Polish car insurance

My wife recently had a car accident. Thankfully not serious, nobody hurt and not her fault. A rather miserable excuse for a human being driving a large MAN truck loaded with pallets decided to swing out and dent the front of her Corolla. Damage to the truck zero, damage to Corolla = 7,800 PLN (wing, light, bumper, etc).

In fact the main damage in this accident is to my wife’s sanity. Firstly because her brand new Cash-Cow (I think it’s actually spelt Qashqai) arrived at the Nissan dealer precisely ONE DAY after this accident. As the five year old Corolla is being traded in as part payment for the new car she now has to wait until we get the Corolla back until she can start playing with her new car. Not funny! Even less funny is the amount of work she’s having to do to deal with the administration after the crash. The end result of all this rigmarole is that she’ll be lucky to be driving her new car a month after the thing arrived.

What I’m finding very hard to get my head around is why her insurance company are not making her life just as easy as peasy can be?!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

It has been a very long time since I had an accident of any kind and whenever it was it was in the UK for sure. My recollection is that if you’ve stumped up the extra wonga for “fully comprehensive” cover then you tell your insurance company what happened, pass on a few details, fill out a form and then sit back and enjoy yourself. They will deal with the other driver, the other insurance company, the repair shop, everything.

Not so in Poland, apparently. Here my wife has to do everything herself, and I mean everything. Fair enough, if my ligua Polska were infinitely better I could do some of it for her but whatever, someone in our family has to do all the work while Hestia, it seems, do absolutely bugger all. This is one of those weird occasions where you do nothing wrong yourself and yet end up getting the rough end of the stick.

When the accident happened my wife had to first of all argue with the truck driver, a 16 tonne gorilla without two brain cells to rub together who was all set for blaming her, presumably for just being in his way. Thankfully a few bystanders (Polish Olympic Gold Medal bystanders no less!) came to her aid and made it clear who was to blame. The gorilla was not for signing a statement though, so as seems to be the norm here, the police were called to adjudicate. A long time later they arrived and took 3 nanoseconds to give the gorilla 6 points and a few hundred zeds fine. Everyone left the scene of the crime.

The gorilla’s insurance company, or that of the firm he works for, is PZU. My wife had to call PZU to ask where she should take the car and was given the address of the nearest Toyota repair shop to our home. She drove the car there and spent another few hours filling out forms. The repair guy said he’d be in touch regarding cost and timing, which he duly was a couple of days later. He explained though, that even when the repair is done my wife can’t have her car back until PZU, the guilty party’s insurance company, have paid them. This could take a long time, he said. Of course, if we’d like to we could pay the 7,800 zeds and then wait ourselves to be paid back by PZU! What planet are these people on?

In the meantime she has been given a Yaris to drive around in at a cost of 60 zeds a day plus tax. It is still not clear who will be paying the cost of the Yaris. One PZU person said they will pay, another did that sucking-in sound and asked if she used her car for work. She does use her car for work but not officially because the psycho hospital she works for is so short of cash they can’t afford to pay her for it so effectively we sponsor the National Health Service to the tune of a lot of petrol and wear & tear every month. We can afford to do it but many employees can’t. They visit their patients on “home visits” using buses and trams. Quite ridiculous but not the point of this story.

The process of having PZU transfer the money to the repair shop involves PZU getting a report from the police. The police have 30 days in which to send out the report. Given the circumstances, new car waiting to be picked up, she attempted to speed this up by visiting the two ladies who deal with thousands of accident reports every week. I sent an SMS on the day asking how it went, she replied “f**k them!”, which I think means it didn’t go well.

So, we now have a situation where the new car is waiting patiently to be collected. The Corolla will be fixed next week but cannot be released until they are paid. Payment depends on PZU who have recently appointed a “case officer”. The case officer is waiting for some papers from the police, who are not in a hurry. We really have no idea when she might be able to drive her new car or how much we might end up paying for the Yaris. Fair to say, a VERY unsatisfactory state of affairs.

  • Why do we pay Hestia for fully comprehensive and then in a case like this they do absolutely bugger all?
  • Why do the police have to get involved in settling petty RTA incidents?
  • Why can’t Toyota release the car knowing they will be paid by one or other insurance companies?
  • Why can’t both insurance companies and the repair shop communicated with each other and make the customer’s life easier?
  • Why does the innocent party, my wife, have to deal with all this shit? I mean really, what kind of screwed up system is this?
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28 thoughts on “Polish car insurance

  1. Ahhh, PZU – I think that’s the bulk of your problem. They seem to be the default insurer of assholes. My wife and I went through something fairly similar when a guy rear-ended us and then claimed the damage was already present to our car. So PZU told the cops we were trying to commit insurance fraud which meant a lovely few visits to the local police station. Luckily, when I went in with a sworn translator, both the translator AND I were telling the cops what a bunch of lying dicks PZU are because something very similar had happened to her (the translator) and she was happy to tell the cops how utterly innocent I was in a very vehemently convincing manner.

