DEAR BOB: I read your recent article about homeowner’s insurance and your advice to never file a small homeowner’s claim. I had exactly the opposite experience. I have had my homeowner’s and car insurance with State Farm for many years and have never had a problem with them. When we moved into our home, within the first two or three years, we had to file claims for a new roof because of hail damage, a new kitchen floor because of a leaking refrigerator, and fixing a leaking shower. All of these claims have been filed since 1991. At no time has State Farm ever threatened to cancel my insurance policies. Frankly, I think any insurance agent who cautions a customer not to file a claim should be reported to the insurance company for unethical behavior. Just my two cents worth – Elyse M.
DEAR ELYSE: You have been very fortunate. Many insurance companies have been “non-renewing” homeowner’s insurance policies when two or three claims were paid within the last few years.
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State insurance laws vary widely, often prohibiting insurers from “non-renewing” due to too many claims. However, insurers can and do raise rates for excessive claims.
After a homeowner has been non-renewed by an insurer for filing too many claims, it can be extremely difficult for that homeowner to obtain insurance except at very high costs.
My recommendation is to raise your homeowner’s insurance policy deductible to as high as you can afford, such as $500, $1,000 or more, so you won’t have to file small homeowner’s insurance claims and risk non-renewal.
CAN HOME SELLER RETAIN THE OIL AND MINERAL RIGHTS
DEAR BOB: I am negotiating to purchase the house I currently rent. But the owner wants to retain the oil and mineral rights. Can she do that? How can I buy the house and obtain the oil and mineral rights? – Patricia B.
DEAR PATRICIA: I notice your e-mail comes from an area where it is not unusual for a property seller to retain the oil and mineral rights.
If you insist on obtaining fee simple absolute title, without allowing the seller to retain the oil and mineral rights, the seller can refuse to sell to you.
Chances of the seller ever attempting to extract minerals beneath your house are very slim. But it rarely happens.
That’s why, for example, in Southern California you occasionally see a house with an oil pump in the back yard. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
READER SAYS PRE-EXISTING NUISANCES SHOULD BE ALLOWED
DEAR BOB: In the last few weeks, I noticed you had items about a noisy dog kennel and a noisy gun club, which disturb the neighbors. You said they should contact an attorney to have these nuisances abated. I’m not against legal action when needed, but the gun club and dog kennel were there before the residences were built. Sorry, but they were there first. These home buyers are the same people who move into a deed-restricted community, or near a noisy airport, and expect to have the nuisance removed. Unless there is a law violation, pre-existing nuisances should be allowed to exist – Marc S.
DEAR MARC: Thank you for your viewpoint. I received lots of mail and e-mail about the recent noisy dog kennel and gun club nuisances. Most agreed with you.
However, when noise invades a property and interferes with the owner’s use, that’s a nuisance. If it affects many people, it is a public nuisance. If it affects only a few owners, it is a private nuisance.
Even if the nuisance property complies with local zoning, if it interferes with a property owner’s enjoyment of their property it is a nuisance, which is subject to court abatement. Just because the nuisance was there first is not a legal defense.
Often, a court weighs the harm compared to the benefit. That’s why, for example, noisy airports are allowed to exist because they create employment and benefit the public. But airport operators have paid billions of dollars to either buy or insulate nearby properties to minimize the noise nuisance created. The same nuisance rules apply to the dog kennel and gun club which pre-existed before the residences were built. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
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