Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Not a Village Story Any More

Well, when the insurance agent didn't let us know after 10 days, my husband decided to go to his house and 'prod' him. But he was out and about and his wife promised to tell him that we really did need to know what was happening.

We had had long discussions about what we would do if the company decided to write the car off and agree only to minimal costs. It seemed to us that because the car was so old that is what would probably happen -- and we agreed that we would then ask that we also get the car back, as my husband was quite certain that the car was not irrepairably damaged and that he could do the job himself.

It never occurred to us that the insurance company would decide that my husband was at fault. We never imagined that the insurance agent would claim that according the the French Code de la Route that it was our fault because we were turning left from a major to a minor road and that traffic coming from behind us had the right to pass us first! Nevermind that he was behind us. Nevermind he was travelling too fast to stop, going around a bend in the road. Nevermind all that, because the good news was that the insurance company was going to pay for the repair of his motorcycle -- of course we would loose our 'no claims' bonus. And since we were covered for 3rd party only -- too bad, nothing.

Oh, yes, and when we said we did not accept this, that we would be seeking a solution with lawyers -- the insurance agent told us that we would not find a lawyer to take the case.

So we've left France this year with a sense of relief. We are pursuing the insurance company and leaving the agent out of it. After all he is in the middle -- Representling two clients -- one a true villager and the other a 'fair-weather resident'. It's too bad it could not really be a fairy tale 'just' ending. It seemed to start out that way -- in the end people are people and business is business. And business ends up pushing people around. We feel 'abused' and that we are 'getting the short end of the stick' because we are the foreigners, the ones who don't speak French well enough. And that last is our fault.

But the accident -- that wasn't our fault. No way, Jose! I don't know what will happen now. We do have French relations that are taking up the gauntlet -- so at least we can make a stand and have our say. At the end of the day the most important thing is that the young motorcyclist wasn't killed and barely had a scratch -- and that the four of us in the little Peugeot 106 were also unharmed.

And that is more than justice. That is miraculous.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Village Story Part 3

The friendliness and helpfullness of the small French Village!

Such relief to see the young man, albeit with bandaged foot, sitting at a table, with his girlfriend, filling out the insurance forms. And how welcoming the insurance agent and his wife. We waited several minutes while the young people filled out their forms. The girlfriend sat there and drew and map to indicate how, what and where the accident happened. We were pleased also to discover that she spoke English quite well and was thus able to explain what to fill in and so on.

That is, when it was our turn. She even drew our map for us and labelled it carefully in French. In addition when my husband explained to her what happened she helped to accurately translate it all into French. So amicable. So civilized. So French Village!

The young man, Jean Francois was so contrite and apologized several times for what had happened. He hadn't seen us, he said. We were hidden by the car behind us. We told him we were just so relieved that he had escaped any injury -- other than a bruise to his foot. We left hoping to hear from the agent within the week, the outcome of our claim.

It's a shame insurance companies are not so amicable. So civilized. So French Village.