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Please Note! BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has moved to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
I would like to hear both positive and negative experiences with
your auto and home owner's insurances with either AAA, or
Travelers. Specifically, I would like to know how your
experiences were with
* Customer service (Were you able to reach their customer service promptly when you needed it? Did your claim handled promptly? How is the attitude of the customer service?)
* Length of time to resolve your claim.
* Follow up
Thank you! Mika
I am thinking of switching our auto and home insurance to save money. We are currently paying $1100 a year for one car and $700 for the other through State Farm and when I went on the Progressive website it looked like I could insure both for about half that and keep the same level of coverage. I am going to investigate that more fully, but what I'm wondering is if anyone knows anything about their homeowners insurance or can recommend the insurance company you use (Geico, etc.) Thanks from a family trying to save some money! Kristin
After shopping around and comparing prices, we settled on insurance that was recommended to us by our realtor.
Scott Halbrook Insurance Agency with Farmer's Insurance Group is our new insurer for two cars and our home. And, all of it costs less per year than Geico was for only the two cars. In addition we have better coverage and included roadside assistance and it was still less than our Geico policy. We pay, I think, $18 additional per policy period for Scott's services, as opposed to going through Farmer's directly, but he is worth the charge in my opinion.
He came to our (then) apartment at a time convenient for us to meet and explained all the various types of coverages available for both our home-to-be and our cars. He discussed the benefits of choosing certain options over others, pulled out a bunch of different discounts we didn't realize were available to us, and explained some important things about securing our identities from theft while going through the final phases of buying a home (just 'cause he was a nice guy and had been through the process a number of times and had seen a variety of clients have identify theft issues after a home purchase).
Anyway, we've only worked with him for the past few months and haven't had any major claims, but his office is always prompt to return calls and when I had a flat one day, they sent out their towing/tire change guys within about 20 minutes. And I can still pay my bills and view all my policy information online through Farmer's website. Just my two cents...
Scott Halbrook can be reached at halbrookinsuranceagency.com or 510-531-1432 and his office is in Montclair. Best of luck finding the company that suits your needs! Becky
We have CSAA Home and Auto insurance and are dissatisfied. I have some been given recommendations, but am seeking specific information for full replacement value home insurance. Does anyone know which home insurance companies were well rated, and which were poorly rated, after the Oakland Fire? Or have you ideas on how I could find out? No self- promotion, please. Thank you. Judy
Can anyone recommend a home owners insurance agent in Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito? We are thinking of switching from our distance-agent to someone we can sit down with. Possibly State Farm?
while shopping around, i found two other great offers. one was Ricardo Javier from Farmers in walnut creek: (925) 933-2304. also on top of everything and really nice.
but the least expensive one (by about 25%) i found was Lalaine DeLeon at Highline Insurance (510 735 2685) who gave me a Fidelity National Property & Casualty policy. not very well-known, but it is a legitimate company and more famous in other parts of this country. i checked extensively, and Lalaine even had a higher-up exec (a VP?) contact me when i had extremely specific questions outside the scope of her range. she wasn't as responsive but still got back to me. the problem was that my new home is rebuilt but is still a 100-year-old house, so i had to show proof of all the updates because it was more than 60-years-old. the thought of going back and forth to get all the permits and work history was too daunting, nor did i have enough time. i didn't think she was as knowledgeable, but if you know how much you want to insure for and are only looking for the lowest rate, i recommend Highline. who knows, i might switch later when i have more time to deal with the binding document.
good luck!! obsessive researcher
Kind of ironic -- yesterday I read up about homeowners insurance in the archives because I'm thinking of switching companies, and today I might have an insurance claim. I had always thought that homeowners insurance basically just covered fire and theft. I was surprised to read in the archives that people got their insurance to cover things like a broken window and damage to floors caused by a household employee using the wrong product. I had no idea this kind of thing would be covered.
