In my previous blog, I talked about my new Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Of course, the first stop after picking up the new car was a visit to my long-time insurance agent to get my auto insurance transferred. When she entered the VIN for my new car, it came up as a Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle with a rating of 59—much higher than my old Accord with a 39! This raised my bill a proportionate amount, so I asked my agent to call Selective and to speak with her underwriter. The underwriter said the quote was correct, even though the VIN did not pull up the correct Clarity type, but she would look into it.

The next day my agent called me back and said that indeed the quote was correct. I did not believe this. I called Selective's contact number and the agents said that they could not help me solve this problem and to see my agent (which I had done). Then I asked for the phone number of the Selective President, which they could not provide. I asked for the number of the Selective Corporate Office, but the number they gave me led to an online "you have won a free cruise" scam.

I wanted some action, and as my Mother always advised me to do, I started at the top by contacting the Office of the President of Selective, John Marcioni. This proved to be easier said than done, because the Selective Web Pages are designed poorly, and I could not find the phone number for the Corporate Office. It is there, but well hidden. Also, I hate using the phone because my voice has issues after a neck operation, and there were no e-mail addresses for the corporate officials. Nonetheless, I got to John Marcioni's office and spoke to whomever answered his phone. She promised action by the end of the day.

I was called back by Veronica Hanelt, who indeed fixed the broken Selective system, and re-rated my Clarity at 40 instead of 59. This reduced my premium from over $1600 to just $1135. I thanked her. However, I felt that Selective's handling of this issue was poor. Veronica told me that everyone at selective had an e-mail address of, so I sent the following e-mail to Mr. Marcioni:

From: James Rome []
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2018 4:13 PM
To: John Marchioni <>
Cc: Veronica Hanelt <>
Subject: My recent interactions with Selective leave a lot to be desired.

Dear Mr. Marchioni,

Monday I bought a new Honda Clarity PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), and went to my Agent, xxxxxxxxx Insurance, to get my auto insurance transferred.

The problems occurred when xxxxx (my Agent) entered the VIN number and your software showed that my 2018 Honda Clarity was a Fuel Cell vehicle. There are three different Clarity Models. The Fuel Cell is only available for rental in parts of California. A pure electric version is available in California and Oregon, and the PHEV is available nationally. I knew that your software was not correct for my vehicle, and asked xxxxx to call her Underwriter and ask. After two days, the Underwriter said it was correct, and Quoted me a rate of about $1600—almost twice the rate of my 2013 Accord. I did not understand this, and called your client-facing agents, and they said there was nothing they could do because the quote was correct.

My Mom always taught me to start at the top when I have a problem, so I asked the agent for your phone number. They could not provide it. Then I asked for the number of the Executive offices, and they also could not provide a number that worked. This information is NOT on the Selective Web page! After a lot of Googling, I found the phone number for the Selective Executive Offices and your name, and got through to your secretary. She of course solved the problem by referring me to Veronica Hanelt. Today she got back to xxxxx and I with the correct quote of $1135—much less than the $1600 for the wrong vehicle.

In my opinion, your customer-/agent-facing system is broken.

  • There is no way to fix issues like mine, and agents have no "higher authority" to turn to to fix it.

  • There is no way for a customer to contact you. Take a page from T-Mobile's John Legere. Every T-mobile officer is on Twitter, and their e-mail addresses are public. ALL such inquiries are dealt with by a special executive level team.

  • I am on the Selective Feedback panel, and it surely looks to me as if Selective does not want, or value feedback from its Agents and Customers. Why do you make it so difficult for your customers to contact YOU (not your consumer-facing staff). I hope this e-mail address is correct. It is a guess!

You need to fix things.

James A. Rome

I received the following response from Mr. Marchioni, which I consider very unresponsive:

Mr. Rome – thank you for reaching out and I apologize for the experience you had with the most recent vehicle change on your policy.  While issues may arise on occasion with matching VIN numbers and model types, this could have been resolved more quickly between your agent and our underwriter. With regard to your commentary on ease of finding my contact information, the entire executive team is listed on the public website along with the phone number of our corporate office.  We value the feedback of our customers and appreciate your willingness to reach out directly to me. 


John J. Marchioni, CPCU
President & Chief Operating Officer
Selective Insurance Group, Inc.
40 Wantage Avenue
Branchville, New Jersey 07890
973-948-3000 office

I forwarded this to my agent, who was also rather peeved. She also wrote to Mr. Marcioni:

With all due respect, per the insured’s email I did in fact reach out to Selective’s personal lines underwriting department and my assigned underwriter.  Both of which researched the vin and told me that the vin was correct. I won’t hash that out again but for the President of Selective to tell MY insured that his agent could have easily fixed this by contacting their underwriter was a blind, unprofessional, and demeaning response.  I have worked behind this desk for 23 years and been in the industry longer than that. I know the proper channels to use.

How humiliating for me to find out my insured contacts corporate and in less than 5 hours has the issue resolved, when it took me two days to get told that the information pulled by the vin was correct.   So somewhere there is a breakdown in either training and communication or the authority to make these kind of changes with the underwriters is not consistent.   

In regards to the website and finding the corporate contact information, I understand every business has a decision to make at how accessible their corporate staff is to their stakeholders. However, the Selective site makes finding information a time consuming maze. When you go to the ‘contact us’ tab the page automatically scrolls to the information input area leaving the visitor to think there is nothing above it.  If the visitor does move the page up and down you will see the corporate email links that are generic at best.  You have no idea who you are actually reaching out to and how to follow up if there is no response.  For ease of use, I would suggest the corporate email be more specific and be included on the pages with the officers biographies.

One final note, I believe its high time Selective find a new IT company to build their public site, agent site, and the billing site.  Your current pages are the most difficult to work with, they are not user friendly, and very time consuming.  The billing information is not consistent and I should not have to go to multiple pages to find out what’s due and go to yet another page to pay the clients bill.  And to make us use Internet explorer as the web browser when it’s the least secure browser of them all is irresponsible

Today, Selective responded to her as follows:

I apologize for the issues that have occurred on this policy.  I have read through the emails as well as the notes in our system and Selective did not handle this the way I would have expected.  We will be drafting a letter to the customer apologizing as well as letting them know that your agency followed all procedures an protocol and tried to get the issued resolved however Selective did not respond in the manner I would have expected.  Please accept my apology and look forward to the continued partnership we have with your agency.

Thank you,
Shelly Gallagher

Underwriting Operations Manager at Selective Insurance

I have a friend in the Insurance industry in Canada who is an adjuster. He handles large cases, and is constantly tearing his hair out due to micro management in a broken system. He said this is typical of the industry. I would note that also in Canada, an insurance adjuster seems to provide much more service to clients than US companies provide. He hires contractors and supervises reconstruction work. In the USA, we are given a check, and possibly a few names.

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