Interesting story in the WashPost yesterday: Insurers are washing their hands of high-risk areas. With 2006’s hurricane season predicted to be as bad as 2005’s, your friendly Allstate man is saying, “You know, I never liked Florida.” You’re on your own, guys. No more homeowners’ insurance for you. Or rather, you can have a little bit, and let’s see if we can’t get your uncle to pick up the rest.
I don’t know what to think of all this. When I was in college, Los Angeles suffered a series of those apocalyptic winter storms that sends houses plunging down hillsides. Of course, to own a house on a hillside in the first place you had to be rich, and so I was confronted with the puzzling cognitive dissonance: Now you must feel sorry for Linda Rondstadt and Marvin Mitchelson. Poor babies, they’re homeless. My L.A. boyfriend at the time explained it all to me: “They build in unsafe places, enjoy the amazing views for however long it lasts. Then the house falls down, the government declares the neighborhood a disaster area and they get money to rebuild at 3 percent. And they make their next house on the hillside twice as big and wait for it to fall down in a few more years.”
I have no idea if this cynical take on things is true, but I think it’s probably true at the heart — well-to-do people can always game the system.
This is interesting: As companies raise premiums, shed customers and battle homeowner claims in hurricane-damaged states, an overhaul of the industry is being promoted by an unusual coalition. It includes Allstate and State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. as well as a bipartisan group of state regulators, academic experts and former homeland security officials. They propose establishing a greater role for the federal government in backing up new state catastrophe funds or private insurance firms when losses exceed a certain level, toughening state and local building codes and increasing premiums to accurately price risks. Some also want to potentially pool the high costs of covering perils such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and even floods into regional or national groups to ease consumer cost, and to use some money to help improve first responders and local preparedness.
A greater role for the federal government. I wonder how many of those waterfront property owners vote Republican.
So how was your weekend? Mine was fine. Didn’t see “Akeelah and the Bee” — I was put off by a tepid review, but will probably see it if the next opportunity coincides with a rainy day. We spent much of a fine weekend outdoors, and I have the Rudolphian nose to prove it. Every year I tell myself to be more on the ball, sunscreen-wise, but in April the sun still feels like a gift, something to turn your face up to happily, rather than something to hide from, chemically or otherwise. Kate has joined a soccer league, so I spent much of the weekend watching her play. I guess that makes me a soccer mom. Minus the minivan. So be it.
Didn’t see “Brokeback Mountain,” either. For the fourth straight weekend, the B’buster was fresh out. Who knew there was such an audience for this chick flick? We compensated with “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” and ‘A History of Violence.” The former wasn’t as good as I hoped, but Julianne Moore was, as expected, wonderful. And it was nice to see a toxic, dysfunctional family situation presented honestly, even when it existed in that golden time when no families were toxic or dysfunctional — the 1950s. There’s a scene with the family’s priest, who comes over to offer marital counseling after a physical argument in this impoverished, alcoholic household, that reminded me, again, of my old L.A. boyfriend. He use to take me to Ohio University’s Hillel on Sunday mornings, where we had a fine all-you-can-eat lox-and-bagels brunch for some criminally low price. The rabbi would table-hop, and after one excruciating conversation I expressed wonder that a man entrusted with leading a flock would be so uncharismatic. “They don’t send the A-team to Athens, Ohio,” he said. When the priest regards this shabby household, and his response is to tell the single person holding it together that she needs “to make a better home,” it occurred to me that the Catholic church probably doesn’t send its A-team to Defiance, either.
“A History of Violence” was fine, too. Why doesn’t Viggo call? It’s not like he can’t find me.
brian stouder said on May 1, 2006 at 10:38 am
Forget Vigo –
I wanna hear from Anna Nicole Smith, now that she has prevailed in the United States Supreme Court (those guys seem to have a predisposition for odd birds from Texas!)
mary said on May 1, 2006 at 11:03 am
Not all of us living on hillsides in LA are rich, honest. Some of the sliding houses are the victims of richer, bigger, more stupidly built homes uphill from us.
And Viggo used to live down the street from me when he was married to Exene. As you know. Fat chance he’ll call you when I tell him what you said about the neighborhood.
nancy said on May 1, 2006 at 11:07 am
Of course you know, Mary, that I’m talking about those stupidly built houses. It’s sort of hard to live in L.A. without being on something of a hillside.
I mean like…the house in “The Limey,” with the swimming pool cantilevered over what appears to be a sheer drop to the bottom of Topanga Canyon (or some other canyon — like I’d know). I’m such a flatlander it was difficult for me to watch that scene. How could anyone dare to walk out on that deck when it was SO OBVIOUS IT COULD FALL AT ANY SECOND?!
Michael G said on May 1, 2006 at 11:11 am
Our homeowners insurance was cancelled last month even though we’ve never had a claim. The reason given was that we live in a high fire danger area. Unfortunately that’s true. We live in the woods in Northern California. There is water available and we keep the area clean. But if the big one (fire here, not earthquake) comes it’s ashes for everyone. We were able to secure coverage from another carrier for about the same cost but the idea of the insurance companies cherry picking is scary.
brian stouder said on May 1, 2006 at 11:22 am
The deck in The Limey was indeed eye-catching. Also, the hillside in Sexy Beast (I think that was the name of it) was memorable, especially after a huge bolder comes bounding down it, whooshing right past the protagonist’s head, and splashing into his marvelous pool
brian stouder said on May 1, 2006 at 11:24 am
boulder, bolder, bowler, boll weevil….what the hell
alex said on May 1, 2006 at 11:45 am
Hell, Nance, the Catholic church doesn’t even dispatch a first-rate bishop to these parts. Miss D’Arcy’s latest hissy is with Notre Dame for allowing the Vagina Monologues to be performed on campus. Bitch always has her twat in a knot about something.
