Monday, June 15

FMAP: Send in the Clowns

PEX in bathroom
If you are feeling bored and lonely because of Coronavirus OR you really need new homeowner's insurance, you can create an account over on the FMAP website and watch your phone, text, and email blow up with messages from new best friends.

FMAP stands for Florida Market Assistance Program. It's supposed to help people in Florida find reputable insurers, since there are disreputable ones out there (big surprise in Florida). The problem is that the Florida website really finds you insurance folks who get quotes from reputable insurance companies.

Think about this. There are maybe 100 insurance companies selling homeowner's insurance in Florida, but for some reason, we also have thousands of people who sell the insurance from that company to you.

My first insurance clown was a State Farm agent who sold me a UPC policy. When UPC decided to drop me, I got a form letter from that company that said I was being dropped for the following reasons:
Failure to comply with underwriting requirements or guidelines.
Ineligible plumbing or electrical materials.

I never got a call from my State Farm agent or UPC or Aaron Rogers or anyone.

My first step, before I went on the official Florida website, was to try Progressive, since I have auto insurance with Flo. She said no, however. The website implied the decision was based on location, like maybe Progressive doesn't subcontract house insurance in Florida. I don't really know.

My next attempt to get insured was by using Nextdoor recommendations, but I tried two insurance companies that didn't get back to me. Plus, all kinds of Boomers on Nextdoor will recommend the insurance company they've had for three decades that no longer offer new policies in the state (and will probably go bankrupt as soon as the next hurricane hits). 

After Nextdoor failed me, I tried searching Google. I got one quote on Zebra for nearly three times what I currently pay. That's when I started to get concerned that maybe my house, built in 2004, had somehow been deemed uninsurable. $2200 for insurance that was costing me about $800?

My next step was to look at resources Florida had available, since I'd seen in my searches that the state had made an effort to help consumers (and insure homes when all else fails). So I headed to the FMAP website, which is about as good as the Florida Connect Unemployment website. The only difference is response time. I waited for more than a month to hear anything about unemployment, but when I filled out my FMAP profile, I received a phone call three seconds after I hit the Submit button. I thought it was some kind of official Florida person confirming my information, but it was really Jose. As I talked to him, my phone kept beeping and vibrating because I was receiving other phone calls, texts, and emails. Suddenly, everyone wanted to insure me. Even after I realized Jose was just the first insurance broker to get through, I stayed on the line with him partially to avoid talking to a dozen other people.

Jose wanted to call UPC to find out why I was dropped. I agreed, and we hung out on a 20 minute call to the insurance company in order to find out I was not renewed based on having PEX pipes in my bathrooms rather than lead or whatever the company prefers. Well, that would have been nice to know months ago, crappy insurance company and pretend State Farm agent. From what I can tell, PEX is supposed to last 40-50 years, so I guess drop people with 15-year-old pipes?

So Jose found an insurer who was cool with PEX and an original roof. For that, I still get to pay double my original policy for the same coverage, partially because rates went up. But I might go with Jose unless my cousin directs me to some other insurance clown who he hangs out with in his financial planning dealings in Florida (and whom I forgot to contact right from the start).

Back to my point, I just have to wonder why we have a Florida system that directs me to brokers or consultants rather than the reputable companies and agents who would (at minimum) tell me why my policy was going to be cancelled. Money? Absolutely, but it just seems like such a waste. FMAP could have sent my information to the 100 insurance companies rather than to all these extra clowns, and I could have gotten competitive quotes from the horse's mouth rather than getting the same offer from Angelo and Jim (Swyft Insurance) but from different consultants. Wouldn't Swyft rather just send me the quote than pay Angelo or Jim to type in a few numbers? And where will Angelo or Jimbo be when I need to file a claim? They probably won't be my best friend then. 

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