Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Things That Ruffle My Feathers

I don't walk around constantly angry or complaining and I think most people who know me would agree I don't get ticked off easily or often.
Still, there are things that ruffle my feathers pretty quickly ... like the news that my parent's homeowner insurance is being cancelled by the company (Travellers) that they have used for decades.
Florida insurance companies cancelling home owner's insurance is not new, they've been backing out of long standing insurance agreements for a couple of years here in FL.
Content to suck money from homeowners for decades, as soon as they are required to fulfill their responsibility to storm damaged residents, they decided to carpetbag it right out of the Florida market.
I can understand revisiting policies of waterfront homes, since building on barrier islands and directly adjacent to salt water is a high risk proposition in hurricane country. (I'm biting my tongue here and not using words like foolish, stupid, etc)
This weekend, Mom called me and told me that their home in St. Augustine was being dropped by Travellers Insurance Company, the same company they had used for decades. During this time the concrete block house they built as newlyweds in 1957 has withstood countless brush by's and a roll overs by tropical storms and hurricanes.
The house is simple and strong. It survived Dora when I was a kid without a scratch. Google Hurricane Dora images for some views of what Dora did to St. Johns County in 1964. Hurricane Dora's path took it right over their house. It wiped parts of Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine Beach off the map, but did not damage this strong little house set back from the ocean.
Hurricane David in the '78 or '79, dropped a pine tree the size of a ship's mast on my bedroom, but my parents made no claim. I was in my bed at the time and woke up on the floor after the enormous crash.
The storms of 2004 and 2005 tossed a branch through a backyard shed, but still they handled it themselves with no claim.
Now in their late '70's they find themselves without insurance coverage after faithfully paying those insurance bills for what ... half a century?
"Life is not fair" is one of those lessons Mom and Dad taught me growing up.
I guess they were right about that one.


debbie said...

I can relate. After having State Farm for years, and years, and years . . . with NO claims, we were dropped. However, my mortgage company helped me out by taking responsibility for finding a new ins. company. It's especially frustrating for those of us in the old CBS (concrete, block, sand) instead of the McMansions. I grew up in a CBS house in Miami, those suckers can withstand anything - - except maybe a tree falling on them.

kathy a. said...

that truly stinks.

smilin-buddha said...

I recently got the chance and went on Citizens. My old company was offering me a deal at 2200 for the year. I got onto Citizens and they offered me a policy of 1693 for the year. I had trouble they won't cover my dogs. That damn Rott mix is a killer. Well if you are a bowl of Mac and cheese maybe. So I got a hurricane mitigation inspection and my rates dropped. I would check into them. I got my policy through Allstate. I have a buddy that has a wood frame house and he pays less than me because it was built a few years after my house. I would have moved north but the wife likes the south Florida area. My house is Concrete reinforced and my roof has the straps. I also have shutters for all the windows.

roger said...

hooray for the "free market".....NOT.

scott said...

It’s a pisser but maybe an opportunity as well. We had been with Allstate for cars and homes since 1983, never made a claim, and they chose not to renew our home owners last spring because our house was stucco and not brick. We are at least 25 miles inland from the terminus of the Houston ship channel and probably 70 from any sort of open Gulf. I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway we checked out Triple A, covered the house at an equal price and saved about $500/year on the autos. Apparently AAA knows that wind damage is roof damage, and roof damage is not that bad.

It is a pain in the ass for older people I’m sure. If it were my mom, I’d be angry too.

SophieMae said...

Dawg! That sucks swamp water! They should be made to refund at least a years' worth of premiums. Where's Big Brother when it really counts? We've mostly been pretty happy with Farm Bureau, but I still make a point of shopping around every now and then, just in case.

robin andrea said...

I always think a well-written letter with just the right amount of chastisement and anger is a very good thing. It won't change your parent's situation, but letting those Travellers miscreants know that at the other end of their ruthless big business decisions is a kind and good older couple who have never filed a claim may at least give them a single moment of guilt. Nyah. That won't happen either. I hope your parent's search for insurance is an easy one.

Jim said...

You - and all of us in Florida - have a right to be angry. The insurance companies have weilded too much political clout for too long. Money talks. They're allowed to subdivide their national companies into state companies, then to whine about balancing the books within each state whenever there's one year of a major catastrophe like a hurricane or wildfires. That allows them to "forget" the billions of profits accummulated over the decades within a state - or for the national company, even in the same year of losses within one state or region.

It may take a national solution - but I'm not holding my breath that politicians can wean themselves from the money and do the right thing.

threecollie said...

That is just lousy. A major farm organization of which I am an actively participating member started an insurance company for their members many years ago. The minute that company went off on its own, separate from said organization (which is mentioned in a comment above), the first thing it did was threaten to stop writing farm policies....eventually it pretty much backed away from that but....

Have you noticed that "insurance company" is actually a four-letter word even though it doesn't look like one?

Sharon said...

That is such crap. Sometimes I think it would work out better to put what you normally pay in ins. premiums into a money market or some such. Then if something happens, pay for it yourself. If nothing ever does, you still have your own dang money. >:( It seems like more than half the time, they have some way to weasel out of paying some or all of your claims anyway.

Cathy S. said...

