SO TELL ME … WHY DO WE PAY FOR HOME INSURANCE? – Marilyn Armstrong

We’ve lived in this house for just under 20 years.

When we moved in, we put up all new vinyl siding, tore off the old roof and put up a new one. We installed fencing around the property. We got rid of the beaten up sliding doors that went from the dining room to deck with French doors, replaced the front door (the first time). In total, it was about $30,000 worth of work. Then there were appliances like washer, drying, refrigerator, stove. And of course, the water heater popped. Eight years later (that’s about the longest a water heater lasts), it popped again and we replaced it again. We had to replace the water heater again this year, too.

The newly refinished deck — which is also why there are no birds. It was time to take in the feeders until the fall. I miss my birds!

As for the water pump in the well (it’s almost 500 feet underground), the lightning loves it. It’s the combination of iron and water — a magnet for electric. We replaced the output for the septic system and all the pipes that ran to it because the people who had lived here rolled over them with a truck and crushed them.

French doors in the dining room
New front door!

We added a sump and a pump and French drains so the basement would stop flooding. We had to rebuild the well because it was old and it needed it. We replaced most of the pipes in the house and redid the electricity twice (two new circuit boards, if you please).

This year, we replaced the bathroom which urgently needed it and all the plumbing from the upper floor to the basement (time turns copper piping into rust). We replaced the front door (again) and added a chair lift.

As much of the room as I could fit into the picture!

The chimney still needs repointing and the west wall of the house has been beaten by storm-after-storm since the end of the winter. This summer has been both the wettest and hottest on record.

Remember climate changes? Guess what? It’s not “on the way.” It’s here.

Despite being just on the edge of out of money, we nonetheless managed to get through each thing that had to be done. We consolidated our biggest credit cards which had been used to pay for these fixes. I was counting on at least one year of breathing easier. I was pretty sure the chimney would survive until spring unless a tree falls on it … and THAT is one of the things insurance covers.

I did not count on having one wall of the house turn into mush and mold. It was the wind-driven rain, falling trees, and branches. The gutters are so bent from being whacked by falling branches they no longer do anything useful.

This year, we ran out of money. It took 20 years, but the house got older and we got older. And then there was getting rid of the invasion of the field mice and the ants. Living in the woods is a mixed bag.

What’s astonishing is how your home insurance never covers ANYTHING. Except when lightning hit the pole in front of the house (that was a really LOUD noise!) and knocked out two computers and a router. Insurance paid for that. Otherwise, they have collected some very big money from us for a long time and never paid anything to us.

I think they owe us because it isn’t wear-and-tear. It’s storm, wind, and crashing tree limbs. But, we don’t get to make that decision. It’s entirely up to them. When lightning hit the well, they said it wasn’t part of the house so we had to pay for it. How could it not be part of the house? But, that’s what they said. They agreed it was lightning, but not their problem. OUR problem. As usual.

Apparently, the only way your well is covered is if it happens to be inside your house and wells are NOT inside anyone’s house.

We are out of money. We had a nest egg. It got eaten. Houses always need work. No matter how much you do — and we’ve done more than I’ve bothered to list — there’s always more. The windows were good when we got here, but they are old now. We replaced the horrible old rugs with fake wood floors, but it wasn’t installed well and it needs to be redone using better materials and a much better installer.

Home

Now, there are changes in the climate.  These will eventually affect everyone. Do you think insurance companies are going to cover climate change damage?

Would you like to put down a few bets on that one?

Insurance companies are not in business to cover you no matter what the advertisements say on television. They are in business to make money by NOT paying you while proving whatever happened, it’s your problem.

Basically, they cover three things: lightning that damages things IN your house (like having it burn down), falling trees, and fire. Everything else is “wear and tear.” With climate change beating up everyone’s house, there’s going to be a lot of damage — and it won’t be their job to fix it because they don’t fix. They collect.

House in summer

So maybe you understand when I say homelessness is not on my agenda, I’m too old and too sick. We are both too old and if we are unlucky enough to not get the Republicans out of office, it’s going to get worse. Remember:  Social Security and Medicare are insurance too — and if they decide to stop payments, we will all be in very deep shit.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

19 thoughts on “SO TELL ME … WHY DO WE PAY FOR HOME INSURANCE? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Ah, the joys of home ownership. Been there, done that, argued with the insurance company more than once. But during our October Surprise Storm a few years back, our kitchen roof started leaking, as did the roof on the main portion of the house. I just started laughing because I knew roofs, and the water damage caused when they fail, are covered by insurance. And I always hated that fake wood paneling in the kitchen anyway. Insurance wound up paying to have the roof repaired, the entire downstairs repainted (including removal of that ugly paneling), and due to extensive damage in the bathroom (upstairs), it needed to be gutted and redone (always wanted to do that, thank you Mother Nature). Since there were SO many claims after that storm, and so much publicity, the insurance company didn’t care to argue with everyone. AS a plus, having had all that work done, the house sold for more than it would have otherwise.

