a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Insurance Part 2

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Insurance Part 2

SUMMARY: Looks like things will turn out as OK as they can under the circumstances.

Following up on my previous post, I must say that my homeowner's insurance company (Traveler's) has been quite responsive and without giving me any grief about my issues and requests.

When I finally understood how the claim worked, I asked to resubmit the claim differently, and I just got a call that it's OK to do so.

Here's the story, if you want it:

  • My deductible is $1000.

  • When the agent sat down and added everything up, the total loss came to a bit over $2800. [Sigh--so much!]

  • So I'd get a check for $1800, right? Nope.

  • The fine print says that, if the claim is over $2500, they give me the depreciated value up front (minus deductible), and then I have 6 months where, as I replace things, they give me a check for the difference between depreciated value and replacement value until we reach the full $1800.

  • The depreciated total value is about $1600--actually they were generous with this amount, which was nice on the face of it. So, subtract $1000 deductible, they sent me a check for $600ish. [Follow along: $1000 deductible +$600 given me so far +$1200 they haven't sent me yet]

  • They estimated my replacement cost for my camera at around $550 and its depreciated value around $400.

  • So, if I go out and buy a camera at $550, do I get a check for another $550 of the unpaid $1200? No. I get a check for $150. ($550-400)

  • Likewise, one lens replacement around $350 and depreciated around $200. If I buy a new one for $350, I get another $150. ($350-200)

  • So now I've spent $950 and received $900 ($600+$150+150). $50 out of my pocket so far, and they still "owe" me $900.

  • How do I get the rest of that $900? Answer: I have to buy replacements for EVERYTHING ON THE LIST--which would cost approximately my deductible ($1000) plus $900--that's the definition of their replacement costs--to get $900 back. In other words, $1000 out of my pocket.

  • And, guess what--I don't have $1000 available! Which means I'd never get the rest of that $900 back.

So--I can see where this makes sense if you're talking about one large thing--like maybe--uh--I dunno, your back porch was torn off by a tornado and it costs $2800 to replace it. Well, since you can't go out your back door without your porch, you'll probably be spending that $2800. But to lump a whole bunch of small things together--argh.

But as much as I'd *like* to replace everything I lost, there's no way that I can afford to. I'll have to pick and choose. And if I can't get more of the settlement, then I'd be able to pick and choose almost nothing at all.

Sooo... I asked to resubmit the claim, removing one lens from the claim, which brings the total loss under $2500, so they can send me a check for the full--well--$1500 now, not $1800. But that's better than only $900 or so.

OK, sorry, it's complicated. That's why I didn't quite get it when she explained it on the phone. Got the papers she sent, thought about it, and called back to clarify things.

And so that phone call just now saying it's OK to do it and I'll get a check for the whole $1500ish is such a relief. Although it means I'm "giving up" $300 in claims, still, that means that I don't have to spend $1000 out of my pocket to get any more back. And I'm thankful that they didn't make this hard for me to do. Sigh. Now I'm really glad that the loss wasn't a lot higher, because I'd never have been able to make up the difference.

Guess I have to rethink the high deductible. It makes sense for *building* loss--but for personal property... ugh.


  1. Well, I guess then that I'm both happy and sad for you.

    I'm assuming that the theft-y bits from the car are under an "umbrella" policy to pick up such things? Maybe you can get with "your insurance guy" to talk about re-working your policy to have different deductibles for different things (like a low deductible for theft replacements and higher deductibles for damage to the house and stupendously high deductibles for if your renter falls down the stairs on his head). It could be that your current plan is the best deal, but you won't know till you ask. :-)

  2. Wow! How does the average person even hope to understand this stuff? It sure seems stacked in the insurance company's benefit. Which I guess makes sense from their point of view. Glad you figured it out, and are as ahead of the game as you can be. Also glad you get to replace the camera because I know you probably miss it!

  3. glad you get it, because I sure don't!!!

  4. You might want to think about scheduling individual items of expensive equipment. That way you get replacement cost, although still less the deductible. I have a lot of camera equipment and my wife has a few saddles protected that way. The premiums add up so it's important to make sure you're only insuring items that might actually be lost or damaged.

  5. Thanks for the suggestions on the insurance, you guys. I'll look into it.