Mutual Insurance Mutually Painful
Farmers' Mutual said it would replace only the southwest part of Graupman's roof but, according to Graupman, the estimate was too low. So, he asked for a second opinion but the same adjuster came up with nearly the same estimate two more times.
Orscheln, who has been contracting for about 35 years, agreed with Keefer Roofing's estimate of $9,000 and TJ Construction's estimate of $9,500. All three estimates more than doubled the estimate of Farmers' Mutual. That's when Graupman asked the Missouri Department of Insurance for help. But, it couldn't because Farmers' Mutual is one of many companies in the state that does not have to follow Missouri insurance laws.
"While they do fall under some jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Insurance, such as solvency and financial examinations, they don't fall under the department of insurance as far as the Unfair Claims Act is concerned," said spokesman Matt Barton.
Chapter 380 of the Missouri Insurance Statute states that all county, town and farmers' mutual property insurance companies are not regulated by the Department of Insurance.
Graupman says Farmers' Mutual should have told him that before he bought his policy.
"As it is, I basically have no choice but to accept their offer," he admitted. "A lawsuit is one option but, by law, they're protected, so we need to change that."
The insurance department said customers should read their policies and ask questions. They also should check lower premiums because they might indicate that company is not covered by the Unfair Claims Act. However, the department also said county mutuals often insure properties traditional companies won't.
If you have questions about your policy, call the Missouri Department of Insurance toll-free, at 1-800-726-7390.
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