CYBERLOG 2008-2009

HOME INSURANCE IS NOT HOME ASSURANCE!

BEWARE. SAY THE (UNDETECTABLE) HOMELESS….

This Cyberlog focuses on what amounts to a con game by Home Insurance companies.  Losing one’s home because of a promise by a Home Insurance company which becomes a betrayal should be a felony.  It isn’t; it’s acceptable practice and done every day.  Not only do you not have any protection from hazards, you have no recourse at all if the company ruins your credit report/score (and FICO score) so that no other company will insure your home.  If you have a mortgage, you MUST have home insurance!  (Find me a company which doesn’t do this and I’ll pass it along to the public!)

 

 

Donna’s story is typical.  I met her in a mall where she was spending the day roaming through stores, eating cheaply in the food court, and reading comfortably on a large padded bench.  I noticed her because she had tears dripping down her cheeks.  I sat down beside her and asked if I could help her in some way.  She didn’t mind talking.  I listen well.  I found out that she came to the mall almost every day and kept moving from one large section to another.  She looked like an “empty-nester,” with a book and a dog’s leash wrapped around her purse handle as if she just left the animal alone at home for awhile.  No dog, though.  Just a hint of a scenario.  Her belongings are in a 10-year-old RV, parked during the day in the free lot, and at night (where she sleeps) on a nearby street where construction is ongoing and her vehicle doesn’t stand out.

 

            “…I lived in that house for over 30 years, paying what?...many   thousands of dollars for what I assumed was protection from fire,  storms, theft, whatever.  The company certainly expected every penny on time every year, and I paid….I had a few times when I had to cry over the deductible, and when it was over the deductible but not so much so, I decided to pay myself and avoid putting in a claim.  I figure I made the company very rich along with other homeowners who never got any money for damages….Along came the edge of a hurricane, and big trees fell on my roof and smashed it into the attic,    the part over the kitchen which had bad ceiling damage, so I couldn’t  use it until the company paid for repairs….After I made the claim, two representatives of the company came to the house and took all of the information.  It was similar to others’ houses in the area.  We all had damages from the storm….Weeks later, I got a letter from the insurance company saying they had determined that they were not    expected to pay because I had an old roof and it was my fault that             the thing broke apart.  It wasn’t THAT old!

 

             I took out a loan on my house and paid for the repairs myself.  And then I tried to get another insurance company….The insurance company put the claim on my credit report and I couldn’t find a company which would give me any insurance because of the claim….I tried to get a lawyer to sue for me, but none would since they all said it was just usual practice….When another storm occurred, I put in a claim again for a broken chimney and water running through the living room, and got the same type of   answer: we don’t insure against water damage because, uh, well, I don’t remember the exact reason, but they said they only paid for water damage in another way.  So, I couldn’t get another loan, and then I was late for months on the mortgage payments.  My Social Security wasn’t enough to keep on going, so I was forced to practically give my house away….I couldn’t believe it!  My life wasn’t    meant to end like this, in a big car and living like a transient with no  address and no money to even travel to a better place….I was lucky    enough to have this old RV in a garage.  My husband hadn’t driven it for two years before he died, and I just sort of moved my things into it….I spend all of my money on gas, food, and a once-a-week stay in a motel so I can dye my hair, take a good shower, and relax in a place without walls touching me on all sides….

 

            You asked why I didn’t move to an apartment or something that I probably could afford.  But I did try an apartment.  I practically had a  nervous breakdown from losing my home, and the neighbors complained that I kept crying and it bothered them.  Sure.  I was very depressed, and I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t hold myself together. I just had to be alone without having to deal with anyone….I figured it out.  I spent over 30 thousand dollars to insure my house.  Isn’t that enough to be depressed?

 

            I have a daughter who lives several states away, and I did visit her for awhile.  Her husband doesn’t really like me and it came down to me leaving or her marriage.  I couldn’t be responsible for her marriage breaking up….Age and pain don’t provide for work – I have   a back problem and can’t stand up for long, so I couldn’t find anything that I could do.  I can make a few dollars a week mentoring kids who can’t read, but these days you have to belong to some company which hires you out.  I tried the schools, but they want volunteers….I was a teacher – K through 6 – but it was so long ago that I’m not up to date on teaching methods.  Anyway, I’m too depressed to help anyone….

