Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Insurance Talk

So, I have 4 different insurance companies insuring 2 cars, and house, and a rental unit. It is a pain. The problem has always been that I can't get one company to insure everything, When I bought the 03 VW GTI it was on a weekend, so I signed up with Geico on line. It was easy, but Geico is a pain to deal with. I pay the insurance every 6 months and I get the bill in the mail usually about 5 days before it is due. Five Days! I mean, how incompetent can a company be that they can't get out a biannual bill sooner that a week before it is due.

This is not an isolated instance with them. This time it was issued on the 19th, I got it on the 24th, and it is due on the first of September. Every time this has happened I say I'm going to drop them and this time I did. Allstate insures my home and they have all of the ads now saying how I can save money if I switch from Geico. Plus I get a discount on my homeowner's insurance if I also insure my car.

I called my agent and faxed her over the paper work from Geico. She called me back a few minutes later and said that even if I went with the bare legal limits on my car insurance, they still wouldn't come close to Geico. WTF! I didn't bother to ask her about the ads on TV. Even with the discount I would get on homeowner's insurance because I added my car, it still wasn't worth it. They were easily 40% higher than Geico.

I then called AAA (CSAA around here). They insure the 71 Ford pickup. I told them I wanted to insure 2 cars, home and rental property, but I wanted to make sure they insured post and pier foundation. For a while they said they definitely did not, but that story has been changing in the last few years, depending on who you talk to at CSAA. The guy I was talking to only handled car insurance, but told me the policy had changed about 2 years ago. Their auto insurance rates were very good. I increased my coverage on the 03 GTI and lowered my premium by about $175 a year compared to Geico. For my truck CSAA sends a bill every month and I can pay all of it or make 12 monthly payments.

He then transferred me over to homeowner's insurance. I got a young woman with a charming southern accent. Even though it is CSAA (California State Automobile Association) she was in Arizona. The conversation went like this.

Judy: Hello, this is Judy, how can I help you today?

Me: I want to see about insuring my home and a rental property. I currently have 2 cars with CSAA.

Judy: Ok, let's start with the home. Is your primary residence?

Me: Yes, but before we go any further, do you insure homes on a post and pier foundation.

Judy: Oh no, I'm sorry we don't.

Me: Are you sure? The people at my local office and the guy in auto insurance told me the policy has changed.

Judy: Well, let me find out. Hold on.

Me: {listening to hold music}

Judy: How far off the ground is your house?

Me: Umm, 2 feet, maybe

Judy: Oh, only 2 feet. Then that is no problem. I thought you meant it was like built in to the side of a mountain or something. You know, like on stilts.

Me: Nope, just 2 feet off the ground.

Judy: Ok, well let me get some information and then I can get you a quote.

Judy: How many square feet.

Me: About 3000, maybe a little more.

Judy: How old is the roof, plumbing, and electrical.

Me: Everything has been replaced in the last 10 years. It is all new, and brought up to modern code.

Judy: Great. And what year was it built.

Me: 1895

Judy: Oh, it must be beautiful. I love those old home.

Me: Well,I like it

Judy: Oh, hold on a minute. I need to check the manual.

Me: {Listening to hold music}

Judy: Well, because it was built before 1900 you would need to gut the home to the studs and put it on a cement foundation before we could insure it. Is that something you are willing to do.

Me: No, I really don't think so, but thank you anyway.

Judy: Ok, well thank you for call CSAA!


Tomorrow I call State Farm


BunnyMendelbaum said...

We have Geico car insurance for the same reason, no one can touch the rates. I have it signed up for auto-pay online because I was getting the bills so late too.
We ended up going with Liberty Mutual home insurance because no other company would insure a house governed by historic district board AND not charge us ridiculous rates. You might want to check them out too.

Greg said...

I can't do the auto-pay thing. It's just me, I know. I'm being dragged kicking and screaming in to the 21st century, and I work in IT for a living. If you have AAA in your area, check them out. It was a better deal than Geico.

I will check out Mutual Home. Thanks.

StuccoHouse said...

You might already be aware of this link

And I'm with you on the auto bill pay.

St. Blogwen said...

Gut the house to the studs?? And lose all your plaster and grooved lath? Nooooooooooo!!!!!!

