FARMERSMUTUAL(FMBC)SUX.COM

Posted on February 1, 2020

'Steam'
LOGHOMESINSURANCE SUX.COM     FARMERSMUTUAL(FMBC)SUX.COM     'Steam'

FarmersMutualofBurnetCounty(FMBC)sux.com

123 N Washington St, Fayetteville, TX 78940

                                          "An Ode to FRED ROBERTS, INSURANCE MAN"   'Hypocrite'  

When it comes to being insured
it's easy to get lured
but all the smarmy
will drive you barmy
when you end up getting manured.

I've tried to talk to Fred
but he hides in the shed
it's kind of funny
'cos he loves your money
until a claim goes in the red.

There was an old codger who thought
since his clients never fought
you could nickel and dime
and waste their time
and never once get caught.

But when you tick off a writer
you might have unleashed a blighter
'cos he's mad as hell
and expresses it well
and makes an ugly fighter.

Dear reader,

Are all Insurance companies HONEST? Fair on claims? Never known to cheat on claims?

How about the story I read in the paper, of two home owners in New Orleans?  Neighbors. Lost their homes in hurricane Rita. Total loss. Both had their insurance claims denied. They compared notes. One had storm and wind insurance, but no flood insurance. He was told (claim denied) the loss was due to a FLOOD. His next door neighbor (insured with the same company) had flood insurance, but no storm and wind protection. He was told (claim denied) the loss was due to high WINDS.

Well, if you are considering insuring YOUR valuable home? Take a few minutes, and read on.
   
Below, I will quote factually from the web page of an insurance gentleman by the name of FRED ROBERTS.

He's an INSURANCE company owner. License Number and details are as follows:

Fred A Roberts  123 Washington St.  Fayetteville, Texas 78940.  License # 868845

Because I want YOU to make up your own mind, on the subject of my experience at his  hands of dealing with MY CLAIM, (a fire in a rent house, caused -I was told- by the tenant's PRINTER going on fire), I shall provide YOU with all the claim details, photographs, time intervals, and methodology that

Mr FRED ROBERTS, INSURANCE MAN, License # 868845,

deems appropriate, moral, and ethical. In his world. Then, I'll give you MY side of the story. And allow YOU to decide for yourself, who's in the right here. And then you can ask yourself the million dollar question:

Would I insure my house with this fine, upstanding, devout Christian man?

Here's a photo of him. 'SmileyCam'  Copied right off his website, LogHomesInsurance.com

Fred Roberts sure pours on the charm
with lots of sugar and smarm
but you'd better beware
of his scam and snare
before you come to harm.
When the broker sides with the client (!)    'Yes'
it's not just ME that's defiant
but Fred doesn't care
he skulks in his lair
with delusions of being a giant.

Kind of inspires confidence, does he not? Just a good old Texas boy, from Fayetteville, Texas, who can be relied upon (according to his website) to 'do things other insurance brokers won't'. Now I DO happen to AGREE with that part, as you will see later, but NOT in the lofty, wonderful sense that HE means it. 'Fly'

I liked this bit, where he, very modestly, humbly, writes:

Our business is based on a few simple rules to follow:

God First

Family Second

Church Third  

Well, that's… downright inspiring, isn't it? I'm far from being an Atheist myself, (maybe not quite into the "I'm a Holy Joe – you can trust me" weepy-weepy, strut & pose stuff) but there are two bibles in my house. One is a King James. The other a modern "Good News". Both are well worn, even battered a bit. Passages underlined, and highlighted.

Anyway, I've set the stage. Now you've seen HIS photo.  How about me? I'm just an old boy. Retired commercial pilot. Fixed wing and helicopters. Had a stroke in December 2015.
For extra retirement income, I own rental houses. Bad idea. Eight of them. Eight bad ideas. On November 29th, 2019 one of them caught FIRE. There is heavy smoke damage throughout the house, and it is quite unlivable as it stands. You'll see the photos later. So, naturally, I was anxious to expedite settlement and repairs. I'm losing $750 a month income.
I told them I was anxious to get it repaired. In retrospect, I wonder if that was maybe my smartest move.

So we got a quote for repairs from a reputable company, "Servpro", and the amount was: $6,217.76.
They did tell me that there was a CAVEAT. Namely, if they discovered MORE damage during repairs, which was quite possible, there could be additional billing. I understand that. Perfectly normal. It's such a mess inside there. Drywall pulled down, etc. Until they get properly stuck into it, there may be other problems lurking.

We got that quote. Passed it on to Farmers'Mutual/FMB of Fayetteville, Texas. Delay, delay. More delays. Then (eventually) it got REJECTED by insurers. I only found THAT out when Servpro called me. Nobody from Farmers' Mutual Fayetteville/FMB Insurance bothered themselves to contact me. I don't actually recall EVER receiving ONE SINGLE PHONE CALL from them.
And this is where it starts getting more and more, well, off-the-wall WEIRD.  'Steam'

I'm an old boy, been around the block, and I pretty soon felt I was getting PLAYED. Like a fish on a line. Things just don't add up. Oh, don't get me wrong, they play the rod well.
If you didn't shake yourself, you'd think they were doing you a BIG FAVOR.

So, here's how it went down.  Follow how it all neatly unfolds. Real smoo-oo-ooth.

1)  insurance company is in no hurry. Nobody returns phone calls.  'Noooo'

2)  insurance company is in no hurry. Nobody returns phone calls.  'Usehead'

(etc, etc)  (I'm losing $750 a month, and I have a new and anxious tenant standing by wanting to rent it)

3)  I'm expecting a check for $5,217.76 (I have a $1,000 deductible), and an understanding that the contingency CAVEAT (if more damage is found during repairs) will be honored.

Well…. Basically, no, and HELL, NO.  'F***You'   'Headshake'

4)  I EVENTUALLY get this call from the independent surveyor they use. I still can't get a phone call back from Farmers' Mutual/FMB, the insurers themselves. I have left messages, messages, up to FIVE A DAY, but the claims manager WILL not return my calls.  
The independent surveyor talks to me real nicely. Lowers his voice. All sympathetic.
I start smelling a rodent. With body hygiene issues.
(Well, hell, I'll play along. If you think I'm just a doddery old fart, who doesn't know his elbow from his lower spine Monkey tail vertebrae, then that's okay with me). 'Yes'

This is HIS story. I'm NOT getting a check for $5,217.76.  The claim is DENIED.

"What?", I say.  "It was a FIRE. I'm fully insured for fire!"
"Well", says the surveyor, "No, not really. This was not a NORMAL fire."
"What?", says I. "What the hell IS IT then? It sure BURNED & SMOKED a lot?!! I could have lit my cigar off it! Warmed my feet? Toasted marshmallows!
What the hell are YOU calling it then??"

"Well, Sir, it's VANDALISM."
"And I'm sorry, Sir, your limit on VANDALISM is $1,000!"

I was gob smacked.
"WHAT vandalism! First I heard of THAT! I thought the Computer PRINTER went on fire! It's all melted to Kingdom come! So is the power cable! You've seen it with your own eyes! We've got the photos of the charred power cable!"

Okay, so, let's pause there.
Numbers time.  To cut a long story short, this is how it went.

Me:  (wants $5,217.76 + CAVEAT)        
Insurance:  "all you're getting is $1,000, NO CAVEAT"
Me:  "Balleaux! Rhubarb! Poppycock!"  
Insurance:  "Tough!"
Me:  "How do you figure it's VANDALISM??"
Insurance:  "Printers never go on fire."
Me:  "The hell they don't! It's got 110 volt going to it. Anything that's POWER going down the wrong path, can and will CATCH FIRE!"
Insurance:  "No, it can't. Not with a printer. Mr Fred Roberts has a friend in the computer business, and the friend says they can't go on fire."

???

Now, dear Reader, watch the numbers. Remember the rod. Fish on a line.
Here comes the play…  Ever been fishing? If you try and reel 'em in too quick, you break the line, right?
So you got to let the fish kick and exhaust himself, right?

Insurance:  "On this occasion only, by way of SPECIAL consideration, one time only, one-off… Mr Fred Roberts will go to $2,800. That's it. Final offer.

Me:  "NO!"  I don't do well on the end of a fishing line.

Okay, stop there.

Me: (wants $5,217.76 + contingency CAVEAT)  Insurance: $2,800 and NO CAVEAT

I already told them "NO!", That I wouldn't accept it. Well, get this!

They sent the check ANYWAY. $2,800!  Cheeky b*st*rds!

I'm supposed to do my fish-quivering-on-the-line thing, SWALLOW THE BAIT, run to the bank, and forget the whole thing, right? But I'm thinking something else. Dark thoughts.
Like:
*** Did you guys PLAN THIS ALL ALONG, I WONDER?
*** Is that how you made your filthy lucre, Mister Roberts?

Hell, no. I won't cash it. I want to speak to the Claims Manager, or HIS BOSS, Mister Holy Roller, Jesus-loves-you, Fred Roberts.
I kid you not:  WEEKS GO BY. NOBODY RETURNS MY PHONE CALLS. I CALL 3 to 5 times A DAY.

