Tag Archives: water damage

Insurance, Take Two

There’s been more drama on the insurance front. After having my claim denied because there may or may not have been mold–Wife is telling me that what I thought was black mold was actually felt paper that had disintegrated. I wasn’t aware that FELT paper was used under flooring. My bad–I filled out one of those form contact things for my insurance agent. You see, my representative (Brian) never calls us back. Ever. We’ve been trying to review our policies for the past several years, and he’s always in meetings or unavailable. My interpretation of that is either 1) his office staff sucks (which I don’t think is the case) or 2) he has bowel problems. He might want to see a gastroenterologist. My uncle is an awesome one. Everybody likes getting him poop-themed gifts. I guess when you choose that major, you know you’re going to put up with a certain amount of shit.

Anyway, I wanted to look up my claim to see how they wrote it up, but it was GONE. Erased. Nonexistent. Since my agent’s picture was on the left side of the screen, taunting me with his Glamour Shots portrait, I decided to tell Brian that I wasn’t pleased and that I was shopping elsewhere for insurance. I spent the majority of this week researching and giving my information to various companies in exchange for quotes. Did you know they don’t actually let you read the policy until you buy it? There should be an Angie’s List for that–a place where people can scan and upload their policies (blocking out personal information) so we can truly comparison shop. I guess transparency only applies to panties and bras.

I was going to print out the emails just so I could black out the personal information (because I thought the effect would be cool), but I opted to do the old-fashioned cut-and-paste.

So here’s the response I got from a guy with two first names. Since it was backward and I didn’t notice it was separated with a comma until later, I addressed it to his last name on accident. He’s got to be used to it, right?

I’ve received your e-mail you recently sent the agency regarding the outcome of your homeowners claim.  I am sorry to hear that you are dissatisfied with Allstate.  Unfortunately, insurance does not cover this type of incident.  Insurance is for accidental damage that occurs suddenly or within a short period of time.  Mold growth and damage caused by mold isn’t something that occurs suddenly.

 You have an excellent Allstate homeowners policy, one that is actually not sold to new customers any longer.  The renewal of your policy is “grandfathered” because you purchased it so long ago.  The most common types of covered losses or accidents are Fire, Smoke, Windstorm and Hail, Falling Objects, Vehicles, Vandalism, Burglary, Lightning, and Freezing of Plumbing.  The policy includes other types of financially devastating losses as well.  However, the definition of whether something is covered is not based on the tenure of the policy, previous claims history, or financial status.  If you’d like a complete copy of your insurance contract sent to you, let me know.

 Insurance policies sold by different companies will vary.  However, regardless of what insurance company you choose, coverage for damage done by mold is seldom included.  My hope is that you will continue to use Allstate for your insurance needs.  I truly do appreciate the business you have done with us. 


[Two First Names Guy]

Customer Relationship Manager

Hickman Agency, Inc.

Allstate Insurance Co.

Please note: Allstate may be sending you an e-mail survey. Your input is important to me.  I know your time is valuable and my hope is that you will complete the survey and be able to give me a score of 9-10 “completely satisfied.”  If you are unable to provide me with a 9-10 please contact my office to discuss how I can better improve my service.  Additionally, if at any time you would like a policy review, Please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for your business!

I did notice the irony that he’s offering a policy review, something we’ve been trying to get for months. Nice email, but a few inconsistencies. We’d called about the water damage. The next email is my response.

The mold was light, sparse, and easy to remove. It’s a non-issue, and it’s gone. The water damage was none of those things. We are still dealing with the repairs and unexpected costs incurred. I would like a copy of the policy, as was already promised and not delivered, and I would like to know what features were “grandfathered” in. I have spent the last 4 days researching other companies and speaking with representatives. I have even found savings through State Farm and other companies. I am on the cusp of making a decision, and I will weigh any data you send.

Okay, that was me when I wasn’t tired or cranky from spending way too many hours doing crap I didn’t want to do. Here’s what I sent at 10:10 pm (and for me, that’s staying up extra late.)

Let me reiterate: the damage is from WATER from a leaky dishwasher hose, NOT mold. We said this to your rep, but it appears they leapt for a non-issue to get out of delivering on much-needed help. In 15 years, we’re taken care of all other issues ourselves. We reached out to insurance only when we became desperate, and that’s when Allstate decided to screw us over. They were NOT there when we most needed them. (And I’ve seen mold spring up overnight. Given the way the hose leaked when the repair person tested it, the leak could have been less than a week old.) An investigation was not conducted, but a snap decision was issued. We have photos of the damage that nobody wanted to see. This is not the way a reputable company conducts business. I am not happy at all with the unprofessional handling of this case.

