"Our house, in Lake Placid, NY., sits on the top of Signal Hill. There has never, ever been a flood in the area. To carry flood insurance would be the last thing a homeowner would think off. Your insurance company, however, thinks otherwise," I wrote to the chairman, president and CEO of one of the largest insurance companies in the country.
I explained that during this year's harsh winter, when the temperature at night dipped to 40 degrees below zero, the sewer pipe, buried under our driveway, froze and broke. During the spring thaw, water leaked into the basement trough the foundation. The sump pump went into action. Due to the broken and plugged sewer pipe, the pumped water poured out from the bathroom toilet.
Our caretaker called the plumber, and after much effort and expense, the sewer line was fixed and the driveway resurfaced. The damage caused to personal property, by the water back-up, was considerable.
Upon returning to our summer home, I have immediately submitted my claim to the local representative of the insurance company. He forwarded it to the head office. Next day, I was called on the phone by the adjuster handling the claim. He interviewed me, and subsequently, our plumber.
The following day, the adjuster called again and in a very polite tone informed me that his insurance company is rejecting the claim, because all the damage was due to what is called a "flood" and it is not covered by my "deluxe" policy. Although my policy clearly states coverage for "water back-up" with limits of liability to $5,000.
A few days later, I received a letter from the supervisor of the claim adjuster, restating the reason for the rejection of my claim. My reaction was to proclaim that someone at the insurance company is trying to "wash his hands in the dirty water of the sewer line."
As a last resort, I wrote a letter to the head of the insurance company, stating that I have been a client of his company for many decades, carrying home, condominium and car insurance, and have never submitted a claim. I pointed out that I consider the rejection of this claim arbitrary, unjust and taking refuge in the small print of the insurance policy. I expressed hope that he would look into the case and his company would do the right thing.
My claim was assigned to another adjuster, who investigated the circumstances. Shortly, I was informed that my claim was approved and I will be compensated for the damage, to the full extent of my insurance coverage. The check was "in the mail."
There are some lessons to be learned from this case. The first, if you own property, carrying insurance is essential. The second, you can fight city hall and win.
Our return to the "old hunting grounds" in the Adirondack Mountains, once used as the site of a summer camp by members of a hunting party of native Iroquois Indians, prompted several of my readers to ask, how is life, changing there.
As I have reported in the past, life in the "sticks" has its special pleasures that even a "flood" insurance episode can't spoil. I still make my 3-mile hike every morning in the constitutionally guaranteed "forever wild" New York Forest Preserve. We still have our coffee klatches with friends at one of the picnic tables at the John Brown Farm, a historic site, and read a good book while relaxing on the shores of Mirror Lake.
The turmoil in the world seems to be distant, as long as you avoid TV news, don't read the papers or don't communicate on the computer. But who manages to do that? Not, me.
Frank Shatz lives in Williamsburg, Va. and Lake Placid. His column was reprinted with permission from the Virginia Gazette.
Shatz to speak at local Book Group July 15
Author and Lake Placid News columnist Frank Shatz will be giving a talk for the local Book Group at 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 15 at the St. Eustace Episcopal Church, 2450 Main St.
Shatz will discuss his book, "Reports From a Distant Place," which was published in 2012. The public is welcome to attend.
"How many of us have met a Holocaust survivor?" asked Book Club publicity chair Judy Shea.
The book is about life in the shadow of death. It is a unique portrayal of survival during the Holocaust, by hiding in plain sight. It is also about living dangerously under the Red Star of communism behind the Iron Curtain. The last chapter, "In America," is about hope and a reinvented life.
Shatz and his wife live in Lake Placid during the summer and Williamsburg, Virginia, in the winter.