Unfortunate Son of American Family

I feel like I’ve been disowned by American Family. (This blog post is going to seem very out of place, but some things just gotta be said.)

I inherited my relationship with the insurance giant American Family from my own family. My parents have used them for years for auto, homeowner, and other coverage. They recommended Overland Park, KS agent Kathy Skahan to me, who is very helpful and friendly. No complaints about her.

So I’d used American Family for years for my auto insurance, and renter’s insurance. Then, in October 2005 we bought a house. So we tapped AF for our homeowner’s coverage as well.

In January 2007 Springfield suffered its worst ice storm in decades. Portions of our roof and siding were damaged, and American Family came out, took a look, and cut us a check. Of course, this was their only option in the fact of cut-and-dried damage from a major weather catastrophe.

But something more insidious was going on underneath. When we lost power for over a week, one of our hot-water pipes (which are used to being nice and toasty) got cold, and apparently, cracked. But here’s the catch: the leak was underneath the kitchen floor, in a crawl space which is virtually inaccessible to human beings. So the very minor leak began to express itself, and we had no idea.

Fast-forward to October 2008. Half of our kitchen floor is sagging, our dishwasher and refrigerator are leaning, counters are separating from walls, and water is leaking ever-so-slightly from doorjambs. Upon investigation, we discover that our crawlspace is filled with steam, to the point that it had been venting up through the walls, and filling a portion of our attic. The floorboards and joists are soaked and rotted, and there is evidence of mold.

We call American Family to come out, since water leaks are supposedly covered in our policy. But there’s one minor detail we weren’t aware of: leaks which persist for a matter of “weeks, months or years” are actually NOT covered. Which means: don’t leave your house for more than two weeks, or you might come back to discover a pipe leak which won’t be covered by your insurance company.

I’ll spare you the ensuing details except to say this: When I was trying my best to get a re-inspect scheduled pursuant to our original storm claim, it took American Family 2 weeks to even get an adjuster assigned, and no one returned my repeated phone calls for one whole week of that. Apparently the supervisor was “out” and his supervisor was “out”.

When I finally did get them to look into it, they spoke very condescendingly and rudely, and acted as if I was inconveniencing them. They seemed angry that I would even pursue this claim.

My question for American Family: What was I supposed to do? What is any of us supposed to do when a leak develops in an invisible, inaccessible part of the house? I’ll tell you what you do: you wait until there’s a symptom, you discover the leak, and you fix it with your own damn money (which you don’t have,) and you continue to pay your premiums like a good little boy.

I’m tempted to apologize for my attitude, but I imagine you’re a grown-up, and you can handle my true sentiments, without the sugar coating.

At any rate… we’re continuing to pursue this claim along more aggressive lines, and I now gag every time I see an American Family commercial about being there when you need them.

Some family.

3 thoughts on “Unfortunate Son of American Family

  1. Ouch. This sucks, Ryan (I don’t sugar-coat either). It is situations like yours that make home ownership a frightening prospect for us. AF’s policy of “…unless it’s been there for weeks, months, or years” is a cop-out. Any leak that has been around undetected that long will always require major repairs and that means mucho money. This policy would be like medical insurance only covering physical problems that can be seen on the outside of the body. RIDICULOUS! Okay, I ranted with you. I’ll pray with you, too.

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