So here's my question. We have sustained some damage to our kitchen floor, caused by human error. I'm wondering if our insurance might in fact cover this. Does it make a difference if it's a household employee as opposed to the homeowner? Does it matter if the insurance co. even knew about these new floors (we had them installed a year ago)? In general, under what circumstances does an insurance co. cover human error? Would our rates go up if we claimed this? Is there a chance we could be cancelled?
Thanks very much for any info you can provide. messed up floors
About 6 years ago, a housecleaner improperly used a very strong cleaning product on my ''no-wax'' Armstrong vinyl kitchen floor which destroyed the surface ''no-wax'' layer. I also saw some damaged spots (not very big but very ugly) in a highly visible place right by the kitchen door that looked like some of the same cleaning product had been splashed there. I was dismayed at the cost of replacing the whole kitchen floor and having the wood floor resanded, and a friend suggested that I ask my homeowner's insurance co. (CSAA) about coverage.
The adjuster who came out to look was both easy-going and overworked, and had no interest in disputing a claim. She immediately wrote in replacing the kitchen floor. She looked at the wood floor, noted (on her own initiative) that in order to refinish it properly without the newly refinished part standing out, that the whole dining room and living room would need to be refinished- and she added that in!
I mentioned my concern about the dust from the refinishing since I'd had a recent bout of severe asthmatic bronchitis, and she said that they would move all my stuff from those rooms into storage for the duration of the work, give me money to stay in a hotel, and have the whole place thoroughly cleaned before moving my stuff back in. I was about to fall over at this point, and then she said that they would also pay for my 3 dogs to be boarded while I wasn't living there.
All of this, and some other little things that she threw in, eventually added up to something like $20,000.
A couple of years before that, they replaced my main sewer line (the original 1923 galvanized pipe one) with a ''no-trench'' one. The old one had been destroyed by a street tree, and apparently there was some technicality in my policy that covered that situation. That cost about $4500.
Other than that, over the last 18 years, the only other claim I've filed was for about $1500. worth of camera equipment that was stolen from my car.
My premium rates, which are very fair, have never been raised one penny as a result of any of these claims. I wonder, after reading other people's stories, if my experience was a complete fluke, or whether CSAA is more forgiving than other insurers. Has anyone else been as lucky as I was, or should I be much more cautious about considering any future claims? anon
We've had CSAA for both home and auto for 5 years and have been pretty satisfied -- no major claims so it's hard to say. But given that CSAA no longer offers guaranteed replacement, I'm wondering if there's any reason to stay with them. So I'm interested in people's experiences with other insurance companies. I suspect we could find lower rates somewhere else. I'd also like to get recommendations of any insurance brokers you've worked with who aren't your stereotypical insurance brokers. Someone who won't try to sell us all kinds of things we don't need. A female insurance broker would be great, but of course not necessary. Thanks. trying to be thrifty
I have lived in Montclair for 8 years. When we moved here, we learned that many insurers would not insure in Montclair because of the fire and landslide risk. We wound up getting insured by Allstate. We had a landslide within 1 year of moving into our house and filed a claim. I'm sure Allstate paid out at least $50,000 to resolve the claim. Our annual bill from Allstate (on a home worth about $800k) is now $2000 with a $2500 deductible. Everyone I know says this is REALLY HIGH. For those of you who live in Montclair, who insures you and approximately how high is your annual insurance cost?? I would really like to switch from Allstate... Thanks!
In any event it may be difficult for you to switch insurers. Insurers use a system called CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) to share information about past loss experience by property location. So you can't go to another insurer and tell them you've never had a claim. I think it would be difficult to find another insurer to cover you with such a recent claim unless you had some ''in'', like an association you belong to with group rates. The only group I can think of offhand to which you might belong is California State Automobile Association - the northern California branch of the AAA. They write both auto and homeowner's insurance. You might try there. But you really should have your auto and homeowners with the same carrier, because the discount for doing so is substantial.
