Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fighting With the Man: Don't Tread on Me, State Farm

I'm not the kind of guy who, whenever things begin to go wrong, thinks the moon and planets are aligned against him. But sometimes it feels like anything that can go wrong generally does.

My issue du jour is a little dust up with State Farm over my home-owner's-insurance premium....from last year.

Here's the 411: My HO premium increased from between 10% and 15% each of the past three years. It's gone up more than 30% from the time I bought the policy eight years ago to last year. One of the reasons I moved from South Florida was insurance premiums that were guaranteed to go up year after year no matter what. In the four years I owned my home in Boynton Beach, my HO premium went from about $100 per month to $600 per month – per M-O-N-T-H! I had never filed a claim.

So, you might imagine my unhappiness when my HO premium on my little hovel in SC began escalating. When my premium notice arrived last year, I had enough and called my agent requesting an explanation for the ever rising premiums. The person I spoke with – you never seem to get to talk to the agent in a State Farm office – gave me a song and dance about State Farm changing its formulas for HO policies that made everyone's premium spike last year. It was about 14% in my case.

I have Greenville friends who own a half dozen or so rental homes – most of which are in Greenville. Not only do they have their insurance on these homes with State Farm, but with the same agent as I. They saw a 20% spike in the premium on the policy for one of their Greenville houses and a notable jump in the others.

Apparently State Farm found a creative new path to stick it to its SC clients.

After some discussion with the contact at my agent's office, I decided to increase my deductible in a feeble attempt to drag my premium back to some degree of affordability. In doing so, she told me she thought I could save around $80, or about the amount of last year's increase. She asked me to call back the next day and get the exact amount of savings after she submitted the request to State Farm.

Calling back I learned the savings wasn't as much as predicted, but would still be $62. I offered to run a check to the agency, so the new paperwork and my premium payment would arrive at State Farm in a neat little bundle. Oh no, she told me, you can either send in a check for the original premium amount, in which case State Farm would refund the $62, or send the revised amount and it would all work itself out at corporate.

I chose to send the revised amount.

After sending off my check, I immediately received a notice from State Farm demanding the difference. I didn't think much about it, figuring the paperwork was still working its way through the system. Two weeks later I received another notice and had the same reaction. After the second notice, I never heard another word. Figuring the paperwork had finally entered the State Farm circle-jerk maze, I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to nine months later. Meandering out to my mailbox on Friday, I discovered a love note from State “We Don't Know Our Ass From Our Elbow” Farm demanding the $62 or face cancellation effective June 1.

Because of my travel schedule over the next couple of weeks, I'm not going to be able to address this for a while, but when I do, it will be to look for another insurance company. I made a couple of calls for quotes last year and neither company I called could beat my State Farm premium. As unhappy as I am with State Farm, I wasn't going to cut off my nose to spite my face. I stopped at two because I was busy then as well. But this year I'll call every company that has even thought about insuring homes in SC. My goal is to have a new policy in place by June 1.

Meantime, I will contact my agent, or more likely his lackey, to try to find out where the breakdown occurred. I may have to pay the $62, but it will be the last I pay State Farm for my HO insurance.

The “man” won't hold me down.....

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