LAFAYETTE — Sometimes the insurance you buy — home, car or health — doesn’t give you the protection you thought you had, especially after a hurricane.
I made two major mistakes when Jo Ann and I renewed our homeowner’s insurance and when we first purchased long-term care insurance in 1998.
If it’s homeowner’s insurance, stick with the 2 percent rather than the 5 percent deductible like I did. When buying long-term care insurance, take the lowest elimination period you can get. There was a 100-day elimination period on the long-term care insurance we purchased, and we should have made it a shorter period.
The older we got, the higher the premiums we paid for long-term care protection. You would think the longer you lived the less likely you would need that insurance coverage for a long period of time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
When my wife needed the long-term care insurance, we had to pay for the first 100 days Jo Ann was in an assisted living facility. When she transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation care, Medicare paid the tab. The government health care insurance also paid for her hospice care.
The long-term care insurance eventually paid a pittance when compared to the total costs involved. Then along came Hurricane Laura, which ripped off the front part of the roof of my home and caused interior water damage.
We lost some roofing when Hurricane Rita hit this area in 2005, and covered it with tarpaulins fast enough to prevent interior damage. Our insurance experience then and now — with the same company — is totally different.
Our local agent in 2005 told me he couldn’t write a check right away for more than $2,500. So he wrote me two $2,500 checks. We had $5,000 to take care of living expenses during an evacuation that lasted about three weeks.
We had to keep receipts for all of our expenses, but we had the money up front. This time, I am strictly on my own because of that 5 percent deductible that totals $9,855.
My son got me a hotel room in Baton Rouge for three days and his wife then got the loan of an apartment from a friend where I was able to stay. Now, I am in a Lafayette hotel and paying my own expenses.
When I asked about hotel expenses, a spokeswoman for my local agent said the company had to first be sure my damages were more than the $9,855 deductible. It appears they will be, but I’m on my own for now.
“Just be sure and keep all your receipts,” she said.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not headed to the poor house. I can handle all of my living expenses away from home with no problem. However, outside of sending an adjuster to my home, my insurance company has left me to do all of the preliminary work.
My agent gave me an approved list of general contractors, roofers and other construction companies. I’ve called them all, but was only able to speak to three and they are tied up at the moment. No surprises there, but all I can do now is sit and hope somebody gets back to me.
My roof is covered with a tarp, but I’m not sure if it will keep out a heavy rain. Meanwhile, I’m expecting that dark-looking mold to start showing its ugly face in my dining room, in the attic and goodness knows where else.
Living there could be a hazard even if we had electricity, but that could be weeks away.
My neighbors across the street and around the corner and friends have much worse situations to deal with, so I can definitely sympathize with their problems. Some of them haven’t even seen an adjuster.
Yes, this was a monster hurricane that has destroyed much of Lake Charles, but there are many thousands working to give us electricity and other services.
What I’m having a difficult time understanding is why we can’t get more help from our insurance companies. My son-in-law and best friend have USAA insurance coverage and their company has put money in their banks to cover the expenses they have already incurred.
So far, I have gotten more help from friends of my family members and a Little Caesars truck parked in front of a Ryan Street shopping center than I have received from my insurance company. We were driving by that truck Tuesday after working hard at two of our homes and they gave each of us two large free slices of delicious sizzling pepperoni pizza.
Then, it was back to Lafayette to wait and hope to hear from some of those contractors I called. You would think they would have at least called back and given me some idea of whether they might be able to help.
I may also lose my hotel room Saturday and have to start scrounging around for living quarters somewhere else.
Life at age 86 isn’t supposed to be this complicated. Thank God my family is looking out for my best interests or I would be in real trouble.