One of our insurance competitors runs very funny commercials that involve funny claims they have paid out throughout history. I really like these commercials because they remind people that no one can predict when they will need to use their insurance. You buy insurance for the times that you have problems that are crazy and have huge expenses you didn’t anticipate.
Like the time one mild December afternoon when my Dad got a call from my sister who had looked outside the window and saw a deer’s head sticking out of the pool cover. Apparently it had run across the top and fell through- ran furiously around below- ripping up the liner- since it had been drained for winter and had busted up all the concrete- before finding a way to pop it’s head back through another weak spot in the shallow end. My dad and the DNR warden got to the house at the same time and were able to open what was left of the pool cover and it shot out of the pool like a missile. But not before doing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the pool, which was thankfully covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy. (Yes, it happened- you can read the newspaper article about it here.)
Thinking of these crazy stories made me think of our last crazy year and I thought with it being the first week of 2018, I would write
a blog about some of our more interesting claims from 2017. Because truly- the amount of times our office has heard people say “I didn’t know my insurance covered that!” was astounding.
We’ve had our share of fender benders and windshield claims for sure. My own family (our daughter, son in law, and sister) were a few of them. For most people- what you need to remember about windshield claims are that if you have small chips- call your insurance agent right away so that you can get them filled (usually free) before they spread. This is especially helpful if you have a large comprehensive deductible.
We had three car thefts in 2017. One in Adams County, one in Milwaukee County, and one in Waukesha County, so they were spread out. Three pieces of information we can teach you from car theft claims:
- If someone steals your car out of your driveway and crashes through your retaining wall, hits the basketball hoop down, and generally causes a bunch of damage to your “home”- you will have two claims and two deductibles- one on your auto policy and the other on your home policy.
- If you have valuable items in your car (like a purse, nice set of golf clubs, amazing camera equipment and laptop, etc) and your car is stolen- you cannot make a claim for your property on your auto policy. You would have to make a claim for your property on your home/condo/renters policy. If you rent where you live- and don’t have renter’s insurance- this is one more reason to have renters insurance!
- It can take up to 28 days for a police department to officially clear your auto as being un-recoverable (unless of course it is recovered before then). Until your car is deemed unrecoverable, the insurance company cannot pay for a new car. This means that you could be without wheels for up to 28 days. If you have rental reimbursement coverage on your auto, then you will be reimbursed for a rental car- but a lot of people skip this to save money. Check your coverage!
A few months ago, one of our insured experienced what had to be one of the most ultimate in privacy violations- a home robbery. Thankfully- she was not there at the time, but her boyfriend was. Her door was kicked in and broken and some of her property was stolen.
Her homeowners insurance (as would condo/renters insurance policies) protected her.
We have many pets in our customer family. (We have one customer who has over 10 animals, including a pet pig- and doesn’t even live on a farm!) Sometimes our pets, like our children, do things that can get us humans into a little trouble. With the right insurance coverage- we can luckily breathe a little easier.
One of our customers’ doggie may have gotten a little aggressive with a delivery driver who ignored the instruction signs and used the back door to the house instead of the front door to deliver a package. Another doggie played a little too rough with a friend’s doggie and put the friend’s doggie in the hospital for a few days. In both cases the insured’s homeowners and condo insurance’s “family liability” stepped in. Note: There is that same “liability” coverage on renter insurance policies too!
This past summer, a customer of ours, who also happens to be some friends of ours, texted us at 9:30pm in a panic. They had 6 inches of water standing in their basement. The basement where one of their kid’s bedroom was. The power had gone out and the sump pump had failed. They had a wet vac- but couldn’t use it to suck the water out- because the power was still out. It was during those terrible storms when it seemed like it would never stop raining.
They were frantically asking- “do we have coverage for this?” because they knew- that not all homeowners policies have coverage for water backup.
The good news was that they did have coverage for water backup. We had upgraded their homeowner’s policy to include it. We were able to call a restoration team, who came right out that night and got the water out. They started cutting the drywall and started the process to make sure the mold was taken care of properly.
Water claims can add up fast. So in the end- they still had to pay a little out of pocket. They had chosen the “small” amount of water back-up on their home policy. After the experience they had- they called and did another upgrade and purchased the larger amount of water backup on their policy in case they ever have the same experience. They have now learned that it is pennies on the dollar!
And I can tell you one more piece of useful advice when it comes to water and your homeowner’s policy: Always have a battery backup on your sump pump. And test it annually!
Minimum Coverage vs. Expensive Car
Our second-to-last “claim to fame” for 2017 was when we had a younger boy who was driving his 2001 Chevy Blazer and went through a red light. He t-boned a brand new fully loaded Yukon Denali. Totaled the truck out. Thankfully- he was fine. The driver he hit was fine. It was just both cars that were toast.
Now since he was in his early 20’s and had an older car- he had minimum coverage and no comprehensive or collision. Without collision, he totaled his car and gets nothing from the insurance company for his car.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with state minimum auto limits- they are 25/50/10. This last number is the property damage liability number. This means that his auto policy will pay out up to $10,000 for any property damage that he causes in an accident. Since the Denali he his was totaled and ended up being like $46,000 Kelley Blue Book (ish)- his policy paid out $10,000. The owner of the Denali, being out $36,000- is likely going to file a lawsuit against this customer.
Note: In this situation- a percentage of your wages can be garnished until your debt is paid off- which means pretty much indefinitely. Also- increasing the amount of property damage liability on your policy is very inexpensive. Talk with your trusted advisor.
Home Fire- Exploding Pork Chops
I know this was from December, 2016- but it’s a good one, so I’m mentioning it as the last one. And yes- it is my sister’s kitchen fire- from the exploding pork chops.
What’s so good about the story is that the only thing that burned in her kitchen was the microwave above her stove. It melted. Oh sure- the cabinets on the left and right were a little charred. And fire extinguisher dust flew all around the kitchen. The knick knacks above the cabinets were a little blackened too.
But the smoke damage went all through her house and it ended up being over $50,000 worth of a claim. Imagine renting a home or an apartment and cooking pork chops and having one of them explode with grease and starting on fire. Then imagine having $50,000 worth of damage and not having renters insurance!
Do you know where your fire extinguishers are? (PS. Below the sink is a really bad spot for it).
I have to say- claims make an insurance agent’s job interesting; but I wouldn’t wish them on anyone, so please, please, please- make 2018 a safe one- both in your car and in your every-day life!