 

            OK.  I hear you.  I’ll look into ads for sharing a house with some lady who feels like I do.  If she can stand me crying, maybe we could find something to do, like a small business which we have talents for….I never thought of using my music background.  If you hadn’t mentioned music, I wouldn’t have remembered that I used to play in a small orchestra.  Do they really have those these days?  I only hear modern noise music.  But It was so long ago, and I sold the violin.  I guess I could buy a cheap one somewhere….I think I feel like a dessert now.  How about the Cookie Place?”

 

 

Dan is not at Social Security age yet, but he’s getting close.  I went to a church function just to see what they were serving, foodwise.  I was scouting for a couple of women who would go to the service every week if they served more than pretzels and chips with dips.  Dan was making little sandwiches out of something that is supposed to be soft cheese and bread that he had in a backpack.  I kept peeking until I could see more of what was in the backpack, and he had some clothing and half a loaf of bread, a jar of pickles, packaged jam, and an almost empty jar of peanut butter.  I made small talk as he made sandwiches, and when the service and food were finished, I followed him discreetly to a nearby parking lot.  His “truck” is odd, and I passed him on my way to a Wal Mart.  I waved “hello” and kept on going,  He was still there after half an hour, so I went by him again.  This time I asked if he was on holiday.  He wasn’t very friendly by then, so I went back to my car and drove it to an aisle away from him.  I bought some small necessities in Wal Mart and went by him on my way to my car.  He looked at me in a peculiar way and as I got close, he asked if I was following him!  I think he meant in “another way,” but I pretended that it was a joke, and responded that I was just having a day of having nothing to do.  He nodded.  He asked if I had cigarettes, and I answered “No; I don’t smoke.”  He then sort of rambled on and on about giving up smoking, and then said he had to give up just about everything.  My opening for beginning a conversation – and finding out his story!

 

 

           

 

            “…I used to live around here.  My old house was just around a   couple of corners.  It was torn down for a McMansion a few years after I moved out.  A shame, since all of the other houses are   ranchers….We have had some bad lightning storms around here, and one set my house on fire.  I expected that my insurance company would pay for repairs, but those crooks found a loophole    and didn’t have to pay a dime….I tried to have it fixed just enough so   I could live in it, but the city said it was uninhabitable and finally just took it from me.  My mortgage company was as helpful as a blind horse at a jump course….A neighbor had this van in his backyard  filled with tools from his old job, and gave me a good deal.  I moved      what I could into it and it’s been home for about 3 three years….The only plus in all of this is that I do get to travel a bit now.  I love to hike and hunt.  Every once in awhile I think about going hunting for something else, in an insurance company office.  I’d like a head or two….

 

            What’s the deal with insurance companies?  Aren’t they ever responsible for ANYTHING?  What I paid for insurance over the years could have been a huge down payment on a beautiful condo in Florida!  And no one can ever beat them at their game of protection.    When I tried to get insurance after the fire, getting no money from them, they had the nerve to tell the three credit companies that I made a claim even though they never paid for one.  I never found another insurance company….I guess I know the answer.  It’s the politicians in Washington that make sure that the insurance companies can do anything they want to.  Must be some big money passed around, probably by the lobby for insurance companies….”

 

I’ve heard stories like this for years, but I never actually focused on the problem of how insurance companies can not just be responsible for losing one’s home, but make sure you can’t get another one with a mortgage.  The only way to beat them is to buy a house outright and not have to purchase with a mortgage.  No protection either way, but you don’t have to pay for years to a company which always has an “out clause.”  I notice that every year my own insurance company says they can halt my insurance any time they choose to.  That means I and everyone else is at the mercy of big-time corporations which have lobby-force in D.C.  One woman told me years ago that they did pay her something after a hurricane: the use of a big fan for a few days to “dry out” her attic.  It did nothing, of course, but they made a gesture of obligation.  Her house had to be destroyed and she ended up living in an RV.

 

ON SHELTER, SHARING, AND SELLING

IF YOU HAVE COMMENTARY ON THIS OR OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO HOMELESSNESS, DO EMAIL ME!  MORE UPCOMING STORIES ON OTHER CAUSES OF AND SOLUTIONS TO UNNECESSARY HOMELESSNESS….  islandr@goeaston.net

 

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