Monday, February 21, 2011

825 The Contract

825 The Contract

So it’s time to renew the homeowners insurance and here comes the bill and it’s maybe 15% higher than last year’s. Hmmm... maybe the house has gotten more vulnerable in a year. Or is it something else?

Let’s call around and get some quotes. It’s no problem to find a policy with more coverage for about 40% less than the bill sitting here, so we sign up.

One thing about insurance companies, they bill early. Okay, we’ll cancel this policy when we get the “second notice.” Sure enough, a second notice arrives and we call the insurance company to cancel and guess what? They don’t admit to having a customer service department, at least not via telephone.

But sneaky us! We fool around with the telephone keypad for awhile and sure enough, there IS such a department, only they don’t advertise it because (1) this is not a claim and (2) why bother with people like... um … customers needing customer service.

Surprisingly, the department is not in India, it’s in Hartford. Unsurprisingly they don’t want you to cancel, so they don’t make it easy.

“Call your agent.”

“I’m not on speaking terms with my agent.”

“I’ll send you the forms you have to fill out. You’ll get them in about ten business days.”

“What if I just don’t pay the bill?”

“We’ll cancel for non payment and report it to the credit bureaus.”

“Why can’t I just tell you on the phone?”

“We have a contract with you.”

“Yeah, but it has an expiration date and I want it to expire.”

Why all this hullabaloo? Why the price increase? Probably, because there was a claim during the past year. Not a payment, just a claim, later withdrawn.

But the “adjuster” did her job. A chirpy young woman who knows that her job is to make sure no claim is ever paid, and who knows her customers know and are not shy about reminding her.

Ever read the fine print in your insurance policies? It makes the credit card companies seem like they actually speak English. They should issue a dictionary or at least a glossary with the policy.

Shrapnel (insurance edition):

--Fifteen minutes did not help at least one customer save 15% or more on car insurance and did not present a quantity discount for combined home and car insurance, so, so much for that company.

--Another tells you to ask your neighbor about the quality of their work. Can’t find a soul with a policy, or even the one that assures you you’re in good hands and protects you against driving teen texters. So, so much for THOSE companies.

--Then there’s the one that “keeps you legal for less” and one that says “yes” without your having to supply any personal information. The first means “barely legal,” and the second is on death watch. So like King Kong Bundy, it’s a pin fall with a five count.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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