That’s me being very mean. If you listen closely, you can hear the snarky side of my “teacher voice” coming through. Today, we got a call. They’re sending someone out to assess the damage. Oh–the person on the phone was very courteous, but she asked why we waited two weeks to file a claim. We didn’t wait two weeks. We waited a week because we tried to dry it out and fix it ourselves. And because Wife didn’t want to deal with the insurance company. She asked the size and number of fans and heat lamps, and how long did we leave them on?  I said: A week.

So tomorrow someone actually visits. We have the invoice from the dishwasher repair person, photos he took, photos I took, and all the damaged wood, cabinets, subfloor, and drywall. Good thing they called before trash day–tomorrow! The only problem? Since they denied the claim, we went ahead with repairs. The floor is almost finished. The cabinets have been stripped so they can be sanded and refinished. The countertop hasn’t fared so well during construction, but we’ve replaced those before. Besides, I hate what we currently have. It might have wowed people in 1987, but so did the fact that I had long, naturally curly hair.

They made no promises, and neither did I. I’ll let you know how it goes and whether I change insurance companies.

In the midst of all this, I’m working on final edits and formatting for Master Eddie’s Sub. And if you haven’t picked up Kiss Me By Moonlight, you are missing out!



Know Thy Insurance

This is the spring of crap happening. Twin #1 has issues with her hips and knees, so she’s in physical therapy and her swim season is shot. Twin #2 has anxiety issues that, among other things, nearly made her quit dive–a sport she loves. Work is over and summer vacation is here, so I was looking forward to some time to focus on writing

You can see some of the water damage on the subfloor. We scraped the mold and bleached the wood.
You can see some of the water damage on the subfloor. We scraped the mold and bleached the wood.

and running Lost Goddess Publishing. Except last weekend, while preparing for our subdivision’s annual garage sale, I found that part of the basement ceiling had come down. It’s a finished basement, with a walkout in the back of the house that leads directly to the beach. When the mountains of snow melted and the water level rose, I worried we might have to sandbag the valley to prevent water from getting into the basement. But that didn’t happen–thank goodness.

Two cabinets removed. Subfloor removed. Hardwood pulled back to find damage. Fan for drying.
Two cabinets removed. Subfloor removed. Hardwood pulled back to find damage. Fan for drying.

As I investigated why the ceiling would fall, I poked at the place where it had come down. It was wet. We tore down the ceiling to find the leak,  narrowing it to the kitchen. Pulling out the dishwasher revealed soaked plywood. The people who had the house before us had put down hardwood, but they hadn’t continued it under the cabinets. We called service on the dishwasher. The hose has holes in it. The thing is only 4 years old. I’ve gone off on LG products before on Facebook. (My mother gifted me with a TV and Blu-ray player. The TV sporadically cannot find the Blu-ray player even though it’s hard wired into it, and we’d been watching the movie for 20 minutes.) This dishwasher never cleaned dishes all that well, and so I’m definitely never buying another LG product again.

Anyway, the dishwasher repair person is going to fix the hose. Meanwhile, Allstate has denied our claim. We found damage to

We used to have beautiful hardwood floors...
We used to have beautiful hardwood floors…

the flooring under the wood, the subfloor under that, black mold, damage to three cabinets around where the dishwasher was, damage to the wall behind it, damage to the drywall ceiling in the basement, and damage to the wood floor on the other side of the cabinets (technically the dining room). When we went to make a claim, we found out that Allstate doesn’t cover slow leaks, though my aunt has informed me that they did similar repairs for her. Her claim involved a potted plant with a crack. They replaced her carpet, padding, and matched the hardwood underneath. I’m not happy at all with my experience. We’ve been with Allstate for auto and home for 15 years. In that time, we’ve made no claims, and now when we need help (I’ve taken a 20% pay cut in my day job and book sales aren’t making up the difference), we get nothing.

Beware of the details. My policy said they covered water damage from appliances. They mean sudden problems, not slow ones that sneak up on you and cause tons of damage in places you don’t see. We pull out the appliances every summer to clean behind them, so the leak might be up to a year old. Don’t believe the commercials, ask lots of “what if” questions, and know your policy! Your agent might get sick of you, but at least you won’t find yourself alone in dealing with this.

I have more pictures from before we’d pulled out so much of the damage–including pix of the basement–that I’ll post later.