I'm getting mad. I tell the in-between-man, the insurance broker, the poor guy between me and the underwriter, I'll sue. (He actually completely supports me. Says that in 40 years in the insurance industry, HE's never seen anything like it). But before I do that, I'll produce a detailed written breakdown of where we stand, in the hopes we can peacefully resolve this issue.
I'm getting sick and tired of that hook stuck in my mouth, and Mr Fred Roberts, God's Insurance man, self-described Church guy, License # 86845, casually yanking on it.
Whenever he fancies a bit of sport.

When the broker sides with the client (!)    'Yes'
it's not just ME that's defiant
but Fred doesn't care
he skulks in his lair
with delusions of being a giant.

So I produce a written REPORT, attached to this page further down.
You can READ it, if you wish. I thought it was fair and balanced. It references the hand-written 'report' of the Fire Chief, which report is ALSO attached underneath my summary-report.

Dear reader, I submit I was trying to reasonably solve this problem.
I spent hours on it.
Judge for yourself.  It's a LONG report, if you want to read it, feel free, but it is long and VERY DETAILED.  It was a sincere attempt by me to cut the Gordon's knot.

Did it achieve anything? Hell,no. It was reported back to me that Mr Fred Roberts, License # 868845, simply LAUGHED. This is a man I have NEVER been able to even get ON THE PHONE. Not ONCE. He thought it was FUNNY. And reportedly said words to the effect:

1)  "That's great! He's given us his entire legal argument. Stupid. That makes it easy!"

2)  "You can tell him, if he sues, we'll appoint the best and most expensive attorneys in Fayetteville, and we'll sue him right back. Then we'll go after him for the legal costs!
Just tell him that!:

(Nice fellow, eh?) You can tell he values his customers, eh? Really looks after them. 'Noooo'  

Well, let me tell you something:

Before you pick on this laddy
you might just check with your Daddy
there's only one rule
I kick like a mule
but then I was born a Paddy.

So here I sit, February 1st, 2020, with a useless rent house that burned WAY back November 29, 2019. Losing $750 a month. And if it's up to Mr Fred Roberts, that's MY problem, not his.  I submit, the question is: that kind of nickle-and-dime-haggling is that how HE made his money?  How many times have you pulled this stunt, Mister?  And gotten away with it?
WHERE IS THE PROOF THAT IT'S VANDALISM? There is none. The only 'PROOF' he can offer is a buddy in the computer industry, who says printers never go on fire. I'd guess ANY household appliance, from a color telly to a toaster, from a wide screen TV to a refrigerator, from a laptop to an I-phone, can and WILL (cheerfully) go on fire, if something shorts OUT. It's not the PRINTER, or the TV, the refrigerator, or the stupid TOASTER…. themselves. It's the ELECTRICAL POWER running to it, that decides (hey-ho!) to run somewhere where it's not supposed to run. It's called by a technical term, that nobody at FMBC(TX) seems to have ever heard of:

An ELECTRICAL SHORT

   

I'm baffled (and so are an increasing number of people I have spoken to, including in the newspaper and insurance industry) how this super-holy character can award himself such a breath taking latitude of discretion, to come to a (convenient) decision that it's 'VANDALISM', WITHOUT any PROOF.  
NO sign of matches, lighter fluid, any accelerants, forced entry, or any signs of willful arson. No matter! Fred has solemnly declared it Vandalism! Knickers!

If you read my statement, be sure you ponder Part 10. I submit:

A home owner insured by Fred Roberts can be in SERIOUS TROUBLE, if his house is a TOTAL Loss, and Mr Fred Roberts decides, USING HIS WIDE SELF-GRANTED POWERS OF DISCRETION, (on a whim it seems), (no PROOF required) that it's VANDALISM. You would get a check for $1,000!
And, according to the Internet, 21% of house fires in the USA ARE vandalism, involving arson!  If my house had burned down to the ground, I would have been f**ked.

Here's a check for $1,000! Have a nice day!  'Grin'

WHAT KIND OF INSURANCE COVERAGE IS THAT?  YOU ARE ONE PRETTY CYNICAL, COLD DUDE, MISTER FRED ROBERTS!   

I have now spoken to a RAPIDLY GROWING number of people in the insurance industry.
For a claim to be downgraded to "Vandalism", everybody agrees there needs to be SOLID PROOF.
Mr 'Holy Roller' says there IS proof. As follows:

1) His buddy in the computer business. Who says electrical printers never go on fire.
2) The Fire Chief's report saying there was no socket behind the printer.

He conveniently IGNORES everything else. Won't discuss it, won't take my phone calls.
Won't pay up, either.

THAT is his 'proof. WE (plural) say that's flat out NONSENSE. Just dirty politics.
Our reasons:
The tenant lady herself said, in front of the Fire Chief and my staff the next day,  (see my statement) that:
**** she was using an extension cord
(duh! Have you never heard of one of those, Mister Fred Roberts?)
**** she had noticed that the printer seemed to be 'sparking a bit'.

The Fire Chief's report states in his report (see below) that the first responder Fire Men reported:

"Fire fighters notice flames coming from back room from printer on dresser."

Mr Fred Roberts just casually, well, IGNORES all those inconvenient bits!
Like a fat emperor, sitting on his throne, dispensing judgment on the lower, lesser mortals!
Sitting on his wallet, I guess.

Until I'm stuffed in the hearse
I'll cling real tight to my purse
my name is Fred
I take it to bed
and you can have the nurse.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

(letter from attempting to resolve issue)

Without Prejudice   Jan 6, 2020

1. I have now had the opportunity to look at the 'report' of the Fire Chief, whose men responded to the house fire at my property at 920 Midlake Drive, on 11-29-2019.

2. For clarity's sake, I have arranged my comments in sections as follows:

3. Initial impression of 'Fire Report'
4. Timeline and Omission
5. Closer examination of 'Fire report'
6. Speculation runs riot & a matter of latitude & turning pirouettes
7. On vandalism, ghosts and ghouls
8. Smoke Alarm
9. Bottom Line
10. 21% of fires in the US are arson or vandalism
11. Intent and relations with underwriters
+++++++++++

3.  Initial impression of 'Fire report'

The initial impression of the 'Fire report' is not good. I do appreciate the Fire Chief is a busy man, and a volunteer. I am grateful for his dedicated assist. I therefore do not wish to be unkind. But I would have expected a typed report. Instead we have a patently ad-hoc, handwritten job, in poor grammar, with lines liberally crossing out sentences, and additions untidily inserted. In my many years as C.E.O. of a freight forwarding company, dealing with litigation involving high value insurance claims, often consisting of perishable produce (meat, fish, etc) in the $80,000 to $100,000 value range, I have never seen anything on this basic level. It undermines the value of this rough, note-form document.A further very important weakness is simply that it is clearly not a 'first responder report'. It's a second hand, post-event, narrated report. Containing speculation. Meaning, it wasn't the Fire Chief who rushed into the smoke filled house. He is merely going on what he was told by the actual fire fighters, one of whom  had to be later treated for smoke inhalation. But before I go into detail examining the questionable fare that he thus leaves us with, I must insert a critical weakness:  Timeline and Omission.

4. Timeline and Omission

The fire was on 11-29-2019. However, crucially, there was a meeting at 920 Midlake Drive the following day, on 11-30-2019. In attendance were five persons:
Fire Chief  (!)
Mr Chris Williams (tenant)
Mrs Tracy Williams (tenant)
Mark Weaver   (helps me manage these houses)
Jennifer Hill   (helps me manage these houses)
During the conversation, Mrs Williams stated (and very honestly admitted) a number of important issues:
*** she was regularly using the printer, with an extension cord. (this takes care of the usage, and no socket being beside the printer)
*** she had noticed that the printer seemed to occasionally “spark a bit “. (her words)
Not thinking too much of it, because it worked just fine, she nonetheless took the sensible precaution of disconnecting the extension cord after each use.
*** On the day in question, of the fire, she said she had been in a hurry and forgotten to disconnect the extension cord.
*** Her husband was leaning in the door apparently, and (sympathetically) said words to the effect of “Well, I guess you accidentally started the fire then! “
*** And her reply was along the lines of:   “Yes, I guess I did. I'm really sorry. “
Now I would have thought that the Fire Chief would have backed up his cursory report of the previous day, with an additional record of THAT crucial meeting. For whatever reason, he did not.

5. Closer examination of “Fire Report “

So we already have looked at the multiple weaknesses of the Report. I now wish to focus in on the fact that it was a second hand report, based on what he was told afterwards by his people.
“Fire fighters notice flames coming from back room from printer on dresser. “
Very specific. What is the FIRST thing you would do, if you were a fire fighter and you thought the printer was on fire? Disconnect it! Disconnect the power source! I submit that is exactly what he did. Pulling the extension cord out and throwing it away. Then dealing with the fire.  I am a trained fire fighter. I'm not speculating.
The rather airy-fairy speculation then comes in later. Wholly contradicting the sentence I quote above, we read:
“There were no signs of cause of fire. Printer had no power cord long enough to reach a power source. No electric outlit (sic) near printer, or wires behind wall from printer (sic). “
Well, this is obviously wholly corrected by the tenant's admission the next day, that she was using an extension cord. Case closed. Do we need to go further with this? Affidavits from Mark Weaver and Jennifer Hill?

