Up here in the frozen tundra, we are exiting one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record. We currently have over 50″ of snow on the ground (almost 30″ more than the average!). With all this snow and cold has come quite a bit of damage from ice/snow. We’ve even needed to file a weather-related insurance claim related to ice dams. Ugh!
We hope you never have to use your insurance – but when you do – you may be wondering, “when should you submit a claim?”
Dam! Another ice dam
Let me back up here and share how we needed to file another insurance claim in just under 3 years.
In the upper Midwest, one of the worst winter-related worries that can affect homeowners is ice dams. Basically, an ice dam can form when the heat from your house escapes from your house and warms your roof, causing melting snow to run off the eaves. Now, when this water hits the eaves (which is generally unheated and very cold) ice begins to form around the edge of your roof.
This built-up of melting snow and freezing over and over again can result in an ice dam. Melting water hits these dams and has no where to go but back and up-under your shingles, and (sometimes) into your walls.
This year, the dams got so bad we started to see water in the house, running down a window pane. Eek! Both my wife and I suffered some PTSD remembering the last time we went through this. Thankfully, the damage won’t be as bad as we encountered in ’11.
“Mr Insurance Man: We have a problem”
We almost immediately got on the phone with several people to get the snow/ice off the roof and then talked to our insurance agent to discuss options.
According to my agent, you should never immediately call your insurance company’s 1-800 number. Often, they will file an immediate claim.
Instead, you should first discuss your issue with your insurance agent. They’ll likely know your situation better and are have more tailored options for you.
So when should you file a claim?
Now, I’m not an insurance expert but I think that my experience having filed several claims in the past few years gives me some unwanted credibility about the matter.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind before submitting that claim:
- Not all claims are the same. Two of the claims we have made were weather-related incidences. Most insurance companies will treat these different than other claims and won’t likely “penalize” you for it.
- What is your deductible? Probably one of the most important things to consider is to find out what your current deductible is for each claim. Ours is $500. So, if we were to bring in a contractor and they found the damages to our house (related to the ice dam) less than $500 – it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to file the claim.
- Have you had any other claims recently? Knowing that we had several in the past few years gave us a lot of trepidation in filing again. In the state of Minnesota – insurance companies have the right to drop your coverage “if you have two or more claims [other than losses caused by natural causes, etc] in a consecutive 36 month period of time, your… policy may be non-renewed”. (Minnesota State Statute 65A.29)
- And, still: According to my insurance agent at McAlpin Agency, “Claims reported in MN can increase your rates even if nothing is paid out. Supposedly any weather related claim filed in the State of MN will not result in a ratings surcharge. But the statute does not limit any reduction of incident free credits you may have, only surcharges. Every insurance company has its own particular rating details. Some companies will never increase your rates when you file a claim, some will surcharge up to 40% for non-weather related claims.”
So, here are some questions to ask your agent when you speak to them about your incident:
- What effect will the filing of my claim have on my policy premiums?
- Do you think the potential repair cost will be less than the deductible?
- Will the filing of the claim expose me to potential cancellation of my policy?
Before filing our first initial claim with our insurance company, I have to admit that I was a bit “gun-shy”. I had these fears that once we submitted, our rates would skyrocket and we wouldn’t be renewed.
Of course, these turned out to be false. Even after a couple claims, we haven’t noticed any sizable increase in our premiums and are still insured.
I think many folks believe the same thing I did. Obviously you don’t want to be filing a claim after every incident but insurance is there for a reason and can be a great blessing when needed.
Have you ever had to file sizable claims with your insurance provider? What was your experience?
This week I need to pause and brag on a bunch of 3rd and 4th grade kids! For the last three years, I’ve been a part of a great basketball organization in the Omaha metro area called, Score4Sports. This past season I had the pleasure of coaching 9 awesome kids. We focused on learning the fundamentals of basketball, give weekly challenges on improving their character, have fun, and make some great friends along the way. Some weeks, I think I was having more fun than the kids! Throughout this last season, I was continually reminded of how important it is to invest in our children, and not just in terms of finances and money management. read more…
Stefanie over at The Broke and Beautiful Life was fortunate enough to be featured in this WSJ article, where the author talked about the dangers of wasting your money away on little things. Some of the commenters ridiculed Stefanie for insisting that grabbing a taco a few times a week could damage her budget, but after reviewing our 2012 spending – our first time ever tracking what we spent – we learned firsthand that those “little things” can indeed get you into a boatload of trouble.
