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  • Melanie Ernst

Don't Just Settle or Accept

I was just reading the latest edition of the Madison County (GA) Journal and noticed an article about the Comer Volunteer Fire Department. While I had already been privy to the article info (one of the department members shared this news at church recently), I was happy to see it in the local paper. Volunteer firemen deserve recognition for all they do for their communities. We all know how they give of their time to help save lives and property. What you may not realize (I didn't) is how they can help you save money. Firefighters spend hours in training that helps them help the community and that training can help you receive discounts on your homeowners' insurance. Fire departments, even volunteer ones, are audited by the Insurance Services Office(ISO) and based on their evaluation the departments are rated. These results and ratings determine the effectiveness of the department to fight fires within their area of coverage. Insurance companies use these ratings to determine the premium you pay for homeowners' insurance. Obviously, the better your local fire department rates, the lower your insurance premium. So, thank you Comer Volunteer Firefighters for not only saving lives but helping the public save money as well.

I bet you're thinking, what does that have to do with the title of this article? Well, the fire department article reminded me of some recent experiences I've had involving costs of various goods and services that I've been settling for and accepting.

The first incident actually involves homeowners' insurance. I recently found myself in the situation that is depicted on a commercial where they discuss insurance companies dropping customers or jacking up their premiums because they made a claim. This happened to my family this year. We've been paying insurance premiums for our home for about 20 years with not a single claim until late 2014. Twice my husbands' work tools were stolen from our property and we just couldn't afford to eat the expense so we made our first claim to our insurance company. No problem, or so we thought. Then a few months later, my mortgage payment goes up $300 a month! Yep, you guessed it, my escrow portion of the mortgage was hiked considerably due to a ridiculous increase in our insurance premium because of our claim.

This practice which many companies subscribe to is absolutely ridiculous! Consumers pay out the nose for insurance and then get ripped off if they make a claim. As the commercial says, "Why do you have that insurance?". If you know me you won't believe this next part. I've always been one to accept circumstances like this without question. I'm not the kind of person to accept any kind of injustice but I guess my inexperience in the business world has caused me to be rather meek when it comes to dealing with matters of finance. Too many times, I have just gone along with prices or offers quoted to me without question. NOT ANYMORE! I have learned through experience that there is usually a better deal waiting just around the corner and I work to hard for my money to not try and get the most out of it.

Let me tell you as succinctly as possible how my new found attitude came about. As soon as I found out the insurance company had jacked up their premium, I decided to find another company. I did find a much better rate but in the meantime the former company says they'll drop my premium back down. I decided the former company didn't deserve my loyalty but I learned that if you refuse to pay what they offer, many times they will offer you a better deal. I guess it's just not as profitable to give your customers the best deal up front. That way the people who don't know any better or are afraid to haggle over the price, will just accept the initial offer and pay the company more than necessary. I'm not going to be one of those people any more. All my adult life I have driven by high fuel prices to go to a lower price location. Why haven't I been doing something similar when it comes to all purchases?

This same practice can apply to goods as well. I recently inquired about a product I wanted. The price I was quoted didn't make financial sense at the time. When I said I couldn't afford that now, the price started magically dropping. I ended up with the product for considerably less than it was advertised. I guess many businesses have multiple prices that they can offer depending on how much various customers are willing to pay.

I'm not going to be the "sucker" anymore and accept the first price thrown at me if I consider it unreasonable. I work hard for my paycheck and it is irresponsible and downright stupid of me to let businesses, whether large or small, take more than a reasonable amount of my money.

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