The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Hail and Insurance

on May 19, 2012

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Today is the day! After  weeks of being displaced our oldest daughter is moving back into her own room today.  It’s an exciting day for all of us: she gets her private space back and the rest of us get our couch back.  Five weeks ago today our house was pelted by a hail storm, breaking her window, soaking her room, shredding our siding and roof and denting a car.  It’s been a long five weeks and it’s been educational.  Here’s what we learned: insurance companies don’t move nearly as fast to pay as they do to collect.  Okay – we probably already knew that, but we’ve never had to deal with it at this level.

The Monday following the hail storm I contacted our local insurance agent’s office.  This was my first hint that this was not going to be easy.  The lady at the office was stressed because of the volume of calls she was handling.  I can understand that, but the same lady never seems as stressed when she calls to try to up sell my insurance policy or tell me of a rate increase. I’m sorry that her Monday was so busy, but you’d think they’d have known they were going to have a busy Monday.  Half our town had damage.  As sympathetic as I might be, I still expect you to be civil to me. I know – I’m unreasonable.  Sensing she was in a hurry, I informed her of our damage, beginning with the car.  She informed me that they were setting up a “disaster center” in the next week and they would call to set an appointment for us.  I kind of expected that.  Cool. So far so good. As we got to the damage to our personal property damaged from the water, however, the conversation got interesting. It went a little like this:

 “Was the water from a broken window and not ground water?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure the water came in through the window and not through the floor?”

“It’s a second story room, I’m confident it got wet because of the gaping hole in the window.  I took pictures if you’d like to see them.”

“No that’s ok. I believe you.” (Really??)  “If it came through the window, you are covered.” (Umm… I kew that.)  “What was damaged?”

“Well for starters, her bed was soaked and covered in glass.”

“How old was the bed?”

“Two years.”

“Your daughter is 17 and her bed is two years old?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a receipt to prove that?”

“Um – no.”

“Well then they won’t replace it. I might be able to get them to clean it.  What else?”

“Her flute and piccolo were on her bed so they were damaged.”

“Do you have receipts proving their age?”

“I have one for the flute, we just got it repadded for her.  The piccolo belongs to the school technically.”

“Well if the flute was old enough to just have needed repair, they won’t fix it.  The piccolo should have insurance through the school, so it isn’t covered.”

Is she kidding?!?!

“It was in my home at the time. Shouldn’t that be covered?”

“I’m sorry, that isn’t in your policy. Anything else?”

“Books, curtains, her bedspread and bedding.  Some of our landscaping things outside were destroyed. Our grill blew over and broke in half.”

“Things outside are not covered. You take that risk when you put them outside.”  Because MOST people keep their solar lights and garden statues inside. “How old was your grill?”

“Oh I don’t know. Five years or so.” Honestly I had just mentioned it because I was getting irritated.I didn’t expect them to cover that.

“Are you sure you didn’t just want a new grill?”   Yep – so I ran out into the hail storm to kick it over.

“I’m really not worried about the grill. I was just giving you a list of our damage.”

“Well, from what I can see, you really don’t have enough here to go over your personal property deductible by much. We can file this, but it will just raise your premium and not net you much help. It would probably be to your benefit to just not file.”

“Well, okay then. Thank you so much for your ‘help'”

I hung up the phone deciding that it would probably be to my benefit to start shopping for a new insurance company.

I was right: it hasn’t gotten better.  Two weeks after the storm they fit our car into the “disaster center”. (I have pondered since then how these people act when there truly is a disaster – like a tornado or a hurricane.)  This same car was damaged by hail last year.  They wanted receipts to prove we had fixed it before.  Okay – I get that, but they could you have warned us that we needed to bring them.  Furthermore  the windshield was broken last time.  You can’t see that it’s fixed?  Even if we hadn’t fixed it, the top and the hood will still have to be replaced, so what difference does it make? Now I understand that people try to commit insurance fraud on hail damage all the time and that is why they act this way.  Understanding it on an intellectual level does not make the experience any less frustrating. We worked through that and finally got the car into our body shop guy.  His estimate is that they offered $1,500 less than the actual damage.  The reason we go to this shop is this: he will fight the insurance company for us.  He wins.   That would be why we go to him.  Our daughter’s car, “Lola”, is scheduled for her “face and body lift” the first week of June.  Small victory.

In the meantime, we’ve had at least 10 people on the roof measuring, re-measuring, estimating, re-estimating, bidding, re-bidding…..you get the picture.  It’s all part of the game, but who knew we’d go into so many extra innings?  Yesterday the garage door company came to replace the decorative trim on the door windows. (The only thing the insurance company would approve to replace.) Curve ball: can’t take the trim off with out busting the windows. Can’t get windows that size any longer because they no longer make this particular door.  I made a call. Eventually I won – I get new doors to replace the badly dented ones that “weren’t damaged extensively” – next week.  The roofers will be here Wednesday. I’m hoping we don’t run into a new snag. (I’d think with as many people as have been on our roof they’s have that one pretty well figured out.)  The siding guys will be here when they have a chance to fix only the places there are damage.  I’m expecting to have to call the bullpen again with that one: matching our old siding is going to be impossible.  We’ll take that on as it comes.

Who knew that 15 minutes of hail would cause so much chaos in our lives?  Five weeks of dickering before we saw any kind of progress.  Five weeks of being frustrated. Five weeks of feeling like our insurance company thinks we are trying to rip them off. Five weeks of learning to be patient and let the “system” work.  It’s a great reminder of life: sometimes it takes a REALLY long time to fix what got messed up in a moment. We’ve also been reminded that sometimes things aren’t always what they presented themselves to be.  We’d been paying a little higher premium with the thought that it was worth it for a reputable company’s good service. Their service was great as long as we didn’t need to file a large claim. Now…well…maybe not so much.  We’ve researched and already know who our better “good neighbors” are going to be as soon as all of our current claims are finished.

Still, today is a happy day. The window is repaired (not replaced) the carpet has been cleaned and, since we’d moved everything out anyway, the room is repainted.  A day of victory!!  A day of beginning to feel like we might some day get everything repaired.  It’s “reclaim some normalcy day” in our home.

Now I’m just hoping our daughter will remember how to fall asleep without the help of a big screen television….

 

“Are you sure it wasn’t groundwater?”

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