    I can’t really say anything else, other than this is the sort of thing I’ve just gotten used to here. Insurance here is absurdly expensive – although that makes sense with all the reckless assholes on the roads (that blame the roads, other drivers, lack of a Polish pope, the alcohol, the fact that their driving test person took a bribe and gave a clearly unqualified driver a license, etc.) – but one gets virtually nothing for it.

    We were previously with Link4 which wasn’t too bad. When the PZU-using fuckwit that rear-ended us refused to pay up, we told Link4 we’d been rear-ended and wanted them to look at it. So we drove to one of their offices, they looked at it, sent us some cash and told us to get it fixed if we wanted. The damage was VERY light so we didn’t and just kept the money. That was satisfactory enough. Funny thing though, the cops told us they’d get back to us after awhile and that was a few years ago. We’re still waiting. This is why our new car sits in 24/7 guarded parking and why I always drive like everyone else out there actively wants to hit me. It’s easier on my sanity than dealing with the driver assholes and the insurance assholes.

  2. dev says:

    OK I will share my story.
    Some not careful enough driver didn’t see me when changing lanes. He was guest in ‘big city’ and he was occupied by the BUS in front of him.
    I was insured by the cheapest company on the market (MTU). He was insured by PZU.
    After the collision he wrote appropriate statement so we didn’t call the police.
    Later I’ve called PZU and they told me that their rzeczoznawca (surveyor?) has to see my car to estimate the cost of repair. I went to the nearest PZU office. Rzeczoznawca took pictures and asked me if I prefer to fix the car myself or if PZU should take care of that. I’ve chosen first option and I got money transfer the next day. There were four elements for painting, I’ve changed a timing belt. Even then I had some money left in my pocket. Conclusion – PZU is not that bad.

    I have to add that in Poland we have something called Fundusz Gwarancyjny. AFAIR, if the other driver caused the collision, You can go to any insurance company and get money from the FG. Then this insurance company will claim money from the FG, and the institution will chase owner of the other car and his insurance company in courts.

  3. Bartek says:

    Dammit, just a small prang and so much bother…

    With regard to your questions:

    1. You pay Hestia and they provide you cover for damages you (or rather your wife) cause, in this case the culprit is the truck driver. Hestia doesn’t pay you the compensation so why should they bother at all?

    2. They don’t have to come, but the guilty guy didn’t want to admit it had been his fault and without the police you’d have been settling the case till now.

    3. No idea…

    4. The amount of paperwork that needs to be done before it happens is so overwhelming that it takes a few weeks, but now it’s the holiday season and it’s so hot that a normal person can
    t work that effectively.

    5. The worst thing is that your wife’s innocent. But she has to deal with it because it is in her vested interest to get a compensation.

    My father had his previous insurance policies with PZU. On 21 October 2009 he scratched another car’s bumper on a car park so he waited for the driver of the hapless car (not a scrape on my father’s car) and they signed an agreement in which my father pleaded guilty and left him details of his insurance policy. Around a month ago I urged father to change insurer and he had to get from PZU a document confirmng his insurance history. The guy laid a claim to PZU a day later on 22 October 2009 and according to that document the compensation was paid on 6 January 2010. But my father just accepted his fault and didn’t have to lift his little finger, the guy whose brand new Skoda Octavia was scratched had to wrangle with PZU for over two months. It doesn’t bode well to your wife.

    The hospital has a nice policy. I feel sorry for her colleauges who’ll be travelling in sweatboxes in the coming days.

    The Yaris – I think PZU should pay for this, but they don’t have to, or I don’t know. Or maybe your wife will have to prove she needs a car for working. Gosh… 71 PLN per day – are you going to spend over 2,100 PLN for hiring this car for a month. Your wallet has a much bigger size than mine, but it’s damn much…

    And why are you getting rid of a good, five-year-old car? Look at Micheal Dembinski, he’s been using his little Micra for over 17 years and doesn’t even think about a new car.

  4. Bartek says:

    Rzeczoznawca? AFAIK this guy in an insurance company is called likwidator – loss adjuster.

    This one won’t surely come up in the next translation competition…

  5. Just a quick note: a 17 year old car’s safety equipment is grossly out of date. It was, at one time, true that safety equipment and construction of cars with safety in mind didn’t change much or at all. That is no longer true and it is generally accepted that it’s worth getting a new car just on safety grounds once every seven years.

    Poland is a dangerous place to drive and I for one would never travel in anything older than 10 years, with front and side airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts and ABS. At this point, actually, there’s no reason not to also get something with electronic stability control, too.

