One advantage of living here on the Ordinary Plains, we are constantly reminded, is that we need not spend a fortune keeping a roof over our heads. Only once a year, though, are we reminded that maintaining that roof will cost us dearly should anything happen to it, and something almost certainly will happen to it. Oklahoma City used to be the unofficial capital of Tornado Alley, and reports that the Alley is packing up and moving eastward are going to have to become a lot more numerous before that title blows away.

Map of Tornado Alley, based on actual number of funnels reported

As with most things in life, a tradeoff is involved. The county taxes the palatial estate at Surlywood, where I have lived for the last fifteen years, to the tune of about a thousand dollars. But insuring the place costs much, much more, and major outbreaks of anything will make your insurance that much more spendy. I have had almost no tornado damage in those 15 years; however, a hailstorm one Sunday in 2010 that might have cost me a couple of percentage points of my hearing took out almost every roof for several miles. Replacement was just this side of ten grand.

More or less from that moment onward, deductibles became bifurcated; things that aren't storm-related fall under the usual $1,000 deductible, but wind and rain and hail are now under a separate rider which, in my case amyway, is two percent of the amount of dwelling coverage, which, for my $138,000 house — neither the tax man nor Zillow think it's worth that much — works out to $2,760. There have been years when the annual insurance premium was more than that.

This isn't one of them: my insurer has dropped the premium for two years running, though not by enough to make me jump for joy, and not by enough to persuade me to throw away the counteroffers that are mailed to me about this time every year. I got two of them just yesterday. Company "A" says they'll cover this place up to $175,000 for a mere $1,400. Company "B" cut even lower: $116,000 coverage for just under a thousand dollars. Company "C" did not send a quote, but I receive about two dozen letters from its agents every single year, so I have to assume they're willing to deal.

But then, my first policy on this property was through "B," and I'd dropped them the year before Big Hail for its giddy excitement at upjacking the premium three years running. Their current offer is actually less expensive than their actual 2008 policy. So I have a pretty good idea of how long this price point will hold. Meanwhile, my current insurer, while having no qualms about emptying out the escrow account, has at least provided decent service over the past decade, and I am loath to give that up for a handful of Benjamins. Still, this is what I go through every fall, what every homeowner out here goes through every year, and by now, we're pretty much used to it.

The Vent

#1083
  1 November 2018

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