Preach it brother. We are expecting our termination notice any day. We have had no claims either, though we do live on an island, it is not barrier. Two weeks of my salary each month goes to insurance. Homeowners, Flood, Auto, Liability. Of course, I do have two teenage BOYS but it still isn't right.

kathy a. said...

i don't know if here is any help to be had, but a couple of places to start complaining might be the state department of insurance, and the state department of consumer affairs. [they might be called different things in different states.] no down side to complaining to local, state, and federal officials and representatives, either.

i've only dealt with denials of claims, and in a different state at that -- a different animal than a decision to no longer cover. but in the context of denials of claims, complaining really does help.

it is really ticking me off that insurance companies only seem to care about the quarterly profits, NOT about insuring individuals so risks can be shared.

Hurricane Teen said...

I'll say it. It's thost idiots who are building their houses on sandbars that are causing people like your parents to lose their insurance. My grandma's house is exactly the same and in the exact same area...Her insurance is going soon, too. I hate it, but I guess we will have to make some sacrifices in order for "progress" to occur.

kathy a. said...

"progress" for whom? HT, you are probably on the right track in some ways, but i just don't see anyone benefitting except ins. co. executives and investors. the clear losers are people like your grandma and FC's parents -- the exact people who shouldn't lose.

eyemkmootoo said...

I really feel your pain. I keep waiting for that letter. Or do they give you a warm personal phone call when they dump this big bucket of poop on your head.

Deb said...

Don't get me started. I probably could not even get homeowners' insurance on the place we're living in now, not to mention the new house. Wood heat is taboo, even with state of the art stoves. And pretty soon they'd have someone out telling me to get rid of the horses, put a razor wire fence around the pond, and tell me how often to stain the exterior of any outbuildings. What good would it do anyway? If anything happened, they would find some loophole so they would not cover a loss, then they would drop me like a hot potato because I'm suddenly a "risk".

Some insurance agent told my uncle that he could not allow me to allow my kids to go near the lakeshore unsupervised. The same lakeshore I grew up on, mostly unsupervised. I told my uncle how I felt about that, and it wasn't pretty.

That is horrible how they treated your parents. Just horrible.

Floridacracker said...

To All,
I forgot to mention in my prebreakfast writing that Mom and Dad also added very expensive professionally installed hurricane shutters three years ago. This house could hardly be any more hurricane proof.

I know it's happening all over the state, but now they've got my attention.
You're right about the concrete block homes.

Kathy A,
Good advice. Thanks. HTeen was being sarcastic about "progress", trust me.
I think my Mom is drafting one heck of a letter to Travellers.

Smilin B,
Sounds like your house is ready!

the whole concept of insurance is pretty strange if you think about it too much.

That's amazing. By the time a cane reached you it would just be a good storm. 70 miles inland?

We use Farm Bureau also and I think they do get some credit for not dropping folks the way the other companies have.
When we built our house, they were the only company that would insure us due to our distance from any kind of fire protection.

Thanks. Mom told me she was going to send them a thorough letter. Her insurance broker is seeking replacement insurance.

Very true. All take and no return.

I have noticed that lately.
I use that company too.

I think you're right, we might come out ahead. They do have those weasely high deductibles on homes alos.

Cathy S,
I hope it doesn't happen to you.
I now have a teen boy driver on my bill too and OUCH!!
When do the kids start paying their own insurance and cell phone bills?

They build and then demand seawalls and beach renourishment at taxpayer's expense.
Too crazy.
Sorry about your grandma's situation. I just found out they cancelled my brother's also. He lives near, but not on the San Sebastion.

Apparently it's a letter.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks, it does seem as though you are damned if you do and damned if you don't when it comes to insurance.
Gotta hate it.

kathy a. said...

hteen, i'm sorry for sounding "off", and i know i did about your comment. i'm very sorry your grandparents are going through this.

Coontie-Nut said...

ALL insurance companies SUCK! In Texas if you made a claim on a serious mold issue we had a few years ago they canceled you immediately for filing the claim. Then after paying off the Texas polititions they eventually changed the law to make it a non covered item. Sickning. On something completely different I read your earlier blogg on Coonties and was hoping to trade for or buy some coonie seeds from you. I prefer coonie seeds that are collected in habitat.
Thanks, George aka Coontie-Nut

Floridacracker said...

Kathy A,
No problem. Your advice was excellent. HTeen is that rare teen who has a sense of history and what we are losing here in FL. That's how I knew he was using "progress" sarcastically.

Coontie Nut,
Ditto on the insurance companies. I'm glad I don't work for one. Not sure how I'd handle that.
As for the coontie seeds, I'd be glad to send you a few when I have them again. My brood plants are producing big fat cones right now, but I have no seeds and won't until they ripen.
Keep checking Pure Florida and ask again when I post about gathering coontie seeds. I'll get you some then.
My place is perfect coontie habitat and both varieties are natives here. One has a little wider blade than the other.
Welcome to Pure Florida!

smilin-buddha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
smilin-buddha said...

Off the subject I need a few Coontie seeds if anyone is blessing others with seeds.

Check Citizens. And also check outh the new company they try to get you insurance with Bests Review. I work at the library. They have those review books. I called one of those agents. They had a great new company to get me on. I checked them in bests Review they had a poor review. And had no liquid assets. Make sure to check out all your companys. You have to look at their rating. It tells you the amount of money they have to cover your losses. Some comppanys have a poor review when that happens many times they go Bankrupt. Than you are moved over to the state and they have to fight to get your money back. My friend still has damage and has been fighting with his old company for the last two years.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks Smilin B,
Just watch for a coontie seed post a few months from now. I won't have any til then.