23 January 2011

They Don't Want to Pay?

We recently had a bit of water damage in our apartment.  A bit is perhaps an understatement.  The neighbor above us, or rather the rooftop pool of the neighbor above us, had a problem and the pool’s water, as water tends to do, flowed downwards through the walls of the building.  Our apartment lay in that downward path.

It was annoying, yes, massively inconvenient, but these things happen.  Still, for a period of several months, mold blossomed on our walls.  Aside from the obvious ‘disgust factor’, there are health consequences with mold and we had to take all kinds of measures to dry out the effected areas, including industrial strength de-humidifiers that heated the rooms to sauna like levels.  All in all, not fun.

Ultimately, however, it was taken care of.  Taken care of and paid for by our insurance company.  Why it had to be our company is beyond me, since there were three insurance companies involved in this scenario: the building’s (let’s call them ‘Big Guy’) rooftop pool neighbor’s (Big Guy’s Sidekick), and ours (Little Guy).  The battles between the three made me dizzy.  Dizzy, because although we were clearly the victims, Little Guy Insurance ended up paying everything.

It was confusing, yes.  Because you see, the initial assessment of all three Guys was that we were the victims of an accident we had nothing whatsoever to do with.  Thus, Big Guy and Sidekick Insurance should have paid for the damage.  We were supposed to receive a modest amount in recompense for the areas of our apartment that were unlivable and for which we continued to pay inordinate amounts of rent.  But it was not to be.  Big Guy and Sidekick got together, found a new ‘expert’ and decided that they shouldn’t have to pay.  As I said, our company was the little guy.

So Little Guy ended up paying, although certainly not anything to us, because as my agent so succinctly explained “they don’t want to pay.” (What the ????!!!!!!)  They don’t want to pay?  Who does want to pay?  Anywhere, anytime?  I can just imagine walking into Gucci, finding a great bag – and telling them ‘oh, yes, I love it, I’ll take it, but I don’t want to pay for it!  If anyone can come up with a scenario in which this works and non-payer doesn’t get carted off in a strait jacket, I’ll buy and send them a Gucci bag myself.  (Please note: offer not valid for Insurance companies.)

But back to the Guys.  Even though Little Guy didn’t want to pay, he was forced to pay by Big Guy.  Our personal inconvenience was deemed insignificant (we were Miniscule Teensy-Weensy Guy even Little Guy gets to kick).  Still, despite being kicked repeatedly, we did our best to battle all the bad guys for more than a year.  And then, ultimately, we gave up.  It cost more in attorney fees than it was worth.  In any case, we tried to put the miserable experience behind us.

But it wasn’t the end of the story.  Recently, I received a registered letter from Little Guy Insurance Company, informing me that our policy was cancelled.  I had a moment of panic, asking if I could have forgotten to pay the bill (I’m not really the type.)  So I called and was told the policy was cancelled because Little Guy Insurance had to pay the claims from the previous year.  (And don’t forget, the poor guy didn’t want to!)

Excuse me?  Am I missing something here?  Isn’t that why people have insurance?  Why people pay fees year after year, so that if an accident happens, they are covered?  Perhaps I’m a bit naïve, but that’s the way I always understood it.

Shouldn’t this be illegal?  Shouldn’t I run to the Better Business Bureau and report this?  (Oh, wait, I live in Monaco and a Better Business Bureau doesn’t exist.)  But there must be some recourse?  Turns out there isn’t – ca n’exist pas en France ni a Monaco.  Zut! 

It’s not that I had any intention after this fiasco of keeping our policies with Little Guy El Cheatsole Insurance, but I wanted to have been the one to cancel them!  You know, like that great last scene in a movie, when poor insignificant little beaten up and stomped-on Miniscule Teensy-Weensy Guy finally struggles to his feet, bleeding and dazed, and beats the #$%& out of Big Guy and Sidekick!


  1. Dear Alexis, I am totally solidary with your ordeal! Loved the way you described all the sizes of the guys involved. If that would have happened in London, the story would be the following: all the guys (big, bigger, smaller) would be begguing you to let them pay and reimburse you, in exchange to you "inflating" a bit the original claim. They would offer you 50/50 on the profit of the real damage. It's cultural!


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