Home & Garden Columns

Restoration Comedy: Serf’s Up

By Jane Powell
Tuesday July 20, 2010 - 07:40:00 AM
Jane Powell

Well, apparently people outside of Berkeley do read the Planet online. After my last column I got an email and a phone call from someone in NACA’s Online Operations department, offering help. Of course it’s all been phone tag since then, but maybe he’ll be able to help. I did speak with a NACA negotiator last Friday, who reopened my file, but of course now I have to fax two forms I’ve already faxed previously, because apparently they start to stink like dead fish after ninety days, or something.  

She also told me that at the Save the Dream event in DC, I needed to get in line early. Asked to define early, she suggested “the night before.” I guess it’s all part of the many indignities in the process. But seriously- do you think in the internet age there could be something like first come-first served online registration, or they could hand out wristbands like they do at the Apple store when a new I-Phone comes out? Apparently not. Or do you think they could provide a checklist of the documents you need to bring with you? Because I won’t exactly be going home to my house in suburban Virginia to get anything I forgot. The good thing about the event is that at least the lenders won’t be able to claim they didn’t get the paperwork, and as the negotiator said, they won’t be able to run away. 

I’ve been doing a little online research into the whole HAMP mortgage modification scam, and apparently the new horror is lenders rescinding “permanent modifications” on completely flimsy excuses, demanding back payments and huge fees, and then foreclosing. This after using the temporary modifications to ruin people’s credit and put them even further into a hole they can never get out of. It’s turned into a really ugly world- we’re no longer citizens, the elites just view us as serfs. It’s indentured servitude- to the corporations. They want us desperate and in debt, willing to take any job at any wage they care to pay. 

And speaking of hateful corporations, the only corporations I hate more than banks are insurance companies. When I bought my house, the only insurance I could get was through Lloyd’s of London. No one else would take me because my house has “GASP” knob-and-tube wiring. Now, knob-and-tube wiring in good condition, that hasn’t had any funky modifications done to it, is perfectly safe. But insurance companies have set themselves up as the arbiters of what is allowable- in fact, the building codes are largely driven by insurance companies, who have made a study of how people injure themselves in houses, and how to prevent these injuries. They are not interested in preventing injuries and death because they care about human lives- they are interested in preventing injuries and death so they never have to pay claims. So insurers have refused to insure houses with knob-and-tube wiring, in some cases they have refused to insure houses with galvanized plumbing, and have even refused to insure houses on which there had been a previous insurance claim, even if it was something like a tree falling on the house during a storm. And of course you know that they have a database, and that if you call your agent to inquire about making a claim, even if you don’t actually do so, it goes into the database as a claim, possibly causing your rates to go up. And God forbid you actually make a claim- that will cause your rate to double. Insurance has turned into nothing more than legalized extortion. 

Anyway, I thought I’d give it another try, that maybe I could get another insurer to take on my house, and maybe save a little money. So I called a local agent, said I was looking for a homeowner policy, and wondered if knob-and-tube wiring would be a problem. She said no, worked up a quote, and sent someone out to take pictures of the house. Then I didn’t hear anything for a couple of days. When I finally called to see what was happening, I was told the underwriter had a problem with my unpainted trim- that it was “unprotected” and did I have any plans to paint it in the near future? I explained that it had been unpainted for 105 years, was not intended to be painted, and no, I was not going to paint it. I think they were just looking for an excuse not to offer the policy. Back to Lloyd’s of London. 

Jane Powell writes for the Planet whenever she feels like it. Enjoy it while you can, and contact her at hsedressng@aol.com.