Mindy said on May 1, 2006 at 12:37 pm
I’ll be anxious to see if my homeowner’s insurance increases after making a claim. While I was out on Friday a couple of someones kicked in the front door and helped themselves to the TV, stereo, and DVD player. They tossed the closets and dressers looking for my tiny bit of bling but didn’t find it hidden in plain sight. The computer survived a smash onto the floor that also knocked the batteries out of a small clock on the desk. It stopped at 10:50. Had I not gone to retrieve my order from the butcher I would have walked in on the party. They stole my peace of mind and my music–my Bose radio is sorely missed after three days without it–but they didn’t destroy anything. Even my dog was unharmed and, amazingly, kept in the house. The security system guy is coming this afternoon and I have hopes that my insurance doesn’t increase too much after a system is installed. But at least we’ll still be able to get insurance.
mary said on May 1, 2006 at 1:53 pm
You need a more intimidating dog, Mindy. I’ll loan Max to you. 140 lbs of Great Dane/Boxer goofiness, but scary looking.
Dorothy said on May 1, 2006 at 2:01 pm
Oh Mindy, I’m so glad you weren’t hurt and anything seriously damaged at your house (i.e. the walls are all still standing, right?)! How scary for you!
Danny said on May 1, 2006 at 2:06 pm
Nance, I had high hopes for History of Violence, but was disappointed with the editing. I mean, who the hell needs to see partially exploded heads in detail? Definitely wierd editing choices.
For everyone not living in a major city and lamenting the absence of a decent priest/bishop, be glad you are not in L.A. Cardinal Mahoney is a real piece of work. Hiding all of those pedophile priests for years. Some think his pro-illegal stance has something to do with a desire to insure his priests have continued access to steady flow of young children.
At least Boston got rid of Law.
mary said on May 1, 2006 at 2:12 pm
Mahoney’s pro-illegal stance is about the only thing I can think of that I admire about him. He objects to the Sensenbrenner law’s provision for prosecuting those who aid illegals. Mahoney isn’t for opening the floodgates. He just doesn’t think the church should get in trouble for aiding illegals when they are here, as in giving them food or shelter. I agree with him. Anyway, the church doesn’t need illegals to supply little boys. They get plenty of domestic victims.
nancy said on May 1, 2006 at 2:14 pm
That is very bad news, Mindy. My sympathies.
Man, electronics are so cheap these days, you’re better off hijacking a truck. What could a DVD player fetch from a fence these days? Not bloody much, I’d imagine.
Danny said on May 1, 2006 at 2:19 pm
He objects to the Sensenbrenner law’s provision for prosecuting those who aid illegals.
I’m extremely skeptical of him. At best, I think this a wag-the-dog sort of ploy that he is using to divert attention from the newest findings that he did NOT release all of the records.
We can’t even get the government to enforce existing laws with employers of illegals. Mahoney has very little to fear from any bill that is passed by Congress.
mary said on May 1, 2006 at 4:06 pm
Woo hoo. My son’s public high school made Newsweek’s list. Ok, it isn’t in the top 100, but 381 in the country isn’t bad for a public school in LA.
ashley said on May 1, 2006 at 6:37 pm
Insurance companies need to insure everyone or no one. Period. Anything else is discriminatory.
wade said on May 1, 2006 at 9:10 pm
Mindy – your new alarm system should offset (a tiny) part of your homeowners’ increase – we have ’em even though we live in a ‘safe’ area, just for that reason.
MarkH said on May 2, 2006 at 1:25 am
Ashley, are you serious? Can you explain how that would work without the system being bankrupted in no time?
4dbirds said on May 2, 2006 at 10:21 am
Congrats Mary. Placing anywhere in the top 1000 is cause for community celebration. My daughter’s high school is ranked at 130. It has a large Hispanic and Black population. It is also in a wealthy county that pays teachers well. Having a community commitment to public education pays off. Sending your children to private school in my county is frankly a waste of money.
JohnD said on May 2, 2006 at 10:21 am
Nancy. One word. Netflix. No more annoying trips to Blockbuster. Access to great movies (indies, documentaries) the rental stores never have. You’re able to get almost any movie ever made and the discs actually play without skipping. Try it.
brian stouder said on May 2, 2006 at 11:45 am
In my (vain) search for any school in our area on the list, I saw a Grosse Pointe one approx 100 places higher than Mary’s.
I found it interesting that they included the percent of subsidized lunches per school in the matrix. I didn’t read the methodology they used for ranking the schools – but the E and E% and so on gave me flashbacks to the time I took a day off work and participated in our school’s Quality Improvement Team.
Suffice it to say – downtown can absolutely bury you in statistics and percents and ratios, for all manner of things; in fact, that was just the idea. They took a bunch of schlubs like me, and mixed in a few teachers – and then literally stacked reports and abstracts in front of us, and asked us to see what relationships we could divine (noting things on index cards and taping them onto the walls as we progressed)
An interesting process….once
basset said on May 2, 2006 at 10:44 pm
my son’s public high school was number 43… and another in our local system was 39th. didn’t see any of the white-flight suburban schools around our city in there anywhere.
harry near indy said on May 3, 2006 at 7:18 am
regarding bernard law … didn’t he more or less escape to the vatican one step ahead of the sheriff?
iirc, i don’t think vatican city, which is a sovereign nation/state/country/whatever, has any extradition treaty with the u.s.
Danny said on May 3, 2006 at 9:33 am
harry, I don’t recall him being in any legal trouble (wow). I think Bostinians basically had the guy run because they were’nt going to put up with him anymore