  6. scatts says:

    The new car. It’s a question of keeping up to date really. We got the max value out of the Corolla and are selling before the value drops off the scale. Also, new cars are good value right now so seems a good time to buy.

    I think Michael should do the same! :)

    The Yaris – what else are we supposed to do? Renting a car anywhere else would cost more, so would taxis and she really can’t manage everything (work, shopping, daughter) on public transport.

  7. guest says:

    An obvious question (sorry, really couldn’t help it) – why don’t you just help your wife with shopping and your daughter?

  8. tomasz says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s car accident. I hope You’re lucky that you had witnesses. I had an accident in Poland were it was the lorry driver’s fault, but he lied to the police and I had no witnesses, so it was deemed to be my fault.

    You are right the be pis…d off about the insurance companies/police/repair shop making your wife do all the paperwork. People in Poland are used to that, but that is no excuse. Things have to change.

  9. tomasz says:

    …scratch “I hope” above. I started writing “I hope it gets resolved and forgotten soon.”, but then pressed “Submit” by mistake.

  10. Name says:

    Hmmm…Polish car insurance and picture taken in Japan? :P

  11. bob says:

    Sorry to hear about this Pan Scatts

    I ALWAYS when sussing out the situation, if warranted, write a polite but very direct letter in English to the President of the dead beat company expressing exactly what I want done, how I want it done and when I want it done. I preface it by a call to the President’s office (often not easy) and get Pan Prezes’s assistant. I get the fax number and fax my letter and call that same person to be sure she/he received it and get an assurance that they will get it to Pan Preszes.

    This has been a very, very successful approach no matter what company and what problem. In general we have received excellent care when starting at the top. Bartek – as we say, shit rolls downhill’ and it works as well in Poland as in other places.

    Scatts – you may give it a shot – give me a call if you want to discuss. I think you have my number or drop an email.

    In any event, as you are experiencing and as others have chimed it, it is a different world here and usually the devil is in the policy details which is the fine print that most do not read.

  12. aika says:

    During my driving course (in Poland) I was warned that quite often there is no point in pleading ‘not guilty’ and that it’s better to just accept it.

    Police, they said, uses a couple simple rules for deciding, who is guilty. Furthermore, they can fine you for collision and e.g. blocking the lane or parking on the green between lanes etc. So if you see that you have no way to proof otherwise, you’ll be better off with writing your guilt statement right away.

    E.g. if somebody has abruptly changed the lane and had to break and you hit him:
    – straight from behind – you will be found guilty, there is no proof of his sudden lane change and carelessness,
    – while only a part of his car is on your lane – you have a chance, the marks on your cars will indicate, that he was changing the lanes and was supposed to keep safe distances etc.
    If you’re on ancillary road – you’re alway guilty. If you are switching from internal to public road – you’re always guilty etc.

  13. Ian says:

    Scatts,

    Sorry to hear about the prang but at least everyone is ok, my last accident involved someone hitting my car just enough for an oak tree to take the drivers side mirror off the car, 6 inches to the right (in the UK) and who knows where I would be now.

    I’m now back in the UK, still no coffee but at least we managed to chat this time!

    I may well be back over in August.

  14. Hey, you should try driving a 1935 Austin 12 from London to Wolsztyn. Polish roads are interesing with leaf springs and approximante steering. Great fun, but after dark on the road over the border from Germany with 2 glow worms for headlights I decided discretion was the better part of valour and got a motel room for the night. I had no problems with Polish drivers but they ARE bad ! That probably comes from cars being a luxury low powered item a few years ago to almost everyone now having high powered vehicles and no comprehension how to control them.

    The Austin made it back safely apart from having a cylinder head gasket go at Hannover and having to be carted back on a transporter.

    Fingers crossed for September when I take my steamboat over on a trailer (NOT with the Austin!!)

  15. polkaontheisland says:

    That’s why when I’m in my country and see an incident where one participant is a taxi driver, bus/tram driver, or lorry driver I stop and immediately call the police to submit a witness’ account.

    The mafia must be stopped. Enough shafting me.

    (this of course means that I lost against a cab driver once)

    After all I pay the taxes for policing, so they must work in my interests. And one gets to fight the evil, which is a nice feeling. Na pohybel skurwysynom.

  16. scatts says:

    Hmmm, how about, just for starters, that last week I was out of Poland for 2 days and this week for 3 days. Can’t be much help when I’m in Berlin, Frankfurt, Madrid can I now?

  17. scatts says:

    We like to embrace multiculturalism at every opportunity! :)

  18. scatts says:

    Gosh, quite an adventure!

