Hurricane Gustav & Ike – The Insurance Companies

Ok, folks, no pics just facts.  It’s not quite 7 a.m. and I just finished putting my lower kitchen cabinets back into order at my home down the bayou.  Yes, I am trying to make my home livable until we decide what we will do here.  That’s another story for another day.

There are so many new lessons to be learned for me in all this disaster stuff.  I have never made an insurance claim after a hurricane before–mainly because with $1000 deductibles, there was never enough wind damage to do so, and I did not have flood insurance for Rita. 

But this time, I had a wind claim after Gustav and flood claim after Ike at Camp Dularge, and a flood claim after Ike at my home further down the bayou.

And you know how I love serendipitous stories?  How about two really quick?

When LilSis aka Heather Here was down a few weeks ago, we visited the main library in town.  Our bayou library is closed for renovations, so my librarians are working temporarily at main.  It was the first time I had seen my librarian, Mrs. M. since the storms, and I knew her home had flooded–again. 

She told me a story of how she went over the Proof of Loss the insurance adjuster mailed to her.  In doing so, she found several errors–one of which was the fact that he measured the square footage of her house short by 400 feet.  Sparing you all the details–bottom line was that she found $17,000 worth of errors.  After bringing these mistakes to his attention, the adjuster said, “Well, I sure hope the other people down the bayou aren’t as nit-picky as you are.”

Mrs. M. whirled around, slammed her folder down on his desk and said, “Sir, I don’t know how much money you make, but I can assure you that if at the end of the year you found you had been shorted $17,000, you’d be nit-picky too.” 

Go gettum, Mrs. M!

My eighth grade math teacher taught me this saying, “A word to the wise should be sufficient”.  And I’ve never forgotten it.  I went straight home and went over my Proof of Loss for Camp Dularge line by line.  And sure enough, I found mistakes.  I emailed those corrections to my adjuster, and he promptly responded that he would correct them and resubmit to Farm Bureau and “hopefully they will accept the changes”.

That was two weeks ago, and I am still waiting to hear from them. 

Most of the country has forgotten about the hurricane season of 2008 (which doesn’t end until the end of this month folks), but for those of us affected, we are still dealing with adjusters and waiting for money to repair.

SIDEBAR:  State Farm has paid me face value of the flood policy for flood damages at my home down the bayou, because the losses were way more than we were insured for. 

On to serendipity story number two.  Thursday we went to buy a new washer and dryer.  The Captain removed old washer and dryer and scrubbed utility room floor in preparation, as we have a mountain of laundry anxiously awaiting the arrival of new appliances.  (For some reason, my hamper of dirty clothes was riding around in the backseat of my truck.)

Just before leaving for my hair cut appointment early Friday morning, the Lowe’s delivery many called and said the only washer in stock was damaged and didn’t know when they could get another one. 

After my hair appointment, I was committed to helping my oldest son tow his broken down car to the repair shop, but when I called him at 9:30, he was just waking up and would be at least half an hour before arriving in town.  So, remembering the hamper of dirty clothes in my truck and knowing I had no clean jeans and no washer at home, I decided to go to the laundromat.

The first thing I noticed as I drove up was a man in his early forties, sitting on a bench out front reading a hard cover book.  He looked like a white collar type and I wondered why he was here doing laundry on a Friday morning. 

The “mat” was very busy, so I only found one washer available that would hold my load of laundry.  The washer finished about 30 minutes later, and as I was taking the clean clothes out my cell phone rang.  It was a man from FEMA calling from the Parish Permit Office wanting to discuss my  application for an Elevation Permit for Camp Dularge.  (For those of you who don’t know, Camp Dularge has been on the waiting list to be elevated since before Ike, with an anticipated date of Dec. 15th.)

The dryers are stacked one atop the other nowadays, and I absent mindedly chose one on the bottom while trying to focus on this slightly frustrating call from “Jim of FEMA”.  I slid three quarters into the slot and pressed the button for “colored clothing” and nothing happened.  The dryer sat still.

It was only seconds before I realized I had pushed the buttons for the top dryer, giving that person another 18 minutes.  When I informed the attendant, she promptly went and informed the person who was using that dryer.  And who do you think it was?

Mr. White Collar.  With a big smile he thanked me for the extra drying time!  Without forethought, I responded, “I’m sorry.  I was distracted by a frustrating phone call from FEMA.”

And that started the conversation, as he comfortably folded his black jockey shorts, about the flooding of Camp Dularge and my home down the bayou.  Turns out, he’s a contractor who works for a local attorney that offers a service to help people deal with insurance companies that are cheating people out of claim money.  

Hmmmmm.  Mrs. M. and I were calling them “errors” and “mistakes” and “oversights”.

Could we all be so naive?  We think that adjusters are working for us, the insured; when in reality, they just might be looking out for the insuror.  Disclaimer:  This is not to say that all adjusters are unfair or that they cheat people.

As we talked on, he educated me that the common person knows nothing about rates of depreciation and all the fine print on these claims.  I’m sure there is more to it than that, but I believe there is something to what he is saying.

To me, it’s a shame that attorneys must be consulted when premiums have been paid—ON TIME—in order for folks to receive the proper compensation for their losses based on the face value of the coverage.  Just a crying shame.

Bottom line is I am going to see Mr. White Collar this week to let him have a look-see for free.  This is not something I would have sought out for myself.  But the truth is, so many factors fell into place in order for this meeting to happen, that I know it was not accidental.

