not our fault….
Read this and went right through all my paperwork. Thanks for sharing your experience. I can think of a million positive things to come out of this all, searching for an agent who is there for you being only one. Good luck finding the impound lot. Love your attitude!
Thanks Rona! Well, if everyone who hears about our experience goes and checks their paperwork to be sure its all accurate then this post will have been worth writing. And your so right, a million positives can surely be found from situations such as this one! For one, that police officer really seemed surprised by our kindness towards his duty to his job. Its pretty funny when the person who is about to tow your car is much kinder to you than your insurance agent who caused the whole thing! hah!
At the end of the day, not catastrophic, but a real pain and totally unnecessary. It feels really lousy to be disappointed in someone you thought was taking care of you.
Thanks Walt….indeed your right about that! Not even close to catastrophic! We even had a nice little walk into town as our car was being towed away behind us…nothing to do but go enjoy a nice dinner and gulp down some wine! hah! Ya just never know what Adventure you may experience in this life! Love ya my friend! And miss you like crazy! 🙂
Geez. I hate those experiences. So sorry that happened, but you are remarkably positive and upbeat about the whole experience. My question is, “Did you have to do all this in Spanish?” I am really impressed if the phone conversation took place in Spanish. 🙂 Anyway, mi amiga…you are right. things could be worse. Do you remember when we first bought our dune buggy and the police took it for a joy ride and wrecked it? We learned a LOT from that experience. Never give your keys to a police officer, only long sleeve police officers can give tickets, and the most important…kindness and understanding is always returned to you. So, your kindness and understanding will pay off in the end. Can you cancel your new policy? I hope you can and get rid of that jerk. Sigh.
Oh Deb…sigh..yep These types of experiences are truly learning moments, if you choose to find the lessons in them! I do remember your dune buggy fiasco! Geesh! That was just incredibly terrible! But you managed to turn it into something positive! I strive to find the good in these frustrating situations and I think our interaction with the police officer was the one that stands out for me! Sometimes the shit that happens is also good ! hah! Love ya!!
So sorry this happened. Note to self, check dates on paperwork thoroughly!! I will be anxious to hear the rest of the story and if the agent came through in the end. Very sorry you had this learning experience. I’m glad you are fine and no harm.
This is one of the more odious things about living here. Checkpoints that can known by anybody using the “wake” social program on a smartphone. This renders them ineffective to monitor criminals. In other jurisdictions a ticket would suffice, but towing companies get increased business and kickbacks. Learn what “juega vivo” means. The most important words to know in Panama.
Panama is the outlier in number of checkpoints I have ever experienced in my life (a few dozen countries and many US states) I never had to show any docs, including public transportation. A good idea to ask why. This has to be an image wrecker for the tourist business.
Forgot to ask who the insurance agent was. I have a hunch, and would like to renew with somebody else shortly. Any hints. Is she is in San Francisco Plaza?
Hey Chica…hate that…had a similar thing happen to me, except I had lent the car to a friend, when I got the car back I took the papers out to do god knows what with and left them at The Zapadora…a mile or so down the road on that very day…bang, roadstop…so towed car, fine etc etc and had really no-one to blame but myself and that did NOT make me feel better..it was an expensive lesson for me…and I swear those damn papers will be in the car if I have to staple them to my leg.! See you soon, let’s have a consolatory ( did I just make that word up?) glass of wine. dlhx