Thursday, June 9, 2005

Flood insurance and Isabel

During Hurricane Isabel in the fall of 2003, my house was one of those damaged by flooding in Baltimore City. (My house was one of those shown on the news, because I was a block away from dry land, and a block away from the harbor.)

The claims process started out OK, but since turned into a nightmare. Both the contractor and the adjuster have tried to screw us. Apparently this is not uncommon. The only thing helping us is that both Jamie and I worked for an insurance company, and Jamie has a number of contractors she call call for advice.

The adjuster respponded quickly, and presented what appeared to be a fair estimate at the time. The Contractor also appeared to be a lifesaver.

Since then, the contractor has billed us for work that they didn't do. They also sent our bill to a collection agency when we were still disputing the amount. They also refused to send an itemised bill (I guess to ensure they could bill for the work not completed, who knows). The adjuster's estimate did not include profit and overhead, which is apparently not included if they think you are doing the work yourself (or not doing it at all). Of course, that's rediculous, since the cost of the repair is the cost of the repair by a contractor... if you choose to not have the work done or do it yourself, that doesn't change the value of the loss.

The best part, of course, is that I can't make a choice regarding flood coverage, because it's a government run program - so I have to keep sending my money to the same people who cant get it right.
Alfred W. Redmer Jr., the Maryland insurance commissioner, testified before Congress in April that one problem was that adjusters had calculated repair costs by using pricing data that did not reflect the true costs of building materials. He also said there was "a shortage of trained adjusters and a confusing and complicated bureaucracy that is difficult for the average consumer to navigate."

What a suprise, a confusing and complicated bureaucracy.

I think we are coming down the home stretch with it all, though... and I don't think we'll have to sue. It's just a good thing we are in a position where we didn't need the money right away.

No comments: