Homeowners insurance canceled because of tree
DEAR BRUCE: This past spring, a nasty storm came through, and my front porch was damaged by limbs that fell from a tree in my front yard. I filed an insurance claim, and all was well.
Last month, I received a letter from my insurance company that said my policy would not be renewed unless I cut down the tree. Can the insurance company do that? It’s a large tree and will cost me thousands to get it cut, and the insurance company won’t even help me with that cost. — Reader in Ohio
DEAR READER: The insurance company is covering you to the end of the policy, and it has determined there is a risk on your property that has dissuaded it from continuing coverage. I can’t think why the insurance company would share in the cost of removing the tree, any more than it would help correct a structural defect, in order to continue insuring your home. I think your choice is to get rid of the tree or find a new carrier, which may not be so easy to do.
DEAR BRUCE: In your columns, you have often stated that you don’t recommend carrying collision insurance on older cars because the cost far outweighs the value of the car. I used to believe as you do, and I stopped paying collision insurance when my cars became 6 to 8 years old.
Then we were in a serious car crash that was not our fault. My family was injured. Our insurance carrier left us with no question that we would be completely on our own when it came to collecting any claims: “You don’t have collision; we can’t help you.”
While I recognize that this was the deal that was struck when I stopped carrying collision, we felt betrayed and like we’d been left hanging by a big-name carrier. We wound up hiring an attorney. We think it would have been easier and cheaper if we had carried collision insurance all along. — Reader in New Mexico
DEAR READER: I’m sorry you had these problems. But understand that although it might have been easier, it certainly would not have been cheaper over the years had you carried collision on an old car. It is a poor buy by any counting method you choose to use. Further, if your injuries were severe, you likely would have had to use the attorney anyway.
I still think collision insurance on a car that’s worth less than $3,000 is throwing away money.
DEAR BRUCE: I am 33 years old. For the last several years, I have pretty much been the only one in my family who helped out my grandfather. I took him to the store and the barber. Any personal things that had to be done for him, I either did them on his behalf or took him. He always told me he would take care of me in his will.
Last year he met and married this woman. He was so happy, and I was so happy for him. Two months ago, he dropped dead. Now that his will is being read, I find that nothing was left to me, but everything to his new wife. Is there anything I can do to get what my grandfather promised me? — Reader, via email
DEAR READER: There is not a thing that I can think of, unless you can demonstrate that your grandfather acted under duress from his new wife. That may be difficult, particularly given the fact that, as you say, he was never happier.
Unfortunately, Grandpa has left you out in the cold. Whenever older people promise younger folks that they will be remembered in their wills, the young folks should take that with a large grain of salt, as often it doesn’t come to pass.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Smart Money, P.O. Box 7150, Hudson, FL 34674. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns.