A Prime Example Of The Worst The Philippines Has To Offer
About this article
This review, as with most of my reviews on this page, is based on personal experience with this company. In articles that don’t involve personal experience, I’ll indicate that from the start.
How this affects the Expat:
- DO NOT USE FPG INSURANCE!
- When getting car insurance, make sure dealership protection for both repairs and parts are in the contract before you sign it.
- Most Filipinos won’t have car insurance and the ones that do hate to use it because they know it’ll take a month or more to get the money.
- Government agencies can’t help you, even when they want to.
- Companies like FPG don’t care about Social Media complaints or losing customers.
Quick Article Links
- Introduction: The Western Style
- Introduction: The Philippines Style
- A Note On Government Agencies On Matters Like This
- On Handling It Through Social Media
- Now Let’s Talk About FPG’s “Honesty”
- On FPG’s Slowness
- In Summary
Introduction: The Western Style
One of the things an Expat learns early on is that cars here cost 1/3rd more than most developed countries. Something you could get for $5,000 in the US would go for $8,000 or more in the Philippines. The other thing you learn early on is that a large majority of accidents result in hit and run with almost no consequences. Basically, you’re stuck with the damage on your own tab, and the general idea is that “Well, I have to pay for my damage too, so it’s even.” Of course, that’s completely ignoring the fact that one person is at fault, the other is the victim. But that’s a matter of a different topic.
As a likely Expat from a developed country, especially the USA, you’re probably used to keeping car insurance as a necessary expense in case you have one of those very bad days. It sucks to pay for, can be confusing to understand, and often more expensive than it can be useful. That is until you have that accident one day. Then the insurance comes through with either the full cost covered at their shop with a warranty or a suitable check provided to pay for repairs at your preferred shop. All of this typically within 3 days to one week. In short, it makes a bad day just a bit better in a short amount of time. By comparison, states in the US that don’t have mandatory car insurance puts all of the cost on the individual at fault, backed up by the Court.
Introduction: The Philippines Style
In the Philippines, car insurance is not required by law except in the cases of new car purchases from the dealership, which makes sense because you’re likely not done paying for it yet. However, car insurance usually consists of an initial payment that’s much lower than in the US but covers considerably less as well. Also, Philippines care insurance is primarily to cover damage to your car, so getting someone’s insurance information to cover your damages is not applicable. Should you wish to obtain damages from another driver at fault, you’ll have to make sure you get a police report, which is going to take about 5 hours to get done if you’ve ensured that the other party sticks around long enough for the police to arrive. From there, they’ll have to provide a promissory note to close the matter at the police station.
From there, you’ll likely have to follow through with a small claim filing at the local City Hall. At the time of this writing, the limit for this claim is up to 400,000 php. You’ll need all of your evidence at the time of filing because you are not allowed to introduce new evidence later, and neither you nor the other party are allowed to bring in legal counsel whatsoever.
What typically happens at these hearings is an attempt by the judge to mediate the matter to an agreement by both parties. Should that fail, the judge will then enter judgment on the matter. Should an agreement happen between the parties, the agreement will be backed as an order by the Court. The good news is that, as mandated by law, all small claims are handled within 30 days. Enforcement, however, may need your follow-up at the related police department.
A Note On Government Agencies On Matters Like This
You may, like I did, feel like an option would be to contact one of the government agencies that purport to be “consumer watchdogs”. However, as I did, you’ll find out that government agencies such as DOLE and DTI do a lot to write down “good practice policies”, but aren’t authorized to do more than that. In my case, DTI Fraud Division enlisted a lawyer who sent them 3 letters requesting a response on the matter. FPG ignored every single one of them. DTI then said (paraphrasing) that my next option would be the small claims court, which as I mentioned earlier, starts with another mediation). In essence, no teeth whatsoever. At the time of this writing, DTI is “consolidating cases against FPG”…whatever that will end up meaning.
