I’m practicing anger management as I deal with my insurance company.
I’m not sure whether it’s working, but I’m trying.
After August’s hurricane Irene storms, I noticed four damp spots on the ceiling in our master bedroom.
Since several “storm chasing” contractors canvassed our neighborhood after the storm and left literature on my door, I called one of them to inspect our roof.
Fernando, the insurance claim specialist, climbed up on the roof, took at least 20 pictures of our roof damage, then came down and showed them to me. Clearly our roof was hail damaged.
I called our State Farm Insurance agent to explain the problem. He sent an adjuster to look at the roof. I called Fernando and asked him to be here to make sure he stayed in the loop.
The adjuster went into the bedroom, glanced quickly at the water spots, left the room, went outside, and climbed on the roof. A few minutes later he came down and said since I filed a claim for wind damage and there wasn’t evidence of significant wind damage, they couldn’t help us.
Wind damage? I never said we had wind damage. I said we had hail damage.
No, he insisted, “You filed a claim under a wind damage cat code.”
What’s a cat code?
Oh, it’s a catastrophe code.
I’ve never heard of such a thing so I surely didn’t file a claim under a certain cat code.
Still he persisted and said since the wind damage only caused a few spots on the ceiling, that wouldn’t even meet our five percent deductible so State Farm couldn’t help me.
Wait a minute. We don’t have a five percent deductible. That would be ludicrous. Who can shell out five percent of the value of their home as a deductible? You better check your records because I’m sure we have a one percent deductible.
Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because it still wouldn’t be worth having the insurance company pay to repair a few wet spots, he said.
What about the hail damage on the roof?
Oh, I didn’t check the hail damage on the roof, he said, because that’s a different cat code and you filed a claim under a wind damage cat code.
I did not file a claim under a wind damage cat code. I told you that the water spots alerted me to the hail damage on the roof and I wanted you to inspect the hail damage.
Nope, can’t look at the hail damage because it’s the wrong cat code.
Let me just say I have had this exact conversation now with at least 10 different State Farm representatives. They all have exceptional phone skills and seem to be decent note takers because they keep saying, “Let me add that to the log Mrs. Turner,” and “Oh, let me check the log for that.” “Wow, Mrs. Turner this is a very long, detailed log.”
Ah yeah, it’s because I’ve talked to Jeff, Barbara, Ronnie, Greg, Loretta, Heather, Kate, and some new lady today I wanted to strangle because the first thing she said was, “I’m just going to put some notes down about this, okay?”
I get it!
State Farm representatives know how to take notes, review notes, and take more notes, and throw out cat code lingo, but does anyone know how to actually respond to a claim and let me fix my roof?
This is where the anger management comes in. The Mayo Clinic offers tips on managing anger and I decided to see how well I managed my anger directed at State Farm.
1. Take a time out.
Okay, I took several because this fiasco is now moving into the fourth or fifth week. I’ve had lunches with friends, even went on a little trip for a time out. It was even called “Time Out for Women.” Still the problem persists.
2. Once you’re calm, express your anger.
Check that off the list too. I called my local agent back and explained about the multiple phone calls, the long notes in my file, the misunderstanding about the cat code. Then she condescendingly said, “I hate to ask but have you talked to your husband about this? I mean are you both on the same page on this? Maybe your husband gave the wrong cat code.” Enough with the cat codes already! I didn’t even know cat codes existed until your adjuster told me I filed the wrong one, which I didn’t because I never once uttered the words “wind damage” or “cat code.”
3. Get some exercise.
Check that one too. It’s not helping my anger. It helps while I’m exercising but what about when the phone rings again and yet another agent says, “Let me check your record here…and take a few notes.” Talk about getting exercise. Talking to State Farm gets me plenty exercised.
4. Think before you speak.
Last week when I was sent back to my local agent, I calmly outlined the problem for the umpteenth time and she said, “Oh well, it looks like you already filed a claim on your roof for wind damage and it was denied. That’s what the notes say.” Take a deep breath. Be nice and think before I speak. Check. I did that. She referred me to the national call center. Now that’s always a helpful thing, right?
5. Identify possible solutions.
Okay, the solution is simple. Forget the wind damage cat code already. Let’s start over. What is the cat code for hail damage? Let’s just clean the slate here and I’ll live with the inaccurate wind damage claim and lose my “no-claims filed discount” and we’ll start over. Great idea. Let me just take a few notes to add to your file…
6. Stick with “I” statements that describe the problem.
Clearly I mastered this one. It’s all in the notes.
7. Don’t hold a grudge.
Still working on that one.
8. Use humor to release tension.
Okay, I’ve been singing this song all afternoon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFJu8DCH_b0
Believe me, I’m praying for all those helpful note taking and note reviewing agents I really am.
9. Practice Relaxation Techniques.
I went to yoga last week does that count? I just can’t seal in all that namaste peacefulness and draw it up every time I get referred to someone new and start reviewing all those stinking notes.
10. Know when to seek help.
I confess I’m stumped on this one. Where do I go for help? Clearly no one within the entire company wants to deal with my piddling roof problem especially when there are still people with flooded basements and bigger storm related problems. If I get referred to one more person and I have to reiterate my story one more time and wait for yet another friendly agent to check my notes, I’m going to need more help than a few anger management tips. In honor of Halloween, I might end up in the Funny Farm. You know, like in the late song from the sixties “where life is beautiful all the time and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats? They’re coming to take me away he he ho ho to the Funny Farm?”
And to think it all started with a few spots on the ceiling and a call to my insurance company.