Learning to negotiate

The renewal for my home insurance came in the mail last week. For the record, I pay my house insurance every six months.

Because I’m reasonably organized, I pulled my house insurance file, with my last renewal notice and price, and my notes on my phone conversation with the insurance agent from last September. Then, I opened up my handy-dandy budget spreadsheet to see what I had budgeted for home insurance.

What I quickly determined was my trusted insurance company was telling me (in this ever so subtle way) that they were putting my rate up by 35%. I’m a non-smoker and claim free. I make a reasonable living, and on top of that, I have a part-time job just to try and stay ahead of the eight-ball. Frankly, I’m a little put-off that this company just sends along a notice, no explanation, and would like 35% more please.

Honestly, where do these guys get off? I guess they figure we, the consumer, are too dense to notice? Perhaps lots of people just open the bill and figure “oh, that’s the price” and don’t ask questions, compare with their last bill and they pay it. Despite my reasonable income, I really don’t need my expenditures going up by 35%. I don’t have a cushion now!

Naturally, I called the insurance company. I asked the agent “what’d I do to cause you to put my rate up by 35%” and he gave me some lame answer. I kept at him. Finally he says “it’s the increase in storm activity in North America. There’s an increase in dramatic weather, and the insurance companies are taking a hit, and rates are going up”. Great, so there’s my answer. I’m paying for the Mother Nature’s wrath. At least I can understand that. I don’t like it, but I understand.

I told the agent I’d be shopping around. So I’m in the process of doing that. Not sure if it will do me any good or not.

Last week I was also at the dentist. I don’t have any coverage for this kind of thing. I said no to a few x-rays just because I was told “it would be nice for the dentist to look at them.” Not a good enough reason to have me part with another $150.00. When I was checking out, I mentioned (again) to the receptionist that I didn’t have coverage. Without me asking she offered to reduce my rates. Dentists charge a ridiculous amount. They’re good to bill the insurance companies their ridiculous rate, but when it’s just the consumer, it’s slightly less than ridiculous?

Is all this a service to me when I have to go pay my insurance bill and question why they’ve gone up 35%. Man, it’s a crazy world. I’m starting to think it’s just a matter of pay now, or pay later. We’ll still pay. So I saved $15 at the dentist, I’ll be paying that to the insurance company, plus a bunch more.

Maybe I’m just crabby because I know the end of March is coming, and I’m not likely to balance my budget this month. It’s a drag. I’m disappointed in myself. Still, I can’t ignore the big picture here. I’m budgeting way better than I have in years, I’m not using credit for credit’s sake, I’m paying down my line-of-credit and I’m keeping things going here at home.

Last week has taught me a powerful lesson though – I have to negotiate more. I will negotiate more. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

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