Sunday, 5 March 2017

"Many whites of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr            

On Saturday December 14, 2013, my family�s life changed for the worst. I lost my house and everything in it. During the last three years, my faith in God has sustained me. This sort of thing can drive you to want to fly out of your skin into oblivion. BUT GOD. As you will read from other, earlier posts, Heritage Insurance company who was supposed to protect us, turned on us like an auto-immune virus. They went back to an application, which at the time of the fire was three years old. The agent made glaring mistakes and took great liberties in completing and altering the application. Heritage's use of the application is one of the dirtiest in a long list of rotten things insurance companies do so that they don't have to pay claims. Why isn't this illegal? How rampant is this practice?   
It�s an established dirty, little secret that has even been dramatized. Recently, I watched an episode of the �Good Wife�  which shed some light on this dirty, little trick. In that episode, the fetus of a young couple needed a surgery while in vitro. The insurance company fought not to have the costly surgery done. When it looked like they were losing, the insurance company pulled the couple�s application. They asked the husband, �Did you check that box on the application saying that you�re a non-smoker�? The husband said, �Yes�. The devilish attorney asked, �Do you smoke?� and he is not a smoker and said no. Except, they had perused his social media accounts and found a picture of him and some friends on a fishing trip. In the captured pose, he was holding a cigarette in between his fingers. That was enough to charge the couple, as I was charged, with material misrepresentation.  
Other than money, why does the insurance companies engage in such terrible practices.  A recent experience gave me some perspective on the matter. I was at the Homestead Goodwill. There were  young, Spanish-speaking young men in their twenties, and old, white, Spanish-speaking woman, and me (dark and lovely) at the check-out lane. The old woman pulled out the tag from the garments. Each garment is supposed to have a tag. The color of the tag indicates whether an item qualifies for a fifty percent discount. Each month a specific colored tag is discounted. As a bargain shopper, every item in my cart had that discount tag. The cashier shouldn�t have rung the older lady�s items, but I didn�t say anything. When it was my turn, the woman tugged at every tag. I asked, �What are you doing?� she said, �I�m not saying you did anything, but people go into the dressing room and change the tags, I was just making sure.� Her words kicked me in my gut. I hadn�t gone to the dressing room. In fact, that woman knew nothing about me. I had no fight left in me. I left the items on the counter and walked out as the tears streamed down my cheeks. As I sat in my car crying, I realized that when my claim was up for processing, Heritage pulled my tags. No doubt there are a lot of people who would burn their house, kill, and maim for money. However, this is not the case and they know it. Just because a lot of people are committing fraud, it doesn�t mean everyone is committing fraud.  There is no mechanism in the law to protect those of us who aren�t.
What I hoped I have done in sharing the very private struggle of my family with you is that there are people who get hurt when companies control the legislature and thereby tying the courts� hands. Florida law states as a matter of law, which means the judge can't go against this law, if someone appears to lie on an application (which I didn�t---see my earlier posts for more explanation), therefore, the insurance company can cancel the policy and refuse to pay a claim. This is what happened to us. Heritage's denial of the claim and us losing in  court leaves us homeless and bankrupt.  
What can you do? Don�t stay silent. Share my posts. Call and write the law- makers in Tallahassee to let them know we don�t like dirty, little tricks. They need to change the Florida Insurance Agency law. Review your insurance application�consult a lawyer if you don�t understand your application or policy. Demand that the insurance company inspect your property and review your application with you. Don�t trust your agent to do the correct thing or not to make mistakes while processing your policy, so go in person and see what your agent is submitting on your behalf.

If you have a loss, don�t talk to the insurance company without your claim adjuster or attorney present. Get everything in writing. 

As for me, I stand on one promise, For I know the plans I have for you,� declares the Lord, �Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.� � Jeremiah 29:11