Monday, January 26, 2009

Claims Surcharge- heard of it?

I think it's important to let people know about this. We had a house fire two years ago, it's an old house & we had builders re-doing a bathroom. They kept the fan in the room running all day & when the breaker would kick off they kept turning it on. This caused some kind of overload in some old wiring and started a fire in the attic. We had been told all the wiring had been redone by the previous owners, so we had no idea. We were fortunate that the damage wasn't too extensive, and we felt that we had a good insurance company, Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Co. They were very good about getting our claim taken care of quickly so we could get the house repaired, our agent did an great job & made things easier for us when we were going through the aftermath of the fire.
Last Labor Day someone burnt down one of our barns, the one that held my husband's farm equipment. We believe we know who it was, but the insurance company declined to investigate, in all fairness there wasn't much to go on. They paid most of the cost to replace the equipment and paid for a new barn to be built.
We just got our new bill for home insurance, and there is an increase of $1,648, it's called a claims surcharge. Because of our claims the insurance company wants their money back, so this is how they're doing it now. I'm not sure about all of it, but from what we were told they will charge it until they recoup their money from our claims. You can google it, it's getting to be a common practice, on car insurance as well. Many are charging it if you make one claim.
Apparently they're no longer providing insurance, but just providing loans. They make a fortune off the people who never make claims and pay in their whole lives, but I think we're probably paying for the losses some of the companies have taken in the gulf areas in recent years. Or possibly it's just greed.
It's hard to understand why we're being punished when we've done nothing wrong. We've paid for our insurance all these years in good faith that we'd be covered if anything happened. We've taken every precaution; moved our woodstove outdoors, put good locks on the house & barns, added more smoke alarms than are even suggested, and we're putting up fences and gates just to be safe.
Anyway, you might want to check your policy and try to switch to a company that doesn't charge this. Once you have to place a claim (some don't charge until you have two or more) then it's probably too late to change because other companies don't want to take you. We're calling around, but so far other companies want to charge the same amount or more since we've had claims, but we're hoping to find an honest company.
If enough people cancel with companies that are starting this practice, and if enough people make complaints about it, it might be possible to put a stop to it.


Blogger tami said...

I have always said that insurance is legalized extortion. In our state I have to insure my house for REPLACEMENT cost even when they assess that at about 125,000 more than I could sell the house for.
My job is writing insurance policy management software. I see the tremendous amount of waste and overhead at insurance companies. It makes me just sick to think of all the people, me included, just trying to get by and faithfully paying their premiums only to be dinged when they make a claim. It seems like something there should be a law against, but the laws all favor the insurance companies.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

Sue, I think it is terrible, but it doesn't surprise me. A few years ago our freezer broke and we lost about $800.00 worth of food.
We contacted our insurance company, who we'd been with for over 30 years [without a claim]and were told whatever they paid us for our loss, our premium would be upped the same amount! Needless to say, we didn't make the claim.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Vicki said...

grrr, these stories of insurance rip offs make me so mad. My parents made three claims on their homeowners insurnace a few years ago. They were small things-wind tore off siding, broken window and something else. The total of those 3 claims were about $1,100. They got a letter , after 20 years of being with that company with mimimal claims, and were told they were cancelled. The company only allowed a 1,000 a year.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Short Fiction said...

This happened to us with renter's insurance with State Farm. When Jason's laptop was stolen they almost doubled our premium (from $15/month to $25/month). After three years the premiums went back down.

12:49 AM  

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