Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Do You Mean "If"?!

So after the little conversation with the Monday plumber (who, incidentally, was here to fix the brand new water heater, not here for the raining ceiling--and yes, that's another story), we put in a call to the insurance company about the shower leak. They sent out a restoration expert the very next day to assess the situation. There were three of them, actually, and they spent a long time poking at walls and moving furniture and scribbling cryptic notes. They were remarkably uncommunicative during this process. It reminded me of the doctor who pokes and prods and mutters, "Hmmm...that's interesting" during the exam. Not reassuring.

And then the Head Guy--I assume he was the Head Guy, since he did the talking while the other two stood in the background looking grave--announced we need to tear out half our walls, ceilings, and flooring. As he went into great detail describing the parts of my house that are now melting into puddles around us and the potential for life-threatening mold and the possibility of asbestos, all I could think, in my cynical fashion, was "yeah, yeah...that's how you make your money, isn't it?"--until he got to the part where he said, "...and that room upstairs with all the...the, know, where you do your...the room with all the yarn?" and I did the human equivalent of what my dogs do when I say the word "dinner." What about the room with all the yarn?!

It's wet, is what. Not the yarn, thank the KG--and yeah, I asked, twice--but the wall. And the floor. My knitting room shares a wall with the kids' bathroom--the same wall the shower is against. And that wall is, according to the Head Guy, "unsalvageable." As is the IKEA Expedit unit that stores the yarn. Again, according to the Head Guy. This prompted me to ask again about the yarn, and I think he finally caught on that the yarn, for some inexplicable reason, is Important. That maybe it is so Important to the crazy lady of the house that it could be used as a bargaining chip to get me on board with the whole, "we have to tear down half your house" idea. Because he immediately began reassuring me that only one corner of the yarn storage is wet, and he personally removed the yarn from the wet section and put it across the room. And, if the insurance company approves the claim, his guys will very carefully box the yarn, exactly as it is in the bookcase right now, by color, and label it, and make sure it goes back where it belongs.

Oh. Okay, then. Carry on. That will be just...Wait. If. IF? IF the insurance company approves the claim? What do you mean IF?!

And so I learned that, despite the thousands of dollars I have paid the insurance company every year for many years to protect my house--and my credit rating--in the event of fire, earthquake, accident, or other disaster, I am not guaranteed that they will ever pay me should one of these things happen. No. This is determined on a case by case basis by...the insurance company.

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? I mean, the insurance company is in the business of taking money, not giving it, right? So what possible incentive could they have to pay out money when they have the option of saying, "Nah. That's not a covered loss. Sorry."?

So I am quietly freaking out to the sound of the ginormous de-humidifiers the restoration guys installed on both levels of my house (the knitting room got its very own) while we await the insurance company's decision.



Anonymous said...

Time to stop thinking like a homeowner and start thinking like a lawyer. And you're going to hate it, believe me, the last time I did this I was getting paid for it and I still hated it.

Check your policy so you know what the disclaimers are. This will take hours but you can use it to amuse yourself as you wait for your kids to get out of your bathroom. That way when they come back with the 'it's not covered' statement, you are in a position to respond. “And just where in the docs is that stated because that's not how I read it'.

After that there will be an annoying internal appeal process. Again see policy. It will be arcane and heavily weighted against both intuition and everything you know about civil procedure. Document *everything*. Point out early in the process that both you and KH have law degrees. In fact point this out often. If you get lucky somebody in the insurance company's legal department will decide that it's cheaper to pay you than respond to you.

If all else fails, be sure the contractor you hire to actually fix the thing will be a good witness and file a, hopefully, small claims court action. The reason insurance companies get away with this sort of thing is most people give up rather than fight over it, so think of it as pro bono work.

kmkat said...

Insurance typically only covers *sudden* damage, not *slowly-over-time* damage. Be that as it may, do what Joylee56 says; those law degrees will come in handy. Good luck.

Linda said...

Omg! What a nightmare! There is nothing - nothing! - worse than water leaks and damage. I agree with joylee56, check your insurance policy. And be ready for a fight; maybe the fight of your life, sorry to say. Good luck with everything. Omg; I've broken out in a cold sweat just thinking about water everywhere. Stay strong!

sophanne said...

I have no printable words. I saved this post in my reader hoping I would find some good ones. Everything I'm thinking sounds like Richard pryor's early comedy

Unknown said...

Oh my! How are you so calm? No house for yarn? I'd be apoplectic by now. Well, immediately that man spoke. Seems like your insurance companies are run by the same ***** ours are.

Skatequeenknitter said...

AS an ex wife of an insurance contractor who used to do this type of repair there have been many changes if they decide that the mold and mildew has been there for quite some time they can turn your claim down they say that you should have known you had damage from previous water damaged areas if you fix a water damage area and don't fix the mold and or mildew they can say the repair is not their responsibility since you did't fix it when you fixed the original problem. Good luck with dealing with this issue. And since you and your husband are both attorneys you might want to start researching your policy's and other options to help do some arm twisting. Hope ot hear all goes well

Steph B said...

Oh wow. I have no words. Praying this all works out the way it *should*, not necessarily the way the insurance company wants! Hang tough!