Monday, September 3, 2007

Fire Insurance

I solemnly wear that this is 100% true. I am not making any of it up. I typed this up minutes after completing the phone call because I didn't want to forget it.

We rent a little apartment over the fire hall. In other words, when I go downstairs to do laundry, I walk past a covered pickup truck with a medical sign on it (the town ambulance), and a tiny fire truck.
After we moved in, I called our insurance company to sign up for renters insurance. We owned a home in Utah before we came up here. When we moved, we rented out that house, so we switched from homeowners insurance to something called a ‘fire policy’ (meaning that it protected the actual house, but not the contents, since the contents were not ours). In order for them to provide that policy, however, the company insisted that they also provide our renters insurance. So, as soon as we got settled in, I called them to set it up.
I gave the agent all the information, and he said he would run the numbers and call me back in thirty minutes.
An hour later, he called. “We can’t cover you,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we can cover classes 1 through 9, but you are a class 10…” [here began a long explanation which may or may not have been in English]. “So, we’re not going to be able to provide renters insurance for you. Our underwriters just won’t do it. Do you think maybe you can find a company in your town that could give you coverage?”
“This town has a population of under 200 people. I’m pretty certain there’s no insurance agent here.”
“Is there a larger city nearby where you could go?”
“Well, Juneau is about 90 miles away…by seaplane. I really don’t have access to any larger cities.”
“It sounds like you’re pretty remote then…that’s what the problem is with the underwriting; they’re concerned that in the event of a fire, you’re too far from the nearest fire department.”
“Yes, there’s no fire department near you, so that makes you a higher risk.”
“Our apartment is over the firehouse.”
“Our apartment—it’s built over the firehouse.”
“Oh, like a volunteer fire department?”
“I’m sure it is, but in a town this tiny, it’s not like it takes long to get anywhere…and, as I said, we LIVE at the firehouse...if the bell rings, they all come straight here. Furthermore, we live in a rainforest, and there is ocean on three sides of the building. I don’t think fire is much of a risk to begin with, and if somehow one managed to break out, I don’t think it would get very far.”
“Hmm, that is very interesting. You know, let me give that additional information to our underwriters. We may be able to work this out.”


Anonymous said...

Hahaha life in rural Alaska is really difficult for some people to understand.

Bryan R. Terry said...

Okay, that is just too funny! If you were to write that exact same exchange in a piece of fiction, it would be deemed "too ridiculous" and not "true to life!" It also reminds me of the Steve Martin movie Roxanne where Martin (the fire chief) comes into the fire station to find one of the wastebins on fire.

Anonymous said...

Too funny! let us know what happens!

(I just posted as anonymous since I don't have a google account or webpage.)

Jennifer said...

Oh man! That is dang funny! Insurance people... I tell ya they are weirdos!

WhiteWave Jewelry said...


"Excuse me, my house IS fire insurance!"

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