Six weeks ago my home was flooded by a broken refrigerator pipe two apartments above mine. Luckily our coop building requires a generous insurance policy so while we stepped on our hardwood floors to discover small squirting fountains, we tried to appease ourselves by reminding ourselves this is exactly why we have the insurance.
From day one, the Type A in me kicked in, documenting phone calls and emails, crossing our t’s, dotting our i’s and every other due diligence cliche. Step one was the insurance-issued adjuster coming to do an audit and provide an estimate for damage lost. We got Linda, who arrived nervously and began to stutter when I asked why they wouldn’t pay for the other half of the kitchen. She gave us an unsatisfactory estimate, and I immediately requested an appeal but our Claim Representative, Jeffrey in Texas tried to assuage us by saying it was just an estimate and surely we’ll work it out when we get the estimate from our contractors.
Her assessment suggested we redo half our kitchen. This is not what the policy states. It says it will return to before flood conditions, which a mismatched kitchen is not. This has been my hot button issue from the beginning. They agreed to fairly compensate us for the floors, but the kitchen was a half deal. Linda said we could fill out an appeal Jeffrey said, “Don’t worry about an appeal. We’ll work it out.”
We sent estimates for the cabinets and the labor. We waited one day, two days, three days and we followed up with Jeffrey. He called us back and said he needed to review the material we sent. Fast forward six weeks later, after many messages and he said the estimate was not approved and he sent a template email with an audit form attached for an appeal.
Steam erupted from my ears and the top of my head. We were back to square one as I had predicted on day one.
This entire time we have been living with no kitchen and no floors; two kids, three cats.
We’ve been going out to eat every day, and this is the only thing Jeffrey from Texas has been good with reimbursing (if two weeks is good). In the six weeks, a family of four eating three meals out a day, we will eat way more than the cost of the cabinets and yet they are still pushing paper or pencils, but all the while, avoiding us.
The entire process has been arduous and painful. We’ve had to follow up day after day and wait to hear and then we get automated emails with no explanation.
Jeffrey from Texas wouldn’t last one day in a corporate job in New York City. Every email I sent was accompanied by an introduction letter with an outline as to what followed. Every conversation we had, he began with, “Well, let me take a look here…” and would only open the email for the first time, a week or so after I sent it. He then immediately would say, “Well let me look into this,” and we’d never hear from him again until we followed up. I’m not sure if they earn bonuses for how long they delay paying us what we deserve but closure is his antithesis.
In terms of the regular things we lost (pantry items, cookware, etc.), we submitted a detailed list of 25 items, including where we bought them, item number, cost and age of the product. I sent this comprehensive document, with photos, five weeks ago. When Stacey, the lovely rep, called me, we chatted empathetically for 45 minutes, and she promised she would get back to me in “three weeks max but because your list is so short, it will definitely be shorter.”
Five weeks and I didn’t hear from Stacey so I followed up. It was only at this time when she began exploring the list and asking follow-up questions. We asked “How long do we wait for reimbursement now?: She said, “I should have more information in about a week,” at which point we’ll be at two months after the incident.
We need to have our entire 2,000 square foot apartment packed up and put into storage and then re-delivered so they can install the floors. We had a moving company come to give an estimate on this and I sent it into Jeffrey immediately and a week later it’s still in State Farm cyberspace, along with my dozens of emails and voicemails.
In our last conversation with Jeffrey, he reversed on everything he had previously said, denying he ever said anything about covering cabinet costs or telling us we wouldn’t need an appeal. It was like we started all over with him every time we got on the phone. After 6 weeks, we demand a supervisor call us back.
It took four days for him to call us back because apparently, he was out of town.
When the supervisor, Dennis, finally called, he apologized profusely and promised to assign a new agent to the claim. He promised he would take care of us and he also noted how we sustained the kind of damage where we should have had access to a hotel the whole time. Note: we’ve been asking Jeffrey for a hotel this entire time and his answer was, “we can discuss that.”
Dennis promised he’d call back before the end of the day with the name of a new agent and some sort of action. He felt terrible that our case had been handled “by too many hands.” He volunteered that our case was considered “a flood case to be treated the same as if a tornado had hit our house.” The day ended with no phone call or email. Thanks, StateFarm. No problem nickel and diming us yet you have millions of dollars of commercials playing on the radio and TV daily reminding me about your false promise: “Here to help life go right.”
We’re doing our part. We are managing them and staying on top of them and organizing all of the things. We went to five different cabinet places to find a reasonably priced one. We met with seven contractors to find the best price.
Everything is on hold, in limbo. We can’t move forward because we can’t officially hire a contractor and we don’t have money to buy everything necessary to fix our home.
Do you know what there’s no compensation for?
- All the driving back-and-forth that we have to do to go to Home Depot, Lowe’s, cabinet places everywhere.
- All the time we spent meeting with seven different contractors to get the best rates.
- The time we wasted looking for a matching floor because ours was installed five years ago and now discontinued.
- The filth that we have to live with for months now, while they comfortably ignore their jobs.
- The mental anguish that slowly builds up in living in the filth.
- Our cats eating all the filth and puking it up on our temporary paper floor.
- All the eating out is time-consuming and less healthy, taking a physical toll on our bodies.
- Relationship stress.
- Kids can’t study as well because we’re living out of boxes with no floors or kitchen.
- My husband and I both work from home and have had to spend almost two months rearranging furniture and supplies and taking up hours to deal with insurance companies. Time is money and we’ll never fully be compensated for the mental anguish and time we lost.
Only the commercials seem to understand the insurance companies’ purpose; when catastrophe strikes, you need an ally on the outside who knows what you need to get back on your feet. Unfortunately, the insurance companies continually prove their promise ends the minute you sign the premium check.