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When a house fire occurred at our home, the Farmers insurance company relocated us to a hotel. Then a meeting was set up with an out of state adjuster, our agent and us. At the meeting, where we were obviously in the "courtship" phase we were taken to a nice restaurant for lunch. But before the meal ended, the out of state agent began to grow more and more terse, openly stating the limits he'd go on our "large fire loss," which proved to be approx. $250,000.
We were given a packet of fire loss information, and informed that by law we could hire a Public Adjustor (nicknamed ambulance chaser with a chuckle from the out of state Farmers adjustr) and did not have to have the out of state Farmers adjuster. The packet included a list of the PA's clients. We called them, and the complaints from clients concerned a variety of insurance companies. The one which was incredible to me was a house fire to large home in which the insured's were offered $245,000 by Farmers for a $619,000 loss. This was just one scenario, in which Farmers would pocket the additional monies over the $245,000 in the policy needed by the homeowner for his loss. Others told of Farmers pocketing or trying to rip off insureds for varying amounts but usually $100,000 and up.
One Farmers trick is to say the insureds are guilty of arson. I interviewed at least two who had this played on them. One man had a rental that caught fire when he was at work and he was accused of arson. He had to hire attorneys etc and was cleared. If one is ever cleared of suspicion in documents or reports. The PA openly told at a meeting with contractors of a man he represented who was cleared and he thinks he was probably guilty! Right now in our area this has been played on a couple who are charged with arson, and are living in a tent in their back yard because they are told they have no right to claim living expenses. To get them into a hotel, their innocence must be proven through a lengthy investigation.
One unscrupulous Farmers Insurance practice is for the agent to offer his insureds a policy in either a lower economy premium amount or a higher amount. No other policy is offered. Thinking you are protecting yourself responsibly, you take the higher policy in the higher amount, such as 184,000 for the structure, and 128,000 for the content. What is not foreseen is that when disaster occurrs the agent discloses that the fine print reads you must be insured 100 % loan to value or you do not qualify for an additional 25 % which is crucial if your home needs to be rebuilt due to damage, because contractors don't work for free. You learn that you as insureds have liability for interior of walls and beams covered with sooty acidic stained beams which give forth fire odor when the home is warmed, or weather is damp. The only way to remove this smell is to gut the entire house, and this doesn't happen for this policy amount, without the additional 25 %. When you try to file your claim, you are told "I'm sorry but this is all the coverage you have." You cannot locate a contractor who will touch the case. They think it's a joke! Your structure cannot be rebuilt for that amount. Then the adjuster or agent play real estate agents circling like buzzards picking the victims bones to force you to "sell" your property to a builder. You have few options or alternatives at this point.
Repair with like kind and materials has it's limitations to your policy amount. We had an older home with lathe and plaster. When we got to finer points of our loss on this home over 100 years old, they wanted to replace original light fixtures with cheap new ones. Do they sell your originals to salvage yards for $$$?
While the PA states he now has our situation under control and the home will be rebuilt, it hasn't started yet. We feel ripped off that we were forced to hire a PA who charged 10% on the structure and even added charges of 10% of the fire damage cleaning peoples fees, so we owe him nearly $30,000 for his services. But there was no other way to recover the damages to make our home livable and be able to free ourselves of liability when we sell the home.
5214 South 2nd Avenue
Everett, Wa 98203-4113
Copied from InsuranceJournal Post
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