Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Should You Contact The Authorities?

Claire Wolfe, has a post up at Backwoods Home Magazine about a situation she got herself into. She noticed a flooded house while walking her dog and notified authorities. They came out and took care of the problem but it concerned her that one of the water guys tried to gain access to the house in the process. Would that bother you?

I didn't see a problem with it. In emergencies like that it might make sense, although in that particular case it would seem the damage had been done. It does raise the question, though, of whether it's always wise to call the authorities. I recall one situation where, after all was done, I wished I hadn't.

We had an earthquake here some years ago that caused a fair amount of damage to our house. The City of Eureka offered free building inspections to those who worried their homes might not be safe. I took advantage of it. The inspector came out quickly, looked around and put a green placard on the front door. That meant our house was safe for occupation.

After he left I got to thinking and realized he could have actually had us removed from our house if he deemed the house unsafe. It seemed to me we were just as able to judge whether it was safe to be in the house. What if his judgment differed? In hindsight, I realized we shouldn't have bothered calling him. Nothing to gain and much to lose.

That turned out ok after all was said and done, but then we called the insurance company. That involved having them send an adjuster out to the house where she went through every nook and cranny. She found damage we weren't even aware of.

She also noticed little insurance type things- like a blocked door- she felt were safety hazards and reported them to the company. That meant our insurance agent had to come out to the house and reassess our rates. Fortunately, recently retired Janet Holmes found no reason to raise our premiums, but the potential was there. 

Oh, and the damage cost estimate came to just under what our deductible was.

Best to think twice before calling the authorities unless it's a real emergency.
And just because you think you don't have anything to hide or worry about doesn't mean you don't. Reason magazine looks at the case of a guy that spent a month in jail because a drug test kit wrongly detected cocaine in some soap in his trunk. In that case he didn't call authorities, but he supposedly gave them permission to search the car.


At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you live in a wood frame house earthquake insurance is generally not worth it. The deductable is about what is costs to put a house back on its foundation, which I think is the most common eq damage to wood frame homes.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

We don't have earthquake insurance anymore, but I believe our deductible at the time was $6000.00. The damage estimate came in just below that.

I thought I'd read that putting a house back on its foundation cost like $10k or more?

The main damage we had was the two story part of the house being pulled apart from the single story by a bit over half an inch. Also the chimney was trashed and I had to take it down, at least the part above the roof.

The insurance adjuster found all kinds of cracked windows and sheetrock we hadn't noticed.

We ended up dropping the earthquake insurance despite it being relatively inexpensive at something around $160.00 a year. I don't recall why. They might have raised our deductible so high I figured we'd have to take out a loan to make repairs anyway.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling the authorities, is most often a bad idea here in Humboldt. The cops here are ignorant and crooked.


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