In Good Hands
My father in law is an insurance agent. And he's great. When something happens, say a car accident, he's the guy you want to talk to. He doesn't make you feel stupid, treat you like it is all your fault, or make the situation any more stressful. In fact, he calms you down, treats you like it can happen to anyone (he'll say 'because it can'), and generally make you really, really glad he's on your side.
Last week, I got a letter from MAAF Assurances. We had paid for a "civil insurance" policy with them when we first arrived. This is obligatory in France, but not expensive. I guess if you accidentally trip someone on the street and they knock all their teeth out when they fall, this is the insurance that covers that kind of thing. Well, this letter said that I had "consistently paid my bill in the past" but that one was overdue and I needed to send payment right away.
This was odd, because we paid when we bought it, and have never received a bill in the mail from their company. Ever.
So I have been trying to go in to talk to them, but with sickness, doctor appointments, other important errands, and long lines in the office the last time I stopped in, it didn't happen until today. I was nervous. Dealing with functionnaires in France always makes me nervous.
I walked in, and a young man motioned me over, while he finished what he was doing. There was no one waiting, and he quickly cleaned up his papers and asked what I needed. I explained the situation, and he looked up our file on the computer. He explained what had happened when we first came in, and that we were supposed to come to him with our social security card when we got it.
I explained the issues we had with health insurance here, since Dr. B is on a fellowship that doesn't include the wife in the French health system. (Don't write to me about it--I've had hundreds of people tell me this is just not possible in France, but I assure you, it is.) I explained about the insurance we found that was set up for this type of situation, through another company. This insurance deal was created by a man who had the same problem when he worked as a scientist in France, with a fellowship that did not offer coverage to his wife. He used his Nobel Prize money to do it when he won, years later, to give an option to other scientists with this same problem.
The agent, bless his heart, then said the one thing, the very thing that immediately calmed me, took away my fears, and made me believe in the inherent goodness of man.
- Do not, whatever you do, do not pay this bill.
Hallelujah! I think this is the first time someone in France has told me not only did I not have to pay extra, I didn't have to pay at all! Whoopie! He told me to bring in my information from the other company, and he'll take care of it, whenever I have time. And he made a note on our file so I wouldn't get any more scary letters.
Insurance agents. Now they deserve some sort of Nobel prize of their own.