Two Cents Worth

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So much of who we are is founded in our experiences.

I know the whole nurture vs nature argument and I think both are influences, but each encounter and involvement, no matter how brief, slight, significant or lasting, impacts to some extent how we think, feel and function in this world.

A piece of advice I share these days is to read your insurance policy and know exactly what it says. This is a life lesson I learned through a recent, specific experience.

As you know, I had a 65-foot-plus tree come down on my house during a strong wind storm about a month ago. It has been a long and somewhat bumpy road to bring me back to where I was before the tree. In my mind this is what insurance is designed to do, to make you whole. It’s why you pay premiums year after year.

The roof is secure but not replaced as yet but I am hopeful that will be completed soon. The tree has been taken off the roof and the debris finally removed so we are almost there.

From this very unsettling experience I have learned insurance is interpretive. I read my policy over and over again and my understanding was diametrically opposed to the company’s. Complicating this was the many layers involved. You start with your broker followed by contact from the desk adjuster who hands you over to the contractor, who assigns the various trades needed, and finally a field adjuster. Way too many people to deal with at a time of stress. Although many folks said this is a way to break us down to accept their terms, I hesitate to paint them with that devious of a brush but... Many people did say when confronted with “That’s not covered,” would have just said, “Oh, OK.”

My broker was excellent. She stood by me, agreed with me, fought for me and did all she could to help. The contractor was efficient, helpful and always pleasant. The tree guy and roof guy were understanding and supportive. I didn’t hear from the field adjuster until much later but he told me to do whatever I needed doing and he would be along as soon as he finished the 75 cases ahead of me.

I know I didn’t mention the desk adjuster.

I have to commend him on his patience with me. He never raised his voice even when I was loudly disagreeing with him. He spoke for the company, and its interpretation of my policy was not in line with mine. I came at it from a property damage angle and he wanted to use the tree damage clause. These two sections have very different analyses of what is to be done with the debris and who is to pay for it. The removal of the tree from the roof and fixing the damaged roof was never in question. Removal of debris became a major dispute since I felt I was not being returned to my original condition with a cut up tree and a huge pile of branches in my front yard. We eventually worked through our differences, came to an understanding and an acceptable interpretation to get done what I needed. (Or maybe he just wanted to be rid of me.)

Some very important lessons I learned from all this were to cultivate a relationship with your insurance broker, fully arm yourself with knowledge and understanding of your policy, and be willing to stand up for yourself.

I think these lessons will stand all of us in good stead through many unpleasant experiences - nurture relationships, secure the necessary knowledge and always stand up for yourself and your rights. 



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