On Handling It Through Social Media
You may think that handling it by spreading the word on Social Media might jar the company into doing the right thing by you. You are wrong. If you search Facebook alone, you’ll find hundreds to thousands of complaints about FPG alone. It doesn’t faze them. not in the slightest. They already know they have the business through dealerships. They know that the government won’t touch them. What you or anyone else says about them, even banded together as you’d hope, won’t make a difference. The literally don’t care about lost business.
Now Let’s Talk About FPG’s “Honesty”
The first complaint I have about FPG is that they will deliberately lie to you. In my case, my car was a private sale, just under 10 years old at the time. With the concerns about the quality of repairs and how difficult it is to get parts for my car (Subaru), I was very specific and vocal about needing repairs at the dealership. I was assured every time that I would be able to get repairs at the dealership…no problem.
The first year went by without a problem. I’m a safe and seasoned driver, so I had no concerns. I then renewed the contract for a second year under the same understanding, backed up by me asking the same questions to be sure. Again…dealership repairs were no problem, they said.
But then that minor fender bender happened. I thought to myself “No problem. I’ll process this the proper way and get the repairs done at the nearby dealership. Bad day, but no problem. However, there was a problem. You see, despite their assurances at the time of signing, my contract didn’t actually cover dealership repairs. The loophole being that I COULD get it done there, but I would have to cover 40% of the cost, and the parts would be at NON-DEALERSHIP rates. Now, if you know anything about Subaru in the Philippines, you’ll know that it’s nearly impossible to get parts for Subaru from anywhere other than the dealership. However, FPG will tell you that their “mechanics” quote them at a much lower rate.
Additionally, the required paint will be non-factory paint jobs…the kind that cost about 2,000 pesos per panel but will flake off after a year. Lord knows where they’d get the parts from. It’s my guess that they wouldn’t get the parts, and would have just paid me the estimate the mechanic who doesn’t have the part would guess at. In the end, a repair that cost of 100,000 php at the dealership would only net 40,000 php cash payout from FPG. They said it would be free if I had their shop do it, but would not answer where the parts were sourced from.
On FPG’s Slowness
FPG moves slightly slower than a glacier when it comes to processing your claim. The initial claim takes at least a month to process. From there, any disputes typically results in several days between responses. This seems to be a deliberate tactic on the part of FPG to discourage claims. They hope that, if they delay it long enough, people will just give up and move on. They’ll send you a document you’ll need to sign and not say you need to sign it. It’s not until you request an update 3 days later that they’ll tell you “Sir, we’re waiting for your sign-off on our offer.” When it comes to actually providing the check, they’ll take another couple of weeks just processing the check and sending it to the nearest branch for pickup. When they promise to update you that the check is there, they won’t until they miss the deadline and you have to threaten the day after to call the police on the matter. Throughout the entire 5 MONTH ORDEAL, they consistently ignored emails, delayed responses by days or even weeks, often simply requesting updates. When a document wasn’t enough or not complete, they aren’t pro-active in letting you know so you can correct it quickly.
DO NOT EVER EVER EVER use FPG Insurance. Don’t’ even start to think about it, unless you really just have money to burn. Insurance, in general, and based on feedback I’ve gotten from Filipinos themselves, is a colossal waste of time in the Philippines. There are some good shops out there you can just pay to do the work. No hassle, no fuss, and the stress relief alone is a far better payoff than anything FPG will provide.
There are some genuinely good businesses in the Philippines. I already have some reviews on some in the pipeline. However, FPG is a complete and prime example of the worst the Philippines has to offer when it comes to business practices. Not having purchased a car from a dealership here, I can’t tell you if you have any options at the time of purchase. But if the dealership says the insurance is through FPG, do EVERYTHING you can to use a different company. If you can’t, strongly consider finding a different dealership, as a dealership’s use of FPG shows that they, themselves, are likely to be cheap themselves.
Expats typically come here with retirement savings…good money we spend on the investment of a car. We come from places with a positive focus on customer service and satisfaction. FPG will taint the way you see any business here with a stink that stays as long as they have your signature on one of their worthless contracts.