The domino effect

Have you ever started out meaning to get *one* thing accomplished, and have it turn into a cascading domino effect? Where the one thing leads to another, and another, and another? Well, that’s basically what happened to us over the last two days–yes, two days, whereas it should be been something done in a couple of hours.

Let me offer this piece of advice–call around and get quotes on your insurance when it’s time for renewal, whether it be car, house, or whatever. Trust me on this. Even if you’ve been with a particular company X number of years, that checking around might surprise you.

Our homeowners policy renewal arrived in the mail, along with their “we’re pleased to offer to continue your coverage for another 12 months”. Excuse me, but WTF? YMMV, but that just struck me the wrong way, like they’re going out of THEIR way to do me a favor. A better phrase would have been “we’re happy you’ve been a long-term customer of ours, and would appreciate your continued business”, or something along those lines. Those “good hands” hadn’t been very good to us looking back over the last three years. When we originally got the policy, they gave us the best quote, but then each year raised that rate between $200 and $400 each time. Oh, and that’s with a no claims discount, a discount for having a security alarm, and a couple of other credits thrown in. When I saw they wanted to raise the rate another $375 this year, I had had enough. So we called around.

A well-known company, “T”, wanted to base their rate on what it would cost to replace the house going by the US average. Well, here in Texas costs are a lot lower than, say, California. It would not take $387,000 to rebuild this house, plus the additional “shipping costs for material” they wanted to tack on. I mean, all the material needed is available right here in the city! Needless to say their rate was higher than the “good hands” people. I thought of several things to say to them, but I refrained.

We called another company, USAA. Hubby is ex-military, so we qualified for membership (even if he hadn’t been in the military before, his dad had been, and we would have qualified just the same). Their homeowners insurance rate was approximately $500 LESS than the hands people for the SAME coverage. So we’re doing the happy dance, right? Well, they mention that if we utilize other services through them, we get discounts for each. (Here come the dominoes).

They have investment services, such as retirement planning, IRAs, annuities, etc. Well, I have a 401K from my previous employer that was just sitting there with them because I hadn’t rolled it over yet. I had the money spread out over several funds, and my ROR was averaging 8 percent, which is pretty decent considering the state of the economy. USAA is known for their excellent investment services, so I started the process of rolling over my 401K into an IRA plus retirement annuity. I was on the phone answering questions for almost an hour so they could personalize my investment portfolio to my risk comfort level. (ROFLMBO!!! Me??? Having a personalized investment portfolio? I grew up *literally* dirt poor–whodathunkit?)

We finally get everything set up, then I have to contact my prior employer to get them to roll it over into the new account. Give them all the info. Now why in the HELL can they NOT send it directly to USAA? They’re making the check out to USAA FBO *me*, but say they have to mail it to me. They know it’s me requesting the transfer–heck, I gave them everything except a butt scan to identify me, but no, they can’t send it directly to them. And they can’t send it in one check, but have to do it in two. Again–WTF??? I print out all the paperwork, fill it out, run it up the street to get it notarized and mail it priority to them. When I get both checks (sent separately), then I’ll have to forward them to USAA.

Okay, now we have a discount on the homeowners insurance for having an IRA with them. They also have car insurance, which would give us an extra discount. And, since the car insurance is up for renewal in two weeks, might as well check it out. So, another hour or so on the phone answering all sorts of questions, and we get a quote for car insurance. They may be great for homeowners insurance, but not so much for cars. We have GEICO, and are saving approximately $600 a year versus other companies for full coverage on our two vehicles. Not to mention, every year we’ve been with GEICO, our policy price has gone down–every single year. Great customer service, too. So, we’re staying with the gecko for auto insurance.

With that information, I go ahead and pay the policy for GEICO. USAA will send the mortgage company the papers for the policy to go into effect in May. We call the “good hands” people and happily inform them we will not be renewing the policy with them. Called the mortgage company and gave them a heads up about the change in insurance companies and NOT to pay the renewal to Rosie Palm and her Five Sisters. And since we were making all these changes and certain companies like to screw their customers, we called our security company to find out about hooking up the alarm through a cell phone/internet system so we can get rid of our land line. Yes, we have a land line through AT&T, make NO calls on the phone, have what they called “measured” service meaning you pay for what you use, and somehow over the past year the bill has gone from 11 dollars to 29 dollars. Oh, and they stopped itemizing the calls, so you can’t see what they are supposedly charging you for. They say they base the charges on the number of phone calls made or received, where they originate from, how long the calls last, what time the calls are generated, etc. As soon as we can get the alarm set up without a land line, I’m telling AT&T to kiss my ass.

There were a couple of other financial items we inquired about through the banks and got taken care of, but by the time all was said and done what started off as “I’ll take an hour and get this taken care of” turned into two days worth of phone tag. In the end, though, we saved $500 on the homeowners policy, and the price on our auto insurance dropped $600 since the boy got his own insurance policy just on his car and is off of our policy. We have a good company watching over my little nest egg–our “coffee fund” as I call it, since hubby’s pension will be the major portion of our retirement income.

Two days. Dominoes. Ugh.

Definitely double check your insurances, though–you might save yourself a nice chunk of change!

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