I want to begin with a little bit of disclosure. I personally think that insurance is a scam to start with. Legally mandated insurance I view as extortion, and using your own tool (government) to do it with. That said, what I am about to write for you shows that State Farm Insurance company has done nothing to alter that view. In fact, they have solidified it greatly.
Another bit of disclosure of great importance is until we complete our shopping the Wife and I have been with State Farm for about 13 years (seperate accounts which merged when we got married). During this period we have insured 2-3 vehicles, our home, a business we had for three years, and her supplemental life insurance through this one company. In short they have recieved a significant amount of our income for the last 13 years.
It all started four years ago. We had a series of storms, which resulted in a small leak over my garage. We called State Farm for a recommended contractor. The guy comes out, gives an estimate well below our deductible and then performs the work. We file no claim and pay out of pocket as it is below our deductible.
Two years later (2011, a wind storm rips across our neighborhood. Approximately 10 shingles are pulled from our roof. Again we call State Farm Insurance and have one of their recommended contractors out. He gives an estimate below our deductible and says it can be patched, so we have him do the work and file no claim once again. We found out later through a general contractor friend that this guy charged us about double what most would charge to do the same work.
So here we are, on year four. January 2013. Huge windstorm. It rips about a third of the shingles off of the front of our house. Not wanting to use one of the contractors that State Farm supplied as it was starting to look like the fix was in, we ask around and a friend recommends the people that did their roof the previous year. It takes a couple of months to get a roofer out as most of the contractors leave the state over winter and the few that are here dont seem interested in working…but I digress.
The contractor comes out, looks it over and tells me that we need a new roof. Besides the missing shingles on the front of the house, on the rear of the house the “seal” is broken and the shingles flip up with little resistance and that this is all caused by heavy winds. He also shows me some staining on my garage ceiling that indicates a leak from the new damage. We say ok and call it in. An appointment was made for an adjuster to come out and have a look.
So we all (myself the contractor and TWO adjusters) gather up about a week later.
It is of importance to state that the primary adjuster they sent was nothing short of a total prick. He spoke to me as if I were a slow witted child and basically seemed to hold the position that I was attempting to defraud his company. He berates me for the quality of work that State Farm recommended contractors had done on the previous patches. This was really strange as the only claim we had filed in the 13 years we have been with them was due to a break in where our door was kicked in and a few possessions were stolen. As a side bar I should note that State Farm low balled us slightly that time too.
At any rate the adjusters had a look around and here is what they came back with. The Adjuster said he would pay for one of the four slopes of my roof to be replaced and that the other three could be patched. He said they would not pay for the leak damage as he considered that to be from the previous leak (without looking at it to see it was in a different area of the ceiling). He proceeded to write me a check for $381.37 cents and a statement for an additional $709.24 for incurred costs. With my deductible this gave $2090.61 to repair my roof. Given the size of my home I could not find anyone that would do it for under $4500.
So anyway, I started making arrangements with the contractor. After what I will politely term as a disagreement caused by miscommunication I fired them and called another contractor out. Boy was I glad I did that.
You see I ended up calling a guy who put a flyer on my door while I was firing the first contractor. He stopped by because he saw the back of my roof from the busy street behind my house and knew that there was significant damage based on that. It turned out that I had done business with him before as we printed his company shirts several years before when we had the print shop. It also turned out he was very familiar with the State Farm claims process as he had dealt with them on more than a few occasions.
So the new contractor explained to me that I could ask for a second inspection with a different adjuster. So we did. Two more guys showed up. They were much more professional that the previous set (although one of them clearly did not care for my contractor and it was mutual). They reviewed the damaage and came back with a new adjustment. Somehow the amount State Farm thought it would take to repair my roof was now $3565.03. Thats almost a $1500 difference ($1474.42 for those keeping score). While this was considerably better, they still refused to replace the rear slope of the home as the shingles were still “intact” even though with the seal broken they were virtually useless.
My contractor had already advised me that State Farm has an arbitration process involving structural engineers, so I ask the adjuster what the next step in the process was in the event I was still not satisfied. His only reply was “sue us” and walked away.
I of course called my agent the next day and complained again. I asked if there was another step and he also told me about the arbitration process and that he would request it from corporate for me. He also stated he would call me back the next day to confirm. Three days later I called him back. He was unavailable. I stopped by the office. He was unavailable. The other agent who was in explained to me that they could not control whether corporate approved the process or not. In short…corporate agreed with the adjuster. Sue us.
A lawsuit (as they already knew) would possibly give me a net gain of about $1200 dollars if I won. If I lost I would still be out that $1200 plus legal fees and I needed to get my roof fixed so my neighborhood association would not sue me. So I decided to not sue.
Instead I am telling as many people who will listen what kind of company State Farm Insurance is. This is all documented. In fact, just to show that this is not an isolated case and that State Farm is basically just a big rip off “sue us” company….check out these articles from the last couple of years.
The list goes on and on. Just do a quick search on any search engine.
So remember consumers, you are required to carry certain types of insurance by law, but Caveat Emptor is absolutely the rule. Especially when dealing with a company like State Farm.
P.S. Around the time of my break in, I had a friend who was broken into twice in a three month period. Between times he added an alarm and bars on his windows (but you know how determined a thief can be). State Farm dropped him right afterword and caused his Insurance rates to almost triple. He ended up having to get rid of the house because he could not afford to insure it. Just saying.