Sudden Impact

It was dark and slick when the accident occurred, but not nearly as dark and slick as it was when she tried to get to the bottom of it

After many more calls, I finally reached the president of U.S. Security's parent company, whose first reaction was one of suspicion. "This doesn't look right," said Roberto Espin. Information about a new policy should be in company computers within a couple of days, not weeks. "This is done precisely to prevent what I don't even want to think is happening here A to avoid incidents where the insured goes to the agent and pays, and the agent just keeps the money and does not inform the company.

At last U.S. Security's underwriting supervisor interceded and laid to rest any suspicions: she provided the coveted policy number and began the claim process. She also provided an excuse for the confusion and delay, that most popular of code words for all that runs amok these days in South Florida: Hurricane Andrew.

My Sentra, not surprisingly, was eventually declared a total loss, an obvious judgment twenty days in coming. The insurance company then appraised the value of the car (before Chapman smashed it) and agreed to pay off what I still owed on it. The remaining money, about $700 is supposed to come to me directly.

I'm still waiting for reimbursement for my rental car (nearly $800). And I'm still waiting for Officer Chapman to return repeated messages so that he might respond to many unanswered questions.

In the meantime, I've bought A or rather agreed to go into debt again on A a new model of the same car. This one is gray, reflecting our more cautious mood. Not long ago a tow truck came and hauled away the remains of our red Sentra as we watched from our window.

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