Tell me if I'm being paranoid



  • So due to Chase* fucking up epically, I need to shop for new homeowner's insurance. I got a quote from 2 companies that was in the $1100 range. Both of them bitched over the wiring in the house (it has an active fuse box; the fact that the fuse box is behind a normal breaker doesn't matter, having an active fuse box on its own is considered a hazard. Frankly, I can kind of see where they're coming from, since 90% of fuse boxes have oversized fuses in them, but anyway...)

    So I get quote number 3 from Safeco, using their online insurance quote tool. The tool doesn't ask me anything about the electrical, plumbing, or roofing of the house, and they quoted only $580.

    Is Safeco just really that good? Or are they going to come back in a month and raise my rates/cancel my account? It's making me paranoid-- their offer definitely verges into "too good to be true" territory.

    *) Really I should blame WaMu for fucking up, since I wouldn't even be a Chase customer if WaMu hadn't fucked themselves in the first place.



  • I'm not sure if it applies in the US, but I expect so: see uberrima fides. You probably have a duty to disclose any material fact, or the insurance contract will be invalid if you try to claim. Of course, it also depends on the small-print details, but in general you need to tell your insurers that kind of thing. It's likely, though, that the cheaper quote is only valid for a certain subset of potential purchasers defined somewhere obscure.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     You're legally obligated to tell them about your shady-assed wiring whether they asked or not. Some shadier insurance companies will just not ask, and then when you make a claim, if they find that there was anything in the house that negatively affects their actuarial tables, deny the claim and cancel the account whether it was related or not. Really, though, it shouldn't cost more than a couple hundred bucks for an electrician to yank the fuses and drop in a breaker box. Correcting the problem would likely be cheaper than paying any premium cost.



  • @Weng said:

    Really, though, it shouldn't cost more than a couple hundred bucks for an electrician to yank the fuses and drop in a breaker box.

    He'd also be legally obligated to add a ground to the circuits, which means he'd be fishing cable through walls and redoing every single outlet. The existing wiring may or may not be knob-and-tube (honestly, I don't know), and if it is, that makes the fishing three times harder than if otherwise. I don't think I could get it done for under $1500.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Weng said:
    Really, though, it shouldn't cost more than a couple hundred bucks for an electrician to yank the fuses and drop in a breaker box.

    He'd also be legally obligated to add a ground to the circuits, which means he'd be fishing cable through walls and redoing every single outlet. The existing wiring may or may not be knob-and-tube (honestly, I don't know), and if it is, that makes the fishing three times harder than if otherwise. I don't think I could get it done for under $1500.

    There are still houses with ungrounded circuits!? Jesus, man. The last time I saw one of those was in the creepy part of the deep south, and the highest-tech thing they had was a lamp.



  • @Weng said:

    There are still houses with ungrounded circuits!? Jesus, man. The last time I saw one of those was in the creepy part of the deep south, and the highest-tech thing they had was a lamp.

    It's a 1927 house.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    He'd also be legally obligated to add a ground to the circuits, which means he'd be fishing cable through walls and redoing every single outlet. The existing wiring may or may not be knob-and-tube (honestly, I don't know), and if it is, that makes the fishing three times harder than if otherwise. I don't think I could get it done for under $1500.

    Yeah, we looked into getting an electrician to replace our breaker box (a brand from a company that went out of business, and has a rep for fires), and IIRC, the best quotes we got were in that range, or maybe a little higher even. Either way, a lot more than "a couple hundred bucks," though with today's construction market being what it is, you might be able to find an electrician desperate for work. But my wife found some place on line where we can get compatible breakers, so that particular upgrade has moved down in the queue since we replaced the broken GFCI breaker.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    So due to Chase* fucking up epically,

    *) Really I should blame WaMu for fucking up, since I wouldn't even be a Chase customer if WaMu hadn't fucked themselves in the first place.

    It's OK to blame Chase. I forget the circumstances now, but Chase fucked up with one of my accounts about 12 years ago, and I refuse to have anything to do with them if I can at all avoid it.


  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Weng said:
    Really, though, it shouldn't cost more than a couple hundred bucks for an electrician to yank the fuses and drop in a breaker box.

    He'd also be legally obligated to add a ground to the circuits, which means he'd be fishing cable through walls and redoing every single outlet. The existing wiring may or may not be knob-and-tube (honestly, I don't know), and if it is, that makes the fishing three times harder than if otherwise.