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  2. I have come to the conclusion that nearly all insurance companies will try to wriggle out of their commitments. You have to read the fine print to find out what you are not covered for. Anything that is not wear and tear will probably be called an “Act of God”. Building insurance is compulsory when you buy a house here, contents insurance is not.
    I have been living in this house for 17 years. It needs work, it needs a new roof but is not yet at the leaking stage. It needs weatherboards replaced but I hope they will last until I sell. We have replaced the hot water heater once and had it repaired twice I think. Why do they all last 8 years? We had about 3 at our previous house where we lived for 25 years. It does not seem worth it to do most of this work or put in a new wood heater as I would not get my money back when the house sells. If I was staying I’d probably do at least the roof and the wood heater. Still, for a house that’s about a hundred years old it’s not bad. I think yours suffers from weather related problems a lot more.

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  3. A nightmare. If they can wriggle out of paying in any way, they will. I can’t stand insurance companies – I’m sure they cash in on the fact that it’s a legal requirement to have some policies.

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  4. I’ve had a conversation with what’s left of my family (two siblings). Neither would be willing to take me in if things do go south (and it’s more when they go south, not IF), but neither has any decent solutions about what I should do to survive until my time is up either. I’ve told them I want to sell my home and move into an ‘assisted living’ apartment complex where there are people who are paid to watch out for the old people with physical problems. Maybe it’s the ‘independent living’ option that would better suit me. Both siblings looked at me as if I’d suddenly grown another head. “Sell? Why would you do that? Don’t you like it here (in my house)?’ I say of course I like it. I love it. But I cannot maintain it properly. If I stay here the day will come, just like in your case, when things are falling apart faster than I can afford to fix them AND if the dire news about that orange idiot and his cadre of fools happens, I really won’t be able to fix them. An elderly neighbor near me died (I wrote about it) and another elderly widow is moving out of her house. The heirs of the deceased woman want to sell. The elderly widow sold. Sold for twice what she paid. Right now is the time to strike the iron around here in order to get maximum price if selling. I’m still too young though. Won’t see 60 until next year. The powers that be don’t like youngsters (hahah) imposing on the independent or assisted living quarters…there are enough old enough folks doing that. I sincerely hope you find some solutions to your problems with your home. It’s a goddamned shame that you should have to worry about such things when you should be able to relax and gracefully age.

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    1. It’s depressing as hell. And yes, it’s becoming universal. Not enough money to live on, not enough money to fix what breaks. The price of food goes up 20% and I panic. But hey, they lowered my electric bill by $5!

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    1. Yup. Or, as the adjuster finally said, “they really don’t cover ANYTHING unless the house burns to the ground.” I’ll do the best I can for you. Now I have to figure out how to come up with about $5000 to fix a side of the house and right now, it might as well be a million.

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        1. I need to get someone here to look at the stuff and give me some estimates because honestly, I really don’t know. I also have some nice pieces of original art, but with one (small) exception, not famous people, but nice work. So what is it worth? Maybe I can call an agency and get someone to come and look at it. It’ much too much stuff to take somewhere, so someone would have to come to the house. If it is worth something, great but honestly, I really don’t know and I don’t even know enough to take a good guess. I know what I paid for it, but that was years ago. In some case, MANY years ago. A lot of values have changed.

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          1. When my mother left her house, there was a painting that none of us wanted. We took it to an auction house, where they estimated it to be worth $14K — it actually sold for $45K! You might try a couple of auction houses to value some of your treasures — particularly the old Chinese pieces might have surprising value.

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  5. Perfect post – I’ve been wondering the same – our home owners insurance has been useless but unfortunately they have us over a barrel. We live in both an earthquake and high fire area.

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  6. yep, this is our 3rd (and last!) house we own. With the other two we were OK but this one is one ongoing nightmare. Shoddy work, installers going out of business after one year and nobody has taken up their contracts, insurance never paying anything – we are not made to fight, as we are not French and you jolly well need to be a whizzard to get through their jungle of laws, bylaws and bye-bye-laws…. We should have rented and left when we wanted, years and years ago!

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