Our previous house was almost two hundred years old. It was a fixer-upper, albeit a small one, and we really never had any problems with it. At least none that every required us to use our home owners insurance. And as much as I wished one of the huge pine trees that surrounded our house would blow over during a wind storm and take out the kitchen, they never did. So for eight years we paid our insurance premiums and never filed a claim.
Then we bought our new old house and had our insurance through the same company. We closed on the house and moved in. I was 14 days away from giving birth to my daughter, so to say I was a bit emotional, over tired, and well, tired would not be an exaggeration. I got a phone call from our insurance company that they were dropping us. The reason? The assessor had driven by and said the house looked like it should be condemned and it was a “piece of junk.”
If I hadn’t been so pregnant and overwrought I might have laughed since this condemned house had just appraised for a boatload of money, certainly more than a piece of junk would cost. We were faxed a list of things that were found wrong with the house. Areas of peeling paint. Yes, I fully acknowledge that the house needed a paint job, but that is a reason to drop an insurance policy?
We ended up scrambling to find a painter to paint our house within the two week period the insurance company generously allowed. One who came, walked around the house and said to do the house right it, so it would look good up close would cost $30,000. I asked if how much it would cost to do it wrong and have it look good from across the street, while I squinted and hopped up and down on one foot. And that was the paint job we went with.
In the end we got to keep our home owners insurance, as required by our mortgage company. And we have dutifully paid it monthly asking nothing in return other than for it to be there should we ever need it, which knock on wood we hope not to.
The House and I posted about insurance:
But it goes to show: you never know where danger’s gonna come from.
You don’t. You don’t know. But the insurance companies sure as hell do. They have whole fleets of boring people whose job it is to run the numbers on just this sort of thing.
And so she has written a ten step proposal: How All of Us Can Live happily Without Costing Anybody Anything.
1. Wherever you live, it’s a danger. Move.
2. Take nothing with you. Your things are just a burden on us all.
3. When you get there, hunker down. Bad times are coming…
You’ll have to go to her blog to read the rest of the steps in her proposal. How often can you laugh about insurance? And I don’t mean in that hysterical I am having a breakdown sort of way.
Teresa at Blog By The Sea has an excellent post up about re-homemaking after a disaster.
I thought it might be helpful to some people if I would share some thoughts about rebuilding, shopping to replace items, and accepting help from others after a catastrophic disaster loss. These are based on my experience after the Oakland Hills Fire and the experience of other people I knew. This is not a post about surviving, but rather an honest post for people who have replacement cost insurance. It is about about things like negotiating with your carrier, replacing lost collections, and buying new furniture
She also offers some suggestions for gifts if you know people who have just been through a catastrophic disaster.
Our very own Grace Davis has posted an Evacuation List of things you should take with you should you need to evacuate your home in a disaster situation. It is a great list and the comments left by other people might give you some ideas also. I am not overly attached to anything in my house, other than my laptop and photos. And of course my children I’d make sure to bring them with me.
I never would have thought of photographing my house for insurance purposes. Nor would I have thought to grab bills or the checkbook. No, I would be the one with a van full of Legos my children couldn’t leave behind and an odd assortment of snack foods I grabbed on the way out the door after scratching my head and walking around in circles for as long as was possible.
Lists like the one Grace posted are what I need to really think about the things that I would need to have with me.