Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fire Update - Subhed Red Tape

What a difference a day makes. I got a call from the insurance company.
They're cutting the checks.

And sending the checks to the adjustment company.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fire Update - Subhed Red Tape

There's nothing to tell -- it's still not resolved!

The public adjustment company quit. Or fired me. I don't think there's any correct nomenclature. I just got a notice one day in May that said they were no longer handling my claim, thanks, goodbye, you owe us money.

A lot of the problem stemmed from language difficulties. Not that I spoke English and the adjuster assigned to my case spoke Spanish, but that I spoke in complete sentences and she spoke in "Whatever"s and "You know"s and "The other thing"s.

"You know, you need to fill out that other thing."

"What other thing?"

"The thing. The what you call it. You know?"

"No, I don't know! What other thing?!"

"Oh, what-EVER!"

I'd try to pin her down, to put some nounflesh on the "whatevers" and "other things", and we'd both wind up getting frustrated and angry. And then she'd mutter in Spanish.

But the ultimate key to our falling out was her incompetence. She was supposed to send me insurance company documents, reports, etc to my new address in Brooklyn: XXX Prospect Park Southwest, Brooklyn, NY, care of Jane Austen (not her real name). She habitually sent stuff to XXX Prospect Park WEST, care of Shane Boston, or Jane Auslin. When I told her that she sent stuff to the wrong address, she reflexively responded that she sent stuff to the address I gave her, whatever. She also suggested that I go to XXX Prospect Park West, and knock on the door, and ask if there were any packages for me. This was rendered impossible by the fact that there is no XXX Prospect Park West.

The problem is, one of the mislaid packages was the itemized settlement -- a breakdown of what has to be replaced in my house and the amount each would cost. I know the total amount, but not the itemized details. The adjuster said I had to sign the document and sent it back to her. I said she had to send me the document. she said she did. I said she sent it to the wrong address. She said she sent it to the address I gave her, whatever.. The cycle of violence continued.

I asked to have her replaced, the company refused. I asked her to resend the document, she refused. Then they said they were no longer handling my claim. I tried to get the insurance company's adjuster involved, but he's been incommunicado all summer. I finally called my insurance broker, and she's been doing what she can -- mainly calling the insurance company's adjuster and leaving messages.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fire Update - Subhed Red Tape

Well, time for cautious optimism. I called my insurance broker yesterday.
I had been focusing my efforts on contacting the claims manager for the
insurance company instead. this is the person who actually sold my father
the insurance on the house in 1994, and the person who transferred that
insurance to me in 1999. I hadn't spoken to her since the fire because I
frankly did not think of calling her until yesterday. I had been focusing
my efforts on contacting the claims manager for the insurance company

Anyway, she was able to look on the Traveler's secure website, and she
determined that (1) my claim is still open, (2) there's "a great deal of
money" in the account. What's holding everything up? She'll get back to

The point is, this is the most official information I've gotten in 7

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fire Update - Subhed Red Tape

Not exactly.

At 9 am, six hours after the fire -- when I had been awake for 27 hours and
still in shock from the loss of my house -- I signed a contract with an
adjustment company. Adjustment companies are middlemen who "handle" all
the paperwork and negotiations between you and the insurance company, for a
4% fee.

I did this on the advice on my aunt (whose house fire a few years before
was handled in stellar fashion by her adjustment company), and my brother's
lawyer, who said he advises all his clients to use adjustment companies in
these cases.

(When I went to sign my name on the contract, the pen ran out of ink. If
you're the kind who believes in omens, that should have been a warning
right there.)

Well, it turns out that the adjustment company is "partnered with" (they
say partnered, I say "a front for") a construction company that as luck
would have it specializes in rebuilding houses damaged by fire. A month
after the blaze, I was handed a building contract. I said I preffered to
find my own contractor. From that moment I was emptor non grata with the
adjustment company.

A second email from them today claims that I never returned their phone
calls. Little do they know I'm a geek lunatic who downloads his phone
records every month, and can show that they haven't called me since

But that's beside the point. The real question is, am I better off without
them? they claimed they would negotiate with the insurance company on my
behalf, but I have no evidence that they ever did. We know how useless
they were at finding me a place to live after the fire.

All this really means is that I'm going to have to start negotiating with
the insurance company on my own.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fire Update - Subhed Red Tape

After a year of jerking me around, I just got word
that the adjustment company has closed my case file. No explanation, no
reason, just a curt email saying they've closed my case file.

It's probably for the best, I think -- their incompetence (deliberate or
actual) has essentially kept my life on hold for a year, and with them gone
perhaps something will actually get done.

It appears that their entire goal was to get me to use their construction
company to rebuild my house -- the minute I shied away from that, my calls
became low priority, and activity on my claim slowed to a crawl.

I'm betting that they're going to claim that I owe them for the demolition
work they did, gutting the interior of my house. We'll see.