Words, Shmerds – Show me the Money Allstate

robot hands

“You’re in Good Hands”

This marketing slogan pretty much makes me want to puke, because we’re not in good hands, we’re in cold robotic hands that want to make money and don’t really care about the humans on either end of the transaction.

Granted, much of my rage is irrational. Shit happens, right? No one can really halt the hand of Zeus as he rolls the dice.

But there are things that can mitigate disaster, to make it slightly less lame. Like insurance, for example. Now, truth be told, it’s my responsibility to watch out for me and mine. Only a fool would leave their fate in the hands of some unfeeling corporate bureaucracy whose profit margin is undoubtedly more important than the actual well being of their customers.

But I was lured in, not once, but twice. Because I wasn’t paranoid. Because I was in a hurry to buy a house and admittedly a bit naive. I trusted that they actually gave a rat’s ass about my family’s interests.

When you file a house fire claim, the first thing you notice is how cordial the adjusters are on the phone. They’re people, and they’re in it with you, helping you to navigate the complexities and make the best of an unfortunate situation.

But in reality they’re just people doing a job. And they’re expendable. And they keep a distance between us and them, because deep down they know they’re working for some big money devouring gnasher, and if the going gets tough, they’ll always have the option of gettin’ gone.

Already in the process of our house claim, in less that six months, we’ve worked with five adjusters and two agents. During our short tenure, one of the adjusters was reassigned, and another retired. The one who retired didn’t mention anything to us, even though we were waiting a reply from him on a couple matters. Instead, my emails to him simply started bouncing back.

halSo why aren’t we in good hands? First of all, a robot has no feeling. They can try to program it to display attributes of feeling, but it’s still a robot.

Secondly, we trusted the agents that sold us the policy. You know those Progressive commercials where people are in what looks like a grocery store, picking policies off the shelf? Well that’s pretty much what’s it like in reality. The agent is just the outlet that sells the canned policies. For some this may be fine, but not for home policies. In our case, the agents didn’t ask us anything about our lifestyle. They didn’t know I’m a huge computer guy, and they didn’t know my wife is a huge jewelry girl. They sold us the off the shelf policy and were happy to take our business.

They knew we were planning to do a bunch of work on the house. Did they check on us after a year to help us increase our coverage? Nah. Did they remind us that the cost for new construction in Alaska is far above the amount of our policy? Nah. When I called five years later, a week after my house burned down, and asked them WHY we were so under insured, were they even able to find a copy of our original sale or notes on the transaction? No.

Had they done any of these things, our situation today would be much different. It wouldn’t have cost us much more than another $100/year to have doubled our dwelling coverage. And those computers and jewelry, well we only discovered two weeks ago that inside the grand policy limit there are individual limits. Here’s what they look like for the Allstate Deluxe policy:

allstate deluxe standard coverages

I had much more than $5000 worth of computers, and my wife had far more than $1000 in jewelry and furs. Most Alaskan hunters I know have more than $2000 in guns. So beware, those of you that think you have enough coverage, head on back to your agent and get a special endorsement for any items of significant value.

And lastly, the third reason why we feel like we’re not in good hands: the Contents List from Hell. At one point I said to our personal property adjuster: “I’m paying you for a service, and that service is $118,815 of personal property coverage. Well, my house burned up, with all our personal property, so now I need that service I’ve been paying you for. Why can’t you just write me a check?” Of course it isn’t that simple. In order to get the coverage we’ve been paying for, we have to nit, and pick, and jump through myriad hoops, and put values on priceless meaningful trinkets, and accept paltry sums for highly valuable items. Once we’ve listed *everything* we owned, then in order to get the money we have to go out and replace those items, first. Then we have to send in the receipts. Then they send us the check. If we want to get reimbursed for a can of beans that burned, we have to send them the receipt once we’ve bought that same can of beans again. That’s why it’s called “replacement” coverage. They’ll replace what we had, and they’re anal about it, as only a robot can be.

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