The Befouled Weakly News

24 January 2010

I swear I was not going to relate the continuing saga of our struggles with our insurance company and their agents regarding the damage to the Annexe shower. Continuing incompetence requires full disclosure, I am afraid.

We all know, I guess, that insurance companies are liars, frauds and cheats. They take your money every month quite happily and assure you of their best intentions and continuing love and affection, when in fact they are out to screw you at the first opportunity. So, what follows will come as no surprise to anyone. (By the way, is there anyone on this mailing list who works in the insurance industry? If so, apologies to you the individual but no apologies, I’m afraid to the industry).

A couple of weeks ago the newish, young tenants in the Annexe came around to report that they had discovered some damp and mould on one of the bedroom walls. When we went round to investigate there was indeed damp and mould on the wall, the other side of which was, naturally, the shower.

So, I contact the insurance company to report the problem – clearly we have a leak in the shower, either in the pipe work or, perhaps more probably, some of the grouting or sealant has cracked.

I guess we’ve all had the misfortune of having to deal with insurance companies at some point in the past. So, it will come as no surprise to learn that their first response on hearing my description of our damage was, “I’m sorry Sir, but that’s not covered.”

On the one hand I was somewhat nonplussed by their initial rejection; on the other hand I was half expecting the initial reaction to be negative because, it seems in my experience, that the initial assessment is always that somehow the insurance doesn't cover precisely what you thought it covered. So, I pressed for an explanation. Apparently, damage which has been on-going is not covered so the fact that the plaster was wet and there was some mould indicated that the problem had been going on for some time and hence would not be covered. The agent even offered to send me a copy of the policy document (naturally I couldn’t locate mine) which she did.

Imagine my surprise to discover on reading the policy document that leaks from pipes and other “equipment” was covered under the policy but, as the agent had pointed out, on-going damage was excluded. I rang back and spoke to the agent again – the policy says that damage from leaking pipes is covered; what we have is damage caused by leaking pipes. How is one to know that one has a leaking pipe until the damage becomes evident which, if it is a slow leak, will naturally take some time? At which point, the agent conceded that this was a grey area and eventually agreed to send out an assessor the next day.

In the meantime, when we thought the insurance was not going to cover the damage we had asked a local plumber to come and give us a quote for removing the tiles, stripping back the damaged plaster, repairing the leak, reboarding the shower cubicle and restoring everything to its once pristine state. The size of his estimate was in the vicinity of the current budget deficit so we were delighted when the assessor agreed that the damage was caused by a leaking pipe and should be covered under our policy.

Now, while this is undoubtedly saving us a considerable sum of money, one is beginning to wonder whether we wouldn’t have been better off organising the work and paying for it ourselves. The insurance company appointed a particular firm to carry out the repairs and this firm has been just about as inefficient as it is possible to be. The phrase "They couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery" was designed, I think, for the manner in which this firm has dealt with our issue. Workmen arrive with no clear instructions – we try to explain what we would like and they then need to telephone their boss who says, “No”, seemingly no matter what the request might be. The company contracted by the insurance company to deal with our claim is clearly interested in spending as little as possible, while charging the insurance company as much as they can get away with. Each worker who arrives explains why he cannot do what we want him to do but only what the repair company authorises him to do. So, we’re back on the phone arguing with the agent again, and again, and again. They even managed to send a tiler out before the shower cubicle had been properly boarded out – even I knew that wasn’t quite the order in which the work needed to be completed.

Still, I think we are getting towards the end of it. The pipe work has been repaired (at our expense, not the insurance company’s because, bizarrely it seems to me, they will pay for tearing everything apart to find the damage and then they will also pay to put everything back again but they won’t pay for repairing the damage or the cause of the issue itself – that’s our responsibility. Now, I have to confess I can see a bit of logic here but when I asked what would happen if I simply did not repair the leaking pipe – wouldn’t they be out here again in a matter of weeks to repair the damage again? Surely it was in their interests to ensure that the damage was repaired properly? No, because that would definitely be on-going damage which they wouldn’t cover).

The shower cubicle has now been properly boarded (again, after considerable discussion about whether they should use water-proof plasterboard specifically designed for showers – “No” was their obvious initial response, until we agreed to pay the difference) and we await the re-arrival of the tiler on Monday. Then, we’ve got to get the plumber back to do the final connections and we (or, in fact, our tenants) will be good to go.

Insurance agents and lawyers – don'cha love ‘em!

As some slight recompense for the rant above, enjoy a photo of the orchid on Ms Playchute's kitchen window sill as well as one of the Christmas hybiscus.

Penny's Kitchen Orchid Hybiscus

Love to you all,


A traveller wandering on an island inhabited entirely by cannibals comes upon a butcher shop. The shop specialized in human brains differentiated according to source. The sign in the shop read:

Actuary' Brains ... $9/lb
Loss Control Brains ... $12/lb
Underwriters' Brains ... $15/lb
Claims Adjusters' Brains ... $33/lb
Insurance Executives' Brains ... $87/lb
Life Insurance Salesmens' Brains ... $146/lb

Upon reading the sign, the traveller noted, "My, those insurance salesmens' brains must be something."

To which the butcher replied, "Are you kidding! Do you have any idea how many of them you have to kill to get a pound of brains?!"

Two insurance salesmen were driving down a country road at high speed and passed a pickup truck with an old couple inside. "Look at those fools, pa! Must be a couple of insurance salesman and they will surely meet their maker soon, I tell you."

Well, sure enough, a little while later the couple comes across a bad accident involving the two insurance salesmen. "Well maw, we got to do what any good folk would do and give'm a decent burial."

So the couple dug a hole and buried the insurance salesman. Just as they were putting their tools away, a cop drives up. "You folks see this accident?"

"No sir, but we knew them dang fools were going to have it when they passed us doing a hunert miles an hour. Well, we finally come across the accident and gave them insurance salesman a decent burial"

"You were sure that they were dead??"

"Well, they said they weren't, but you know how those insurance salesmen exaggerate!"

The other day my house caught fire. The insurance agent said, "Shouldn't be a problem. What kind of coverage do you have?"

I said, "Fire and theft."

Insurance agent frowned. "Uh oh. Wrong kind. Should be fire OR theft."

Apparently, the only way I can make a claim with this coverage is if the house is robbed WHILE it's burning down.

An insurance salesman, risk manager and a safety director are travelling in the countryside. Weary, they stop at a small country inn. "I only have two rooms, so one of you will have to sleep in the barn," the innkeeper says.

The safety director volunteers to sleep in the barn, goes outside, and the others go to bed.

In a short time they're awakened by a knock. It's the safety director, who says, "There's a cow in that barn. I'm a Hindu, and it would offend my beliefs to sleep next to a sacred animal."

The risk manager says that, OK, he'll sleep in the barn.

The others go back to bed, but soon are awakened by another knock.

It's the risk manager who says, "There's a pig in the barn. I'm Jewish, and cannot sleep next to an unclean animal."

So the insurance salesman is sent to the barn.

It's getting late, the others are very tired and soon fall asleep.

But they're awakened by an even louder knocking. They open the door and are surprised by what they see: It's the cow and the pig!

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