My name is Emily Grossman, and I once had a violin bow made by Sylvain Bigot. On Friday, August 13th, 2010, during a routine bow rehairing, the fumes from an open bottle of denatured alcohol met with an open flame and burst into fire. My bow suffered severe burns and was damaged beyond repair. "Mr. X", the man responsible for the accident, assured me that his insurance company, the Hartford, would cover the cost of the bow, and thus I was relieved.
August 26th, I closed things out with Mr. X, who gave me some figures and informed me that it may be a couple of weeks before I received my check reimbursing me for the value of the bow. Meanwhile, I had been forced to travel the country in search of a new bow to suit my needs. (I am a professional musician, and could not go without a bow.) I found one, and placed it on my credit card under the impression that I would be able to pay it off with my reimbursement.
Six weeks went by as I checked the mailbox for my check. At the end of September, I began making phone calls in order to ascertain the whereabouts of my check. After a week of queries, I finally spoke with an agent from the Hartford who knew absolutely nothing about my incident (he referred to my bow as "that stick thing you pull across the violin?"). He gave me some possible numbers for my claim and phone numbers that might give me results. I left a message.
My message was never returned. After contacting Mr. X again, he informed me that he had been unable to reach anyone on the claim, so he went to the supervisor of the claim, who informed him that the claim representative had been delayed by a question about the age of the bow, but rather than resolving the issue, had gotten married and gone on vacation. The paperwork had been sitting untouched for a month. Meanwhile, I received my credit card statement and was forced to pay it off with my own funds. This caused unwarranted financial stress to my business and my personal life. I called again, checking to see if the claim had been settled, wanting to know if they had the proper mailing address for my reimbursement. I was redirected to a new representative, who treated the claim as though it had never been handled, asking me basic questions that should already have been on file. They told me they would call me in the morning and let me know the status of my claim.
Two days went by before I heard back, and at this point, I was informed that the bow's replacement value was $5857, that they had taken into consideration the depreciation over the five years since it was made, and that they were only responsible for $4392.75, $500 of which would be payed by Mr X as a deductible. Three times I explained that instruments do not depreciate. We got nowhere; I was unable to reasonably discuss anything, so I ended the conversation.
The Hartford Insurance Company employs agents that operate under the false assumption that fine instruments depreciate over time, which eventually deems them completely valueless. Using the logic that was tossed at me, my bow would have been completely worthless, had it been more than twenty years old.
I am incredulous that the American String Teacher's Association recommends the Hartford for coverage, and am contacting them about this ordeal. These accounts I share with you in hopes that you may avoid future incidences such as this. I would never suggest that anyone should insure their instrument with a company that treats their clients with the ignorance and general mismanagement that I have received from the Hartford to date.
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