Friday, January 12, 2007

Grown-up things

Just before the New Year, we got the renewal bill for our renters' insurance. Surprised at the higher rate, we started shopping around for another company. (It was after we found a figure $200 cheaper than what our current company was charging, we realized that our current policy had been upgraded to cover $40,000 more worth of property, an upgrade we hadn't asked for nor which was highlighted for us.)

Still, we decided to go with the new company anyway. It's a company I have no problems with ... at least I hadn't. That's what you get when a lizard does things for you.

A few days ago, an envelope came in the mail from the new insurers. I was confused.

It was a thin envelope.

Just as it was during the college application process, a thin envelope is not good when it comes to insurance. Inside was a short, one-page letter informing us that our policy had been rejected because, it said, of our proximity to "coastal waters." (It also spelled "coastal" incorrectly -- "COSTAL" -- and "within" as well -- "WIHTIN." In retrospect, I'm glad we're not represented by a company that cannot find the spellcheck option on its word processing program.)

I called the umbrella company to see if there was another insurer in their midst that would cover us. I was told that no one at the Reptile would take us because we live 894 feet from the Hudson River.

What irks me is that, with today's online mapping technology (pick one), it takes mere moments to punch in our address and find out where we live. Why, when I was on the phone with the agent, could he not have put me on hold for 30 seconds to do that search? While we'll just go back to our previous company, I still think I'll file a complaint with the New Jersey board of insurers (or whatever it said on our cancellation letter), just to point that out.

And to point out another thing. While it's true that we live close -- within 900 feet, apparently -- to the Hudson, and we're far enough south that it's still tidal at that point, we're also on a hill. In a second-floor apartment. On what I can only imagine is bedrock, considering the cliffs that rise another few hundred feet away from us (and away from the river). I'd estimate that we're at least 60 feet above the waterline -- and sea level, for that matter. So if we were to be flooded out of our apartment, there would be much greater issues than whether our insurance company would be able to review our claim. For one thing, The Day After Tomorrow might be considered a soothsaying documentary rather than a fictional (attempt at a) blockbuster. For another, the company that insured us would be underwater in San Diego, and the larger company would likely have oceanfront property at its inland Virginia location.

Whatever. They won't get our money. Well, except the $149 I paid by credit card that will cover us until February 10. By then, we'll be back with our previous company (hopefully at a rate similar to what our previous coverage was, before the 40K bump) and carrying on, as Tim Gunn might say if he had anything to do with this, which he doesn't.

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