Kate H.
The Sow's Ear

(My verification word is "howingl." About it, no?

ellipsisknits said...

I think the answer to give companies asking when houses were built is '1900'. That's what all the real estate listing in this area say anyway. I assume it's just non-y2k compliant-ese for 'darn long time ago'

Karen Anne said...

I hate auto pay. I have never used it since I had my mortgage payments automatically taken out of my Crocker Bank checking account and Bank of America, which unbeknownst to me handled this, took it out twice in one month. Their response was, we'll just not take it out next month,.

If the back office elves at Crocker hadn't been working like dogs, many people would have had checks bouncing. Just one reason I'll never do business with B of A again or use autopayments.

I used to have State Farm insurance, but after a flood they were Not Helpful. The "engineer" they sent out to look at the damage wrote up a report that even had the flood water coming in the wrong direction.

(I didn't even know I lived several blocks from a creek until it was in my yard, I had just bought flood insurance because I was in a flood zone, which I thought was due to a bay about a mile away.)

So it is worth asking around about how well Geico actually pays for damages.

I have Amica now for my cars and liability, their customer service is great. They charge more than State Farm used to, but they were very super when I had an accident. I complain a lot about customer service, so I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

For homeowners I have to go with whomever the local agent can scrape up due to yet again being in a flood zone. The agent handles the flood insurance also.

Karen Anne said...

By the way, according to local newspaper reports when I lived in California, State Farm shafted people left and right after the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Greg said...

I think ellipsisknits has it right. Don't lie to the insurance company, just say, "The real estate listing said it was built in 1900". I would not be lying if I said that.

Greg said...

Most of the insurance companies you mention are known as "direct writers". What they do, they do well. What they do not (mostly) do is provide coverage for old wood-frame buildings. When you call a direct writing company, you speak with someone who has only their products available. Local independent agents (though not this one) often work with companies like California Insurance Group (with an office in Ferndale) who know our area and understand the unique nature of these buildings. In Eureka, George Petersen & Associates or Darlene Penfold Ageny are good; we are out on Table Bluff and have our place insured with the Becker Agency in Ferndale. Any of these can help you, probably much better than a
direct writer or internet-based carriers.

Greg Conners Lic 0488272
Fortuna, CA

Greg said...

Oh - and do NOT fib on any insurance application. It could be cause to deny a claim at some later date.

Laikabear said...

My house was built in 1929 and AAA said the same thing to me - gut it to the studs and then we'll talk. I ended up going with Farmer's (not State Farm) for both HO and auto. The cost was very reasonable.

My agent is great and I have been happy with them. I had a car accident in April that was my fault and I totaled my car and they were very helpful, FWIW. Also, they have no dog breed specific exclusions for the HO policy, which is important to me since my Doberman would be excluded by some companies.

Good luck, whatever you choose. That billing situation with Geico is ridiculous. I use online bill pay for most monthly things, but not biannual bills. Isn't there a law they have to give you more time than that? I know there is with credit cards. Mine are creeping toward about 10-14 days, but none have gotten to 7. What if you were on vacation? Sheesh!!!

Greg said...

It is ridiculous with Geico. With the first couple of bills I posted comments about the timelyness issue on their web site and received no response. I get the feeling it would be the same if I ever had to file a claim.

Joosmeister said...

Our 1938 is insured by State Farm. After a tornado we eventually had a $40K+ claim and they did a great job. Adjusters were there within a week, check on the spot with our mortgage bank. Dealing with the contractors for insurance work was the hardest part.

Hayduke said...

I ran into much of the same nonsense. My auto insurance is CSAA. I home (not quite as old as yours but equally difficult to insure) is with State Farm. Call Paul Nicholson. Tell him I sent you. Good luck.

Greg said...

Thanks Hayduke, I'll give him a call.

If I had the money I'd insure with Lloyds of London for true replacement value. With a good policy from them, if my house burns to the ground I can get it rebuilt exactly as it was, right down to the redwood 2X4s in the walls.

Debbie said...

My home owners insurance was quoted at about $890 before I bought my house. After I signed the paperwork for my house I couldn't find an insurer for under $1300 a year. Apparently because it's made of brick and 102 years old. I have to insure everything in it. I don't have flood or earthquake insurance so I hope it never happens!