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File 3 claims and lose your insurance

I think most readers will agree that understanding a policy of insurance is like walking through a swamp on a moonless night with a blindfold. Poor (or no) communication from an insurer just exacerbates an already challenging situation. Such is the case for my grievance with State Farm Insurance Company.

As you know, insurance companies in this area got hit hard with the many damaging storms of 2009. As a result, each State Farm insured realized a rate increase to help underwrite State Farm’s greater than forecast losses. I had no damage but was forced to support State Farm’s recovery when they increased my premiums as well.

After paying premiums to State Farm for 23 years and never making a claim, they have recently cancelled my homeowners insurance because I did finally have to file several claims against my policy in the last two years. After having homeowners insurance for 49 years on three homes and never making a claim, I almost felt guilty about invoking the contractual protection in which I’ve invested for almost half a century. (Boy, if I only knew then what I know now ...)

We all pay premiums so that we’re protected in the event we need the coverage. I will say that State Farm is quick to pay claims (arguably, too quick to pay on at least one occasion). However, with no warning, information or communication as to the ramifications of filing my third claim, they’re also quick to send a letter canceling a policy for their insured having the audacity to expect what they paid for.

After all these years, I just happened to have a montage of things happen after my husband passed away in 2008. I needed a “Good Neighbor” but quickly became a number, a statistic and a risk to this insurance giant.

Each claim I filed was unavoidable, was an act of nature and due to no fault of my own. However, as I’ve recently been told, if you make three claims in three years, it’s three strikes and you are out (no matter the circumstances and even if they paid the claim or not)! This will cause people not to file for claims they are entitled to while State Farm continues to get the premiums.

To State Farm, a claim is a claim is a claim regardless of the facts, the amount paid, the customer’s history, etc. With this cancellation, I’m now forced to go from paying $750 per year for coverage to almost $2,000 per year to a company with which I have no history, have never paid a dime to, etc.

I have paid State Farm far more over the years than they have paid me. Why won’t they just seek to get their money back over the next 20 years? As a retired widow, I live on a fixed income and this increase in premium is devastating. If they would have told me that they would cancel me upon filing my third claim, I would have just paid the few hundred dollars out of my pocket and would been far better off. (And this even isn’t right ...)

This “policy” is nowhere in my policy and I think it’s wrong. In fact, I’ve been told that this new procedure was not enacted until 2009, after I filed my first two claims.

What’s even more disheartening is that my local State Farm agent, Tom Wells, told me that it would do no good for me to complain as they would not change their minds. He further stated that they were actually trying to get people to go up on their deductibles and not make claims for small amounts and this new rule was to help enforce that. Wow, this is just wrong.

If you’re a State Farm policy holder be sure to contact your agent and ask them about your standing and if you are on the verge of cancelation (for this, or maybe even some other reason that we’ve not been told about).

Interestingly, they still want to insure my car, for which there have been no claims made on the vehicle I drive less than 500 miles per year.

I know that a little old lady from central Georgia paying a multi-billion dollar company $750 per year is not going to get much attention; but maybe my story will resonate with others who have been unfairly treated.

However, I suspect we’ll see this November what happens when people finally get fed up with the powerful exercising their power over the powerless and band together. It is too late for me — can you help me help others?

Contact me at Lifedesignihs2@aol.com.

Pat Walston

Fayette County, Ga.

Location: 

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