6. Speculation runs riot & a matter of latitude & turning pirouettes

Can't say I'm too ecstatic about Claims Manager's actions here. Coolly ignoring the critical phrase in the Fire Report from the First Responders ( “Fire fighters notice flames coming from back room from printer on dresser “), Claims Manager prefers the post fire speculation by the Fire Chief.
( “There were no signs of cause of fire. Printer had no power cord long enough to reach a power source. No electric outlit (sic) near printer, or wires behind wall from printer (sic). “)
Well, you do know we still have the melted power cord, right? Burned to a crisp. See photos. We submit the first responders were correct.
( “Fire fighters notice flames coming from back room from printer on dresser “)
We have the physical evidence.
Next thing, we have a pretty amazing pirouette taking place. It's judged to be no longer an accidental fire. Demonstrating a truly wide latitude of discretion, it's now become “vandalism “. Which carries a limit of $1,000 on coverage!

7. On vandalism, ghost and ghouls

So what does that even mean? I see two possibilities:
A) a young teenager, home alone, is expecting his mother home any minute. She's normally there, but he doesn't know her car has broken down. Are we to believe he decides all-of-a-sudden:
“What the heck. Let's burn the house down! “
??
And then he runs in and out in a panic, trying to find his puppy? It's possible, but it seems extremely, off-the-charts unlikely. Oh, and he also manages his impromptu arson so cunningly, there is ZERO sign of accelerants or matches?
It's possible that he is a crime fiction fan, but I doubt it somehow.

B)  What then? A mysterious stranger? A ghost? Who sneaks into the house? Without being noticed by the teenager? Or barked at by the dogs? Who then moves quietly down to the far end of the house, surreptitiously lights a fire, and glides away, unseen by all?
I'm happy to run both those scenarios past a judge, but I'm pretty sure he'll be more focused on this:
*** ( “Fire fighters notice flames coming from back room from printer on dresser “)
*** The 'confession' meeting the next day, and
***looking at the burned and melted printer power cord.

8. Smoke alarm

The Fire Report mentions “no smoke alarm “. Not in the bedroom, maybe. I don't know if that got hauled out in the confusion of the fire fighting, or not. They ripped part of the walls and ceiling down, remember. Regardless, the Fire Marshall confirmed in a meeting with Jennifer Hill that there WAS a working smoke detector immediately outside, in the hallway.
He complimented her for that, and stated he would have had to levy us a fine of $140 had there not been one. We received no such fine.

9. Bottom line
I have a site visit and quotation bill from Servpro for $1,183.87. I have to pay this regardless.
They emailed me an estimate on top of that for $5,033.89
Total:  $6,217.76
That is the amount I'm looking for.
Respectfully, I see absolutely no justification to fend me off with a check for $2,800. I will not cash it, or accept it.

10.  21% of fires in the US are arson or vandalism
This is a figure I got off the Internet. It comes as a cold shower to me, that:
A)  my coverage left me with a $1,000 limit for 21% of likely causes of fire!!
B) FMB Claims manager wishes to exercise such truly wide latitude in applying a convenient verdict of 'vandalism'.
What if the house (which is paid off, worth $65,000 plus) had burned down to the ground?
Cause:  ghost or ghoul?
“Here you go, chum, here's a check for $1,000 “…??
Clearly I have some serious revision to do with our coverages! In some ways, I feel I dodged a bigger bullet here.

11. Intent and relations with underwriters

I have no wish to needlessly go to Deathcon 1 or start World War 3. I would much rather have cordial, sensible coverage and positive relations with underwriters. If we have to, we have to pay more to be properly covered.
I'm also interested in what coverage our tenants could acquire.
So I'm willing to work with you. But please make no mistake:
I feel very, very strongly about this one.
It's not even a huge amount of money. I would litigate it myself, because legal costs would dwarf the amount. It would be one of those “minimum 30 hours at $200 an hour, and $2,000 down jobs. “
Good luck. That's why I avoid litigation if I possibly can.
But I'm not inclined to back down one millimeter on this one.

Sincerely,

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fire Chief report – Page 1

Fire Chief report – Page 2

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on February 8, 2020, 9:40 am


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