    I'm not sure what you actually mean by an active fuse box - and nor is google, apparently - but I'd have to say that if your electrickery isn't grounded, then the insurance premium is the least of your worries. House fires, I can tell you from experience, are very much not nice things. Even if you're well insured, it'll never pay the full cost, let alone the emotional cost, stress, and so-on.

    I don't think I could get it done for under $1500.

    Tell you what, I'm so pissed off with potential employers buggering me around that spending a week or two rewiring your house is starting to sound like a nice holiday. Throw in a plane ticket and you have a deal :)



  • @intertravel said:

    Tell you what, I'm so pissed off with potential employers buggering me around that spending a week or two rewiring your house is starting to sound like a nice holiday.

     

    It'll take you a lot longer than a week or two to do that job, I'm afraid.  It took me several months to rewire my house and it was gutted at the time.



  • I would be prepared for a bait-and-switch.  Many insurance companies will give you their best rates when using online tools but then modify the rates base on your individual data.  Hopefully, they ask you the important stuff before they issue the policy.  Otherwise you may get a letter of cancellation after they come and do the home inspection.



  • @intertravel said:

    I'm not sure what you actually mean by an active fuse box

    I mean a fuse box with power actively going through it. As opposed to a fuse box that's been wired-out of the system in favor of breakers and just sits on the wall because nobody bothered to remove it. (But, as I said, the fuse box is wired behind a breaker.)

    @intertravel said:

    electrickery

    ha ha ha you are a hilarious comedian of hilarity I am so laughing ha ha

    @intertravel said:

    House fires, I can tell you from experience, are very much not nice things. Even if you're well insured, it'll never pay the full cost, let alone the emotional cost, stress, and so-on.

    Considering how much crap I have to go through owning this house, this insurance shit, mortgage shit, PUD fucking up my power bill shit, Frontier fucking up my telephone bill shit-- at this point I think I'd actually prefer dealing with my house burning down.

    That said, it's been here since 1927 and it hasn't burned down yet, so I'm pretty much calling it good. Fuses and ungrounded power was the standard in the US for, what, 60 years? And somehow, *somehow*, we managed to survive as a civilization. So you'll forgive me if I don't run around in circles panicking.

    @intertravel said:

    Tell you what, I'm so pissed off with potential employers buggering me around that spending a week or two rewiring your house is starting to sound like a nice holiday. Throw in a plane ticket and you have a deal :)

    Are you a licensed electrician in Washington State? That's kind of necessary.



  • @frits said:

    I would be prepared for a bait-and-switch.  Many insurance companies will give you their best rates when using online tools but then modify the rates base on your individual data.  Hopefully, they ask you the important stuff before they issue the policy.  Otherwise you may get a letter of cancellation after they come and do the home inspection.

    Yah. I had a friend just sign a Safeco home policy recently, so I'll ask him how the process went... the online tool didn't mention in-person inspections like the 2 competing tools, but I can't imagine they don't do one. (But it's weird to let me check out without asking me to consent to one, isn't it?)

    Frankly, if they raise the rates I don't mind-- as long as it's not significantly more than the other quotes I received. If they drop the policy, then I'll be pissed.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Are you a licensed electrician in Washington State? That's kind of necessary.

     

    In my state, you just have to be the homeowner.  Although, some townships limit the monetary size of the job a homeowner can do.



  • @frits said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Are you a licensed electrician in Washington State? That's kind of necessary.

    In my state, you just have to be the homeowner.  Although, some townships limit the monetary size of the job a homeowner can do.

    Yes, it's pretty standard to allow a homeowner to maintain his own dwelling, but it's fairly clear to me that intertravel doesn't own blakerat's house.


  • @boomzilla said:

    @frits said:
    @blakeyrat said:
    Are you a licensed electrician in Washington State? That's kind of necessary.

    In my state, you just have to be the homeowner.  Although, some townships limit the monetary size of the job a homeowner can do.

    Yes, it's pretty standard to allow a homeowner to maintain his own dwelling, but it's fairly clear to me that intertravel doesn't own blakerat's house.