  19. A shame to hear about Mrs Scatts’ accident, never pleasant things. A five-year old Corolla is only getting into its stride. It has modern safety equipment, and really the only justification for changing it for a QashQow is to say “Hey good people! We’ve arrived!” Consider the financial alternatives to buying a new car. Investing in land is probably the best bet. Putting the capital into a high-interest deposit account. It will be interesting to see the resale value of your new QashQow in a year’s time to see how that would stack up against the interest earned in any form of investment.

    Still, that’s enough moralising from me. I’m heading off for the mountains – on foot.

  20. scatts says:

    I wouldn’t agree that “We’ve arrived” is any kind of justification for changing a car, unless you really have “arrived” (Corolla to Ferrari) and wish to signal that fact.

    It is obviously not the best financial decision versus many alternatives but then a lot of the things you enjoy fall into the same category and we don’t live our lives based around making as much money as possible (or spending as little as possible).

    How many people spend a bas***d fortune on a new kitchen that adds bugger all to the value of the house?

    How many people build a 300m2 house when 150m2 would be just fine?

    How many people spend more on their holidays than they really have to?

    How many people buy more clothes than they really need?

    etc

    Enjoy the mountains!

  21. gagutek says:

    Not quite sure why but I was a bit upset by your entry about problems with insurance companies in Poland. Plenty of paperwork and bureaucracy and waiting and waiting and waiting? And your point is… You have been living in Poland for some time now, haven’t you…

    Is it so much better in UK that you can have a teenage sitting first time behind the wheel and going (with his license-holder not-much-older friend) for a fast ride on the five-lane Marble Arch roundabout (for example!)… or for a ride from one night club to the other on Sat night…

    I could compose a little “survival guide” on dealing with car accidents in the UK.
    In 99 out of 100 cases you will not get the insurance number from the guilty gorilla so:
    1) you call ambulance and say that you had an accident and that you feel this or that
    2) they send an ambulance and the police will follow
    3) if a policeman has a good day and you are cute/upset enough he will do you a BIG favour and ask the gorilla for his insurance number
    4) after the above steps are successfully accomplished you can finally start to deal SMOOTHLY with insurance companies in the UK…

    That way you have the perfectly reliable witnesses (testifying who was involved), otherwise your gorilla will come up with endless names of the people who were sitting in his car or just passing by while the accident happened!

    tested (not by myself) and works perfectly!

    Of course you feel a bit uneasy by using overstretched ambulance resources. But on the other hand you are saving NHS the consequences of your heart attack when you see your renewal insurance premium without no claim bonus as you hadn’t be able to track the gorillas insurance company.

  22. chris mcg says:

    Hmmm.

    Firstly gorillas aren’t permitted to drive in the U.K. so you must have been pretty unlucky to encounter one during your survey of 100 accidents on british roads.

    As they are not legally allowed to drive it follows that they cant get insurance seeing as they are apes.

    Secondly, why not just call Police instead of an ambulance?

    Apart from the ape part this answer is pretty far fetched :-)

  23. gagutek says:

    The problem is that the police will not come to the minor car accident in UK.

    But since I wrote my last post I talked to my English friends and one of them has another patent: you call the police saying the other driver looks/sounds drunk….

  24. Grze$ko says:

    “My recollection is that if you’ve stumped up the extra wonga for “fully comprehensive” cover then you tell your insurance company what happened, pass on a few details, fill out a form and then sit back and enjoy yourself. ”
    Yay! I want to move to your planet!
    Having been hit three times in the last two years (twice by a taxi while my car was parked) in Australia, I can tell you that your recollection is either hazed over by time or you do indeed insure with Mother Theresa Car Insurance Corporation.
    Out of the three incidents, in only one of them the comprehensive worked OK. The other two… I think I’d rather PZU.
    Get your self hit by a taxi and see what happens then, even the record of the taxi being at a particular address vanishes and a mobile phone photo of a taxi dragging it’s bumper away from my bleeding car is “too blurry”.
    It’s a world wide phenomenon, but Polish must be the worst of course.

  25. scatts says:

    Jolly good, why involve the police ion a minor car accident? They have better things to do in the UK like catching the latest madman with a gun or finding the 12 year old that just stabbed someone.

  26. scatts says:

    Grze$ko, I really have no idea how insurance works in Australia. I was referring to the UK, when I lived and insured a car there and last had an accident. That’s at least 20 years ago so things may well have changed but I doubt if they have changed that much, if anything the service levels will have improved due to increased competition.

  27. gagutek says:

    Why? so you could get the other driver insurance number!!! So you can start proceed with the insurance claim. Otherwise there is no obligation to carry the policy documents on you, moreover – there is no obligation to show/give you the details!!!

  28. HatePolishRipOffInsurance says:

    The Polish system for insurance is that the customer does all the work. Its frankly appalling.Avoid Polish insurance companies a f they are the plague They are stuck in the 19th century and deserve to be treated as such. We pay the premiums, you do the work not the customer you dinosaurs.

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