It was December of 2012, and for the first “real” time in our lives, we’d made a decision to get our financial house in order and dump our tens of thousands of dollars of consumer debt. Since we didn’t get into that much consumer debt by going on vacations, buying new furniture or shopping at Macy’s, we figured it might be a good idea to go back through 2012 and see exactly what we had been spending our money on. read more…
- Student debt may be hurting housing recovery by hampering first-time home buyers
- Household debt rises at fastest pace since pre-Recession
- Ten things you should never pay for
- American’s spent $9,200,000,000 on vitamins in 2012
- Beware of drip-pricing
- How to handle one-time expenses on a tight budget
- Mr. Buffett offers a refresher on his value investing approach
- America’s aging farmers
- Statistics showing that human labor is growing obsolete
- Check our esurance’s Fuelcaster app to find out when gas prices will rise/fall in your area
- In the last 3 months of 2013, banks made $40.3 billion for an all-time record
- How to live below your means: tips to save on food
- Miss Thrifty: “8 of my all-time favorite money saving tips“
- 8 ways to save on groceries
- Some entertaining finance articles
On Friday, I went into work with out having eaten breakfast and I stopped by our local cafeteria at work to pick up a sausage and egg sandwich. After purchasing my sandwich and getting my change back I noticed something different about the back of the dollar bill I received. A previous owner of my dollar bill had scratched out “In God We Trust” from above the word ONE. I couldn’t believe it!
Personally, it made me kind of puzzled, and I mentioned it to my co-workers and they made no big deal of it. I said to them, “are you aware that it’s illegal to modify money?” After a brief conversation about the subject I thought to myself, “Is what I just said true?”
So this weekend I looked for some legal facts and here is what I found. read more…
If your house is like mine you have family visit and it looks like a barren, tornado-ravaged wasteland all rolled in to one. I love my family, I really do, but when they come to town it always feels like they eat us out of house and home. Instead of the normal and somewhat frugal lifestyle my wife and I usually practice, they drag us along to where they tend to live, which is on the other end of the spectrum. read more…
The following is an interview with LaMar Alexander who runs the website SimpleSolarHomesteading.com and is well-known for his 14×14′ home that he built for under $2k. He’s written several books on living off the grid and living a minimalist lifestyle. He also has a large collection of homesteading YouTube videos – some garnering over 1 million views.
Have you always lived so frugally/minimally? What was your life before living in a 14×14 cabin?
I had two very different lifestyles before building the cabin. My folks were born in the Great Depression 20s and raised 9 kids through 3 wars. I was the youngest. My folks never had much money but they learned to homestead from their folks and we gardened, raised animals, fished and hunted for most of our food. People probably thought we was poor but we never went without anything and our clothes and house was always clean. That is how I learned to build and do for myself because it was expected. Money was for saving for an emergency and you made do and kept things running until they couldn’t be fixed anymore. read more…
Over the last two years I’ve written twice about my great experience (initial review & review after first year) with using Ooma Telos home phone service. For most people that know me, I will frequently tell my friends and family about money savings deals, tools, or devices. The Ooma phone unit is one of those products that spurs the savings excitement in me. I publically admit that I get a little too excited about saving money and finding deals, but you can’t blame me! I guess that’s the true mark of a thrifty guy!
Through the usage of the Ooma phone service I’ve racked up $184′s of total savings after the first year and the savings after two years have netted me a total of $568 in savings! BOOM! The longer I own the device the more my savings stacks up over the life of the phone adapter, because it amoritizes the base price of the unit over the life of it’s usage. read more…
This post brought to you by Dropcam. All opinions are 100% mine.
A new way of video monitoring has dropped into the picture. Dropcam is a Wi-fi video-based home monitor system that provides live streaming and communication options that are easy to install and use. The basic components of a Dropcam system include one or more cameras and any laptop or wireless device to control the cameras and view video footage. As I reviewed what dropcam.com offers, I was impressed by the capabilities, intrigued by the possibilities, but discouraged by the practicalities. read more…
I proudly own a flip phone. I cherish the quirks and hassles it brings. Strangely, it’s part of my identity. For those of you like me, you understand. You laugh at all insults and advice people give you to upgrade into the 21st century. You look to people like Andrew Luck and Jerry Jones for motivation to stay true to the simple pleasures of flipping your phone open to answer and using “T9 method” to text. To the other 99% of the population, you appreciate an upgrade and that’s ok too.
My wife Alli is a part of the 99% that doesn’t mind moving up in the tech world. Over the past several weeks we had been looking together at some options to buy a new or used phone. During our search we came across Glyde, a company that provides a marketplace for buying and selling used phones and electronics. I’d like to briefly explain what Glyde is, how it helped us, and how it may help you. read more…