Insurance Fiasco

In February 2013, I had to store my belongings somewhere. I chose Public Storage #23432 located at 4501 SW 54th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314.  Part of the agreement to use this facility was that I had to pay $14 per month for property insurance. However, when I removed my belongings from the unit on September 1, 2013, there was a liquid substance on the floor that I had no knowledge of. I called the staff member and she came around to look at the substance. Neither one of us could ascertain what it was but we knew it was not plain water. It looked like it had seeped through from the adjacent unit and she called the owner, who came over right away. The unit owner next to mine didn’t know what it was either. Subsequently, I reported damage to my twin box spring to the insurance company. That’s when the trouble started.

First, I contacted Willis Insurance Services, the company that held the policy on my unit. In a 20-30 minute phone interview, the claim taker asked me several questions about the damage to my property. 



Next, I got a call from the claims adjuster, who left a message for me to contact her, which I did. When I finally got in touch with her, she informed me that the damage was not covered under their insurance policy because they had determined that the substance was soap.  Unfortunately, I had not touched the substance or taken a specimen of it, so I didn’t know if this was the truth or not.

I asked to speak to her supervisor, who called me back, a while later. He told me that their policy stipulated that their policy only covered 13 substances. I asked to speak with his supervisor, who called me back and I told him I would be reporting his company to the Better Business Bureau because my property was damaged and I need relief.

On September 12, the company sent me a letter stating that I would not be compensated for the damage to my property because my “certificate of insurance is a named peril policy, providing coverage for the perils named in the COVERED CAUSES OF LOSS section of [the] policy.”

Of course, most of us just do not read the small print in insurance policies, so we get the information after-the-fact.  However, I just read my policy and do not see the word “soap” anywhere in the policy.  Nevertheless, the so-called “soap” was not among my belongings, so I am inclined to believe I have a right to be compensated, since the substance seeped into my unit on the floor from the unit next to mine.

In addition, it is my belief that because I was FORCED to have this insurance policy that it is unethical for the insurance company to deny me compensation, particularly because the word “soap” is not mentioned in their policy, and despite the fact that I have no proof the substance really is soap.

I spoke with the manager at another Public Storage facility and was told that staff is prohibited from discussing insurance with the customer. Due to the fact that on-site staff is usually the only personnel to come in contact with the customer, there should be some kind of disclaimer made by personnel to the customer to make the customer aware that the insurance policy they are forced to purchase has major limitations of coverage.

I am submitting this report to the Better Business Bureau, naming Willis Insurance Company as an unethical business.