State Farm Insurance, Washington State - trouble with water damage claim

Posted on Saturday, August 24th, 2002 at 12:00am CDT by 885f603a

Company: State Farm Insurance, Washington State - trouble with water damage claim

Category: Other received the following consumer message on August 22, 2002:


RE: State Farm Insurance, Washington State - trouble with water damage claim

Thank you so much for your quick response to my inquiry! The irony is that advocate groups tend to address issues directly while those who are elected seemingly represent themselves and 'big business'! I've no doubt that your experience with Deborah Senn was one of communication. She is sorely missed. The present situation of not having contacts within the current office speaks for itsself. This has been our experience, when addressing the issues directly to Mr. Kriedler, they were not only ignored, but passed along to the very person whom we included in the complaint within his office! In short, this person asked me, "don't you want this issue resolved" when I inquired as to WHY the State Farm agent wanted to come to our home AFTER our policy was non-renewed! Also, this person stated that State Farm Insurance is the largest insurer in the state of Washington and by comparison, the amount of complaints vs the size of the corporation was negligent!

I believe this advocate for the consumer neglected to view the rhetoric purported by State Farm in their muddied responses to complaints with the BBB. Noteworthy, is that any 'big business' can insert their side of the story to the BBB website and justify their position to the public. I seriously doubt the consumer's received any kind of justice to their dilemma. Other reports about State Farm unethical practices speak loudly. The overview that I would like to present is not uncommon with regards to State Farm practices. But each situation adds just another insight as to how far an envelope can be pushed by big businesses and those in an elected powerful position, will hamper attempts to reasonably conclude the favor to the consumer because of possible connections. In December of last year, Washington State experienced a record rainfall in 100 years. No doubt damages to homes and property were significant. A State Farm agent indicated some 19,000 claims had been filed. We experienced rain damages to soil from water that ran towards our home, moving that soil to another location! Inside the home, rain entered through a stovepipe ontop of the roof causing a water stain only to the ceiling. Contacting the agent to inform him of what had ocurred with full knowledge that this was not covered in the policy, the agent deemed this to be a claim inspite of informing him this was not a claim. The reasoning to notify the agent was to inform, as one, being a policy holder for years, it is expected by that individual to act responsibly with regards to an asset held by that policy.

Prior knowledge that this agent examined the property some years back and then notified by mail that he had done so and indicated that periodically inspections of the property can take place, the notification was that there was moss on the roof and it was to be taken care of so that this would not interfere with coverage in case of damages by that moss. The moss was noted and subsequently removed. Hence, contacting the agent after the rain storms in the event that a visit would ocurr, and notifying the agent that replacment and repair was our responsibility, in our opinion, the subject was over. But, a notice in the mail indicated that the policy would not be renewed because of damages and that a claim had been filed. Subsequently, this claim was considered a non-paid claim for water loss. Note, no agent came to the home to take photos or inspect the interior of the home. Letter's from State Farm indicated their findings as damages to the foundation, soil erosion and damages to the dwelling from a leak in the roof. A letter to the Insurance Commissioner indicated that this information provided by State Farm was false, that this was not a claim and that subsequent entry of this information into the data base for CLUE REPORTING should be removed immediately.

Attempts to secure insurance after this data base entry resulted in over the telephone denials for insurance based on the rating supplied by State Farm. Please note, to this date, not one single insurance agency will accept a policy for coverage! To be forced to secure insurance at a higher premium through the mortgage company, nearly two and one half times more than the former policy is an outrage. Coverage is only for fire and all contents unsecured. Equally disturbing is that no prior claims existed and in having made contact with the Insurance Commissioner resulted in an agent for State Farm making contact to come and take photographs of the home and property. Exterior photos were taken, but the agent never entered the home. All washed away soil had been replaced and the home ceiling had been painted. The agents letter post his visit indicated that there had been a diversion of soil that would result in water being sent directly to the neighbors yard and home. This is ludicrious since my land slopes into my own yard and the neighbors water run off goes into my yard! Again it was determined that the policy would not be renewed. All correspondence from State Farm, either through the Insurance Commissoner's Office to us or directly to us has been laden with falsehoods and outright selective interpretations that on the surface, negate what is factually visible but appear to give State Farm justifications for acting as they did. Imagine our surprise when the agent who came to take photographs, was told he was to call the Commissioner's office before photographing and explain his reason for making contact with us and wanting to take those photographs. He replied, "Oh, Ethel, I know her, I'll call her later!"

This behavior indicated to us that irrespective of the Commissioner's duty to the consumer, State Farm didn't have to respond to the request by the Commissioner's office on any level and that our situation was without recourse of any kind. This agent simply 'had it in the bag'. Another 'notch' on the ladder to success in re-organizing to recover substantial losses in recent years through weather conditions and the September 11 terrorist attacks. In considering State Farm Insurance, it's agents, their web page fraught with false advertising, advantages over the consumer and lack of ethical practices, we consistently made it clear we would NEVER return to State Farm had they later changed their minds and renewed the policy. They cannot be trusted and are not reputable in a profession where they hold consumer's hostage with CLUE REPORTING after they no longer hold an interest in a policy. Equal to this, State Farm's instigating CLUE REPORTS with policies they no longer hold ANY interest in, clearly places the consumer hostage for 5 years and creates a hostile business to business enviroment in the states they operate in. The state of Washington law indicates that insurer's will base a policy on the merit of their own review. But we have been consistently refused insurance by other powerful agencies who TOLD us that the CLUE REPORT, entered by State Farm, is the reason for denial. State Farm stated they are not responsible for what 'other' agencies state.

This ignorant response is typical of State Farm but is more than obvious to the businesses who risk law suits and sanctions from denial without reviewing on their own merit. The following statement by an agent from State Farm who read a complaint on a web page from a former policyholder shows that irrespective of the laws that apply to agencies reviewing policies on their own merit, State Farm acts above the law on two levels, one while holding a policy and two, after non-renewal, this is a meal lawyer's would love to have everyday, I quote: "While realizing that some losses are unavoidable, our underwriting guidelines were established in the best interest of our entire policyholder group." Additionally, mortgage companies, banks, and real estate agencies suffer because of State Farm's unethical practices.Again, State Farm may not hold any monetary interest in a policy but they continue to hold the consumer hostage for 5 years because of their data base entries and this often forces the consumer to obtain coverage outside of their state with fly by night agencies who will not protect the dwelling or property through periodic examinations because of it being cost prohibitive to send agents state to state. Clearly, the state loses revenue because of State Farm actions when only an out of state insurer will take on the purported 'risk'. This allows those consumer's who are neglegent in repairs to cost taxpayers additional dollars, lowers other home values in neighborhoods, reduces home/property sales and pits lending institutions against trustworthy consumer's. Coupled with this is that State Farm knowingly jeopardizes the former policy holder who COULD suffer significant losses during the period of trying to locate an insurer who will handle a policy. This lack of concern is reprehensible. Again, the consumer is punished by State Farm actions.

The list can go on and on, and WHY State Farm is NOT taking a responsible acknowledgement of the hostilities they create is just one more nail in their own demise as their motto no longer represents what it still purports, "Like A Good Neighbor, State Farm Is there". Their agents, guided by fear of losing their jobs and head officials who make a mockery of the consumer is at best typical of the ugly business State Farm is notorious for, and as a consumer, I will no longer tolerate their actions. The founder of State Farm Insurance would be ashamed now of what his original creed has become under the current direction. I look forward to hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to place State Farm on the front burner for citizens in the state of Washington. I also look forward to the information for policy holder advocates and trial lawyers that represent the public interest.


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