I’m not sure he will find anything amiss, but for some reason, I have to go through the motions.  Maybe the knowledge can help someone else?

I’ll let you know what he finds.

I always look for the good in people, and I trust establishments like insurance companies.  I don’t like thinking that I have to hire an attorney to get what I paid for in good faith.  

So, sound back to me and tell me how you would feel if you were in our shoes.

Covered but not really covered,

BW

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Comments

Hurricane Gustav & Ike – The Insurance Companies — 16 Comments

  1. Insurance companies suck bayou mud. And I live 30 minutes away from Country Company’s (aka Farm Bureau) and State Farm.

    You geaux girl…..

    Cooking red beans and rice and cleaning house gets my domestic girly side
    out front.

    Lawyers? see insurance company quote above.

  2. Insurance companies only lookout for themselves. These claims have hit insurance companies hard and you better bet there are going to be ‘discrepencies’ not in the policy holders favor. They also are going to take any loophole they can find to not pay out what they should. Not all agents or agencys but there are.
    When it comes to money… YOU take care of YOU. To a company you are just a policy number not a living breathing hurting human.
    You’re on the right track… follow your gut instincts!

  3. Don’t even get me started! Once we get the last thing repaired , send in our receipts, and get our final payment from our carrier, we’re shopping around for a new insurance carrier. They may all operate the same way, but it will give Hubby satisfaction knowing this Co.will be losing these customers. The adjuster 1st assigned to us didn’t come when he said he would, and never bothered to call either. After repeated calls from us for 2 wks. we were assigned another adjuster. Wait 2 more wks for him …he doesn’t come when he said he would, but he did show up eventually. I’m not talking being late by minutes or hours either. I’m talking days later. Jeez…..I got started! Our Insurance experience is almost over, yours is just beginning. Good luck! NUFF SAID!

  4. I hear ya, loud and clear!!! Anybody else want to chime in? Don’t be shy!

    Steffi and Cynthia – we are doing a marsh grass planting Monday and using my boat if you’d like to come down.

    And anyone else who would like to come is more than welcome. I will be picking up a crew around 10 a.m. from the marina. Please email me if you are interested. My email address is captainwendy@wetlandtours.com

  5. After our shed fire the insurance company, American Family, charged us for being underinsured…. yes I am serious. They took a percentage off of what we would have gotten because they said that we were underinsured. YET , we called them regulary to update what machinery we had etc. and NO ONE mentioned that we may be underinsured….

  6. I suppose it’s the same theory used by the federal government for Social Security Disability claims. Mr. B was denied due to a wrong code which they applied to his claim. Even tho 4 doctors and hospitals testified he only has 25% of his heart. We had to hire an atty. and pay him $5000.00 to correct one number on the forms. Ever wonder why all the commercials for attys. specializing in denied SSD claims? The only folks making money are the attys. and insurance companies. And on OUR money!

    OK, I’m done.

  7. Tried to comment earlier but we haven’t had a very good signal. We’re in CA now along the Pacific coast. Looks like things are still happening for you. I’m very glad to hear you’re still making them happen! 🙂

  8. I’m still annoyed that the adjuster (?) originally said they couldn’t pay you “again” for the things that weren’t repaired in Camp Dularge from the last round of storms. I still think that’s a crock since you didn’t even own the house then! Shouldn’t they pay you for these things because you’re a new owner with a whole new premium that YOU have paid to them? Maybe I just don’t understand it because I’m so green around the gills where all things insurance are concerned… You just make sure you get what’s yours! Don’t take any crap! 🙂

  9. Oh boy. Just when it seems like you’ve got enough to deal with, here comes this mess. It just makes me furious–like paying for car insurance only to have them tell you they can’t cover all the costs of repairs because car is too old or has too many miles on it. What is the insurance for anyway?

    I hope the man you met is a good guy who will really help you, and not someone who will try to take more of your money. Seems like so often that’s the case.

  10. Well, the meeting with the insurance guy didn’t happen. It’s Veterans Day and they were closed. Thanks for the courtesy call, sir! And I missed out on a good fishing day, darn it.
    BW

    Thanks Vets!

  11. As I was reading through your blog’s entry, I was first impressed by the series of events that the Lord led you on to meet with the man who would be able to help you wade through the paperwork. It’s providential to say the least!

    And the second thing is that not all insurance agents – and companies – are evil, any more than any other profession is. I say this because my dad was an insurance agent with Traveler’s for years and then the CEO of the “Big I’s” of SC, and he personally felt he was in a ministry of mercy and helps. I can remember him coming home at night and having us as a family pray for individuals who were having troubles, and I can also remember his digging into our funds to help people who did not purchase enough insurance to provide the needed coverage…so, all that to say, while I certainly understand what you all have faced, I would encourage you to seek out the ethical and insurance agents/companies who provide service with integrity — they do exist.

    Just my two cents worth from a different perspective…

  12. Vance – And what a welcomed perspective it is! And very good advice about seeking out ethical agents and companies with integrity, but I’m not sure just how to go about that?

    Thanks so much for sharing your story about your dad. It is encouraging and heart warming, to say the least.

    I’m not sure, though, that when it comes time to pay huge claims in time of major disasters where so many have been stricken, that local agents (whom you had no reason to doubt or distrust) have any bearing on what the “parent” company decides the final payoff will be.

    Regardless, your father’s and family’s response was admirably generous and compassionate. What a dear man of God . . . . .

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