    I actually wasn't aware of that.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Considering how much crap I have to go through owning this house, this insurance shit, mortgage shit, PUD fucking up my power bill shit, Frontier fucking up my telephone bill shit-- at this point I think I'd actually prefer dealing with my house burning down.
    @blakeyrat said:
    @intertravel said:
    Tell you what, I'm so pissed off with potential employers buggering me around that spending a week or two rewiring your house is starting to sound like a nice holiday. Throw in a plane ticket and you have a deal :)

    Are you a licensed electrician in Washington State? That's kind of necessary.

    Tell you what, I'm so pissed off with potential employers buggering me around that burning down your house is starting to sound like a nice holiday...@blakeyrat said:

    it's been here since 1927 and it hasn't burned down yet, so I'm pretty much calling it good. Fuses and ungrounded power was the standard in the US for, what, 60 years? And somehow, somehow, we managed to survive as a civilization. So you'll forgive me if I don't run around in circles panicking.

    I wouldn't suggest panicking. But from what you've said, you're talking about something which will pay off in reduced insurance premiums inside a decade. Going by the basic numbers, it suggests the insurance co's think the risk is around 20% lower with modern wiring, and you're basically getting that free. That's aside from the fact that you should rewire more than once every 90-odd years - I don't know if it's been rewired in between - and that power usage has changed drastically since your house was wired for three lightbulbs and a single-bar fire, or whatever.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    Yeah, we looked into getting an electrician to replace our breaker box (a brand from a company that went out of business, and has a rep for fires), and IIRC, the best quotes we got were in that range, or maybe a little higher even. Either way, a lot more than "a couple hundred bucks," though with today's construction market being what it is, you might be able to find an electrician desperate for work
    Huh. I was party to the replacement of an industrial building's (actually, a 1930's car dealership cum 1950's clothing factory cum 1970's abandoned building cum 2000's warehouse) fusebox with a breaker box. All the circuits were already grounded back to the fuse box, so it was just a matter of disconnecting all the wires, ripping the fuse box off the wall, mounting up the new box and reconnecting the wires to the new breakers. About two hours and $1000 - most of that was in the material (there were a TON of circuits). Was the first quote we got (we didn't bother trying to find anyone cheaper because the landlord was going to have to pick up the tab by law anyway)



  • @Weng said:

    All the circuits were already grounded

    Do you see how your situation is different than my situation?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Weng said:
    All the circuits were already grounded

    Do you see how your situation is different than my situation?

    Yeah, yours aren't grounded. I'm directly addressing the replacement of the (presumably grounded) breaker box I quoted.



  • @Weng said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    @Weng said:
    All the circuits were already grounded

    Do you see how your situation is different than my situation?

    Yeah, yours aren't grounded. I'm directly addressing the replacement of the (presumably grounded) breaker box I quoted.

    But... but... that's not the situation anybody in this thread (except you, apparently) is in.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    But... but... that's not the situation anybody in this thread (except you, apparently) is in.
    See the Boomzilla post I originally quoted for that. Essentially similar situation, in terms of what needed to be done.



  • @Weng said:

    There are still houses with ungrounded circuits!?
    Yes, old houses are old.

    Some of my outlets are grounded, some are not.  I know which ones are, and I don't put grounded plugs into them.  It's fine for phone chargers and clock radios.

    My house is 100 years old, though.  

    Additionally, if they don't come out and inspect your house before signing the policy, I would imagine they'd just deny any claim you make because they'll sure as hell inspect it after a claim and most likely find things they would have found before.

    With regards to the age of your house and "if it hasn't burned down yet," that's dangerous thinking IMO.  Electric usage isn't the same as it was when your house was built.  Knob and Tube would still be a good system if usage had remained what it was. 

    BTW I'm no electrician but I've watched enough Holmes on Homes to learn a thing or two.



  • @Weng said:

    There are still houses with ungrounded circuits!?
    In 2005 I bought a house that was built in 1950.  Completely ungrounded.  Cost me about $2000 but that included some other work too.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @Weng said:

    There are still houses with ungrounded circuits!?
    In 2005 I bought a house that was built in 1950.  Completely ungrounded.  Cost me about $2000 but that included some other work too.

    Out of curiosity, was it knob-and-tube? If so, was it plaster or sheetrock?



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @El_Heffe said:

    @Weng said:

    There are still houses with ungrounded circuits!?
    In 2005 I bought a house that was built in 1950.  Completely ungrounded.  Cost me about $2000 but that included some other work too.

    Out of curiosity, was it knob-and-tube? If so, was it plaster or sheetrock?

    No, it wasn't knob and tube.  Walls were plaster.

     


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