For the record, I don't think $2000 is a high premium. It's what I pay in the flats of Berkeley, and I've never had a claim. insurance professional
I am in the process of purchasing my first home, and my home loan officer suggested I start shopping around for Fire Insurance, but I have no idea where to start. Does anyone have suggestions on how to go about the process of looking for Fire Insurance? I understand it is easy to access quotes from different insurance agencies when it comes to car or homeowner's insurance, but when I search for Fire Insurance through Google, barely any advice or quotes are available. Can anyone recommend me a person or company where I can ask questions to gain a better perspective of what is "good" fire insurance coverage, as opposed to "bad?" I would greatly appreciate any information you could provide. Thanks. Jeffrey
Hello, I wonder if someone can help me get oriented with my homeowners insurance problem. I bought a small house in 1994 and had the same local insurance company till now. In September I accepted a position abroad for ten months. A few days before leaving, I was robbed. When I was making my claim, two things happened: 1) I learned that my insurance company was in total chaos while it was being absorbed into a larger midwestern company, and 2) I asked my agent to tell me how best to handle my house while I was gone--tenant? no tenant? The answer to this question got lost in trying to complete the claim papers, deal with the robbery, her move, my move, etc. Now I am abroad and trying to handle the ensuing mess from here.
Long story short: the agent told the underwriter at the new company that I had rented my house and was gone for over a year. Neither was really true--I had someone watching the house and I didn't know whether I was gone for 6 months or ten months, but definitely not a year. In any case, without confirming the information or notifying me ahead of time, my agent sent me a letter at the end of December saying that my insurance was cancelled as of 12/19 since her new company has no coverage for my situation. This has really troubled my peace of mind--I was so pleased that I was leaving for a few months with all my business in order.
Well, thank you for reading this far.
What is my situation now? I still don't know: from an insurance standpoint, is it better to have the house rented or empty? Is it so terrible to leave for a few months that a longtime insurance company would cancel insurance??????? All her letters were scolding, warning, punitive, I found it completely odd and confusing.
I did some research online and learned two things: 1) I didn't know how to research a property that is renter-occupied for less than a year (this seems to be a special category, different from more than a year), and 2) many companies ask if your insurance has ever been cancelled...and is it true that now I have to say yes and that this is bad?
Oh, I forgot something. My agent sent me a fire-only policy-- more than double the price of the previous full coverage--and said I also have to find homeowners insurance somewhere else...I don't know how to evaluate this or whether I've understood it properly.
In addition to any other guidance, is there a specific company someone can refer me to?
Thanking everyone in advance. Troubled Homeowner Abroad
Since I don't have all of the specifics here, I can only make general comments, but I think I can provide this woman with some direction. First of all, if she wants to make a complaint against the insurance company, she can go to the California Department of Insurance. Their website is www.insurance.ca.gov. She could make a case that the prior agent misrepresented her situation to the underwriter and that things got lost in the shuffle during the company's consolidation, resulting in the cancellation. However, that's water under the bridge right now, and may or may not help in the long run (the underwriter may have still wanted to get off the risk with a 6-10 month vacancy/rental).
With respect to her current underwriting situation, she's in a tough spot: she's living abroad (which creates it's own special exposure), she's had a recent! claim, she's been cancelled by another carrier, and her U.S. home is either vacant or rented out. It would be better if the home had a housesitter or was rented because then at least someone would be on site taking care of the premises. Vacant homes are harder to insure. And yes, she does have to disclose that she's been cancelled previously, but she can explain the circumstances.
Her current options are few. She needs some kind of fire policy to cover the main property exposure, but she also needs personal liability (which would come with a full homeowners policy). If she has a family friend or housesitter taking care of the premises (versus a paying tenant or a vacant home), we could probably write a homeowners policy for her to bridge the gap between now and when she returns. If the home is rented out or vacant, she'll have to get a fire policy and a separate personal li! ability policy, and the pricing will be more expensive than a standard homeowners policy. She also needs to ensure that her personal property is covered while she's abroad, which we usually handle via an international policy, but that can be expensive. Her biggest exposure right now is covering the home and her personal liability, so she may want to self insure for property she has while traveling abroad. She's correct that this short-term situation is unique, and that there's no easy way to address the insurance exposure. That's why I asked if the home is being occupied by a non- paying tenant, because in that scenario we may be able to write full homeowners coverage, knowing that the property owner is only away temporarily, and is not leaving the home vacant or renting it to strangers.
If she is renting it out, the fire and personal liability policies will be more expensive than what she w! as paying, but those can be replaced by a standard homeowners policy when she returns. The fact that she's had a recent claim will mean that any replacement coverage will be more expensive than what she was paying, but it sounds like she had a sub-par carrier before, so it's time to upgrade.
Hopefully that helps. - Kerri
Our insurance company (Amica) recently notified us that they will no longer offer guaranteed replacement cost coverage - instead, they are capping payments at 130% of our policy limit. They said this was due to rising construction costs in the area, and since then, we haven't been able to find anyone who still guarantees replacement regardless of your policy limit. Two questions: (1) can anyone recommend a company that STILL offers this coverage and if so, what's your experience with them? (2) if it's not possible to get this coverage, how in the bejeezus does one determine the $ amount of appropriate coverage? Obviously we don't want to overpay, but we want to be adequately covered. Thanks! Jean
To the person who wanted information about guaranteed replacement cost she offered this advice: ''To the best of my knowledge, no companies operating in CA today offer policies with guaranteed replacement cost. My recommendation to clients is to seek advice from a variety of sources. If they have had work done on there home in the last few years then consult the contractor for estimated cost per square foot to rebuild. Realtors and architects can also be great sources. The planning and zoning department at the city level can also give area averages. For example in Berkeley and Oakland right now the average is about $250 per square foot and in San Francisco it is about $340. Because of the differences from home to home it is always best to get estimate from someone familiar with the home.'' Rachel M
We are currently in escrow and looking for homeowners insurance. Does anyone have any good or bad comments/recommendations? We are moving to Albany. Thanks! Juliet
I am interested in whether anyone uses AAA for home insurance and, if so, what your experience has been. We used to use Allstate for both car and home and then had to switch to AAA for car for a few months (Allstate bounced us after we were a few days late with the payment). It's cheaper to have both policies with one company, so now we're trying to decide whether to have both at AAA, switch back to Allstate for both, or do something else. Any thoughts welcome. Thanks. Phyllida
I had a major claim on damage to my floors because of a housecleaner's misuse of a product, and the adjuster gave me many things beyond my original request (they paid for everything to be removed from my house and stored for the duration of the project because I have mild asthmatic bronchitis, they paid money for lodging during the project for me and my dogs and cats, they paid for a professional cleaning of the house after the work, and more- it was amazing. At another time, they replaced my main sewer line for me because of tree root damage, and I have had a couple of small theft claims.
I have had no major claims on a vehicle, just a few very little, minor ones. (I have a perfect driving record so don't know how they would respond if I got any points.)
There have been no repercussions on my policies at all- none.
And, they give me a rider on my vehicles for business use rather than requiring me to get a separate, expensive, commercial policy.
They have been very, very good to me and easy to deal with. My rates rose some (an across the board raise, not specific to me), but not an outrageous amount this year, and I just figured that the cost of everything's going up.
But, I hadn't noticed the 150% limit on replacement and that concerns me. I also would like to know what other insurance cos. are presently doing in this regard and what claims experiences people have had with those cos. It's the claims experience that is really telling I think. Cecelia
Hey all -- I'm shopping for home insurance and I understand that State Farm is no longer offering home insurance in California. The only recs for home insurance in the archives are for State Farm agents. I would like some recommendations for other companies. Thanks so much, Laurel
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