Insurance has long been one of those “hate it but need it” necessities of life. Those who sell it are often questioned for their sales tactics and use of the fear and guilt trips. We have been with our life and farm/vehicle companies for over 30 years and felt lucky to have the two agents who represented these companies. Things change though, and people retire.
In January our new life insurance agent started pushing to go over our policies. Standard procedure he claimed, it would be on line and at our convenience. When told we are happy with our coverage so no visit is necessary, he still pushed, eventually admitting the real reason: we are now of “a certain age” so need policies to cover funeral expenses. Aha!! He was told we had decided long, long ago that we wanted no visitation, no wake, no church service, no funeral procession. Just straight to the crematorium and bury the ashes, a cardboard box (we both hate seeing beautiful wood buried to rot). A good friend had his ashes placed in an antique saltine cracker tin and buried – it seemed perfect. Therefore, no exorbitant funds would be required. Never heard from the new agent again.
Then our auto insurance policy rose. What happened to the reduction due to less driving during this pandemic? Also our five vehicles (2011 to 1996) and flat bed trailer are all a year older? Two have only liability insurance on them and none of the four drivers on the policy have ever had a ticket, let alone an accident or made a claim in the over three decades we have been with them. A solemn voice said that there had been increased accident claims across Canada in the past year which the company had to pay for. Really? This deserved some research!
Accidents across Canada are down 50% or more due to people working from home and not traveling because of COVID-19! He said this was what their head office had told them. Do they think their customers are stupid? No offer to reduce the premium unless we removed coverage on something.
Next was our farm insurance… and it shot up well over $650 per year, again with no claims and no changes. We do their electrical inspection of the barn every five years and in 35 years have had one warranted claim.
About 10-plus years ago, a freak, rainless thunderstorm blew over and lightning hit an ancient elm under which some cows were standing. You could see the burn mark as it travelled down the tree then jumped to the back of a cow, skipped across to the two others, then carried on to the ground about 20-feet away. Its path was scattered with bits of bark and scorch marks. The “specialist” I spoke to then first insisted that a thunder storm had to have rain to include a lightning strike and then questioned whether the thunder had scared the cows and they had heart attacks! Seriously? All laid out, one behind the other with burn marks in their backs and in the tree?
I sent about 30 photos, showing every detail I could find. Let her be disgusted by some, I thought. Miss Specialist decided it was suspicious and wanted a vet called in on Monday (this was a Saturday morning) to confirm the cause of death. We explained the cows were about 60-feet from a main, paved road, in plain view of hundreds of passing vehicles each day, some of whom would question three very bloated cows by Monday. We would put up a sign at the road stating XYZ Insurance company was waiting for the vet for an autopsy. She called back quickly. Claim approved. Bury the cows!
Now, this new “specialist” explained premium increases were up because of more barn fires, which they paid claims on, hence the increase. Isn’t this what underwriters are supposed to prevent? No comment.
Again, research showed that this statement was not true … just what insurance companies are claiming. As the number of farmers drop, so do the number of “commercial” barns (to differentiate between full time farmers and hobby farmers). Trouble is that most of these massive barns are full of computerized and automatic everything. It is all expensive so the claim amounts for them have risen by leaps and bounds. If underwriters are not doing their job ensuring adequate premiums or insurance for replacement cost, then everyone else has to pay. And, again, no offer to reduce premiums but we were told we could reduce coverage or raise deductibles to lower the cost. We did a bit of each.
Researchers claim that these insurance ploys are to raise profits now before we all are back on the road. All I know is that we don’t like it and now have decisions to make. Did your premiums go up too?
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.