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Weathering the Financial Storm

We live in an area that is prone to suffer the ravages of hurricanes.  And our property insurance reflects just that.  In fact, just a few years ago, after the area was hit by not one, but TWO major hurricanes in the span of 2 weeks, our insurance company dropped us like a bad habit.

It did not matter that we had never ever filed any kind of claim.  And paid our insurance EARLY every year.  And that this same large company also carries our car, life, AND flood insurance.  According to our insurance agent, 75% of the houses covered by their property insurance division were dropped.  And it was completely random.  Even he was dropped by his own company.

He took pity on me and helped me locate another reputable company that would carry our property insurance.  And he could still act as the go-between so I would be able to contact him with any problems or questions.

This year when I picked myself up off of the cheap linoleum after opening our insurance bill, I gave him a call that basically began with WHAT THE HECK???? Our yearly insurance had jumped a good $500.00.  That’s quite a leap.  Considering that still, we have never filed a claim on any property damage (which thank God, we’ve been spared from).

He talked me down by explaining new laws, and taxes, and legislature, and blah blah blah, please stop because my eyes are rolling into the back of my head, my ears are bleeding, and I’m no longer listening to you.

Then he suggested that I hire an inspection company to come out and assess our roof and building material, for a possible discount.  The general cost of such an inspection was about $100.  I was dubious, because our house was built by Johnny Fly-By-Night Builders who hired people right out of the gutter to do contract work for them.

Oh, you’ve NEVER laid carpet before?  YOU’RE PERFECT FOR THE JOB.  What?  You haven’t seen a sober day in 5 years?  YOU WILL PAINT THE WALLS AND LAY THE BATH TILE!

I am still finding stuff that they did that curls my toenails, all of these 11 years later.  But, whatever.

I made an appointment with the inspector because I’m a girl that likes to live on the edge.  But I honestly assumed that he’d discover our roof was held together with chewing tobacco and staples, and then our insurance company would be forced to charge us MORE.

However.  After talking with him after the inspection, he said that our builder did use the right materials, and it should net me a savings on my insurance.  Really, they used actual NAILS?

A couple of days ago, the amended insurance bill came in, and get this, our yearly insurance is now $100 less than it was LAST YEAR.

In other words, that simple phone call to my insurance agent ended up saving us nearly $500.00.  (Including the $100 spent on the inspector.)

Lesson learned: it doesn’t hurt to ask.

8 Responses to Weathering the Financial Storm

  • Good Job! My family is all having the same problem. I will have to let them know about hiring an inspector. It’s really crazy they can just drop you! Glad you saved so much money!

  • I wonder if that holds true in non-hurricane-prone areas. We’re here in the midwest, and our home owner’s insurance went up almost 50% over last year (again, no claims filed). 😮

    • Kathy,

      I would totally call your insurance agent, and see if there is any kind of inspection you can have done to lower your rate. Sometimes insurance is reduced if you have a security alarm, storm doors and/or windows, etc. It’s worth a try! 🙂

  • DeeDee, that is not a nice picture for your Florida readers. I believe my twitch is back just from looking at it. I live in Polk County. Luckily in the northern part and we escaped with very little damage that year. Our insurance company did not drop us and we have made a claim or two, including after the last hurricane. ( I dare not speak the names aloud during hurricane season! )
    Anyway, it is nice to know that an inspection might drop your rate. Our insurance has gone up slowly since 2004 but the total would be at least a $500 increase. I will have to check into getting an inspection. Thanks for the info. I might even forgive you for the picture 🙂

  • Don’t even get me started on construction stuff. My Hubby is getting out of it because they are constantly getting under bid by people that cut every corner. Friends of ours fixed up a room only to discover their insulation was maxi pads. Guess it stuck to the wall really well.

  • I was shocked that our car ins went up. I called and blah, blah, blah yes rates are going up. Then we ended up trading in our 2 vehicles for 2 newer (not new!) vehicles and that saved us $ b/c the 2 newer vehicles have better safety features. 🙂 You’re right, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

  • Everyone in Florida should absolutely do that inspection! Get the name of a local inspector from your ins. agent. I too have the same company you did. Our house, 1/2 hour Southwest of Ft. Lauderdale, has been insured with them since I was a baby (was my mom’s house.) A few years ago our premium was $1200/yr. After all the hurricanes came through we got our premium and it changed to $4800/yr! Our little house has never had a claim and we had shutters (albeit weak aluminum) etc. I called the agent who suggested the inspection, which I had never heard of. I think it cost $50. We were adding a 300 square foot addition at the time, and the inspector could see into our rafters easily, etc.

    The revised bill came and it was for $2400! Half of what they wanted to raise it to. That year, Florida also had a program where they gave money to homeowners to upgrade their home for hurricanes (shutters etc.) We applied the moment we could, and we qualified for free storm panels. We decided to pay part if we could get accordions, which is what we did. So we now have these great accordion shutters on most of the windows and on the older doors, plus our addition has impact resistant windows and Dade county approved doors.

    I submitted all this to the insurance company and the next year’s premium was back to $1200/yr! (partially because the State of Florida passed some sort of law that lowered it too). We even got an unexpected check from the company this year for $1100 since they found we had overpaid over the years during an internal audit they did. It allowed us to go on our first vacation in years.

    So, if you have not had your home inspected do so. The agent had told me originally that no one he knew came out the worse for the inspection, and that one owner got $800/yr cheaper – we beat that handily with our reduction. DO IT, don’t wait!

    We were also very lucky that we were not one of the ones randomly dropped this year. I can only fear that that will happen someday and we won’t get another company and be on the Citizen’s state insurance. My nightmare.

  • We started wondering about why we were paying so much for our car insurance. We have been with the same company for ages and I think we had ONE claim in 10+ years. So we called and the agent said he couldn’t really do anything without cutting a ton of our coverage. That didn’t seem right so we went to another well known car insurance place and found they would give us BETTER coverage than we had and it was only going to cost us $475 for six months (we WERE paying $1300 for six months!!) You can bet we dropped our old agent like a hot potato!!

    We switched our homeowners’ insurance also and that ended up saving us $300 a year.