Tag Archives: property

Buying insurance should be easy right?

I really dislike insurance companies. They are taking money because of something that *may* happen and every time I have tried claiming insurance in the past the company has always found a get-out clause. Why bother?

Clearly it is important in a catastrophic situation – like crashing the car so badly it’s wrecked – but when the situation is less urgent, the insurance I have bought in the past has never paid.

I even bought an expensive property insurance policy once because I was upset that my previous policy did not let me claim for a stolen laptop computer. I upgraded it, threw in all the added extras and when my bicycle was stolen I felt sure that they would pay – only to find a clause stating that bicycles are not covered when away from the house.

I should have just lied, but then that would be fraud and I have never lied to an insurer to try getting a payout. They don’t pay me even when I try making a genuine claim.

But when I do want to buy a policy I don’t expect to have to go to a broker – not in 2014. I already have a car insurance policy here in Brazil with Porto Seguro. My wife just bought a car so ideally I would assume they could just modify our existing policy to lump the two cars and two drivers all together as one.

No. They can’t do it. I need to just buy a completely new policy and they can’t help me on the telephone – the instruction was to just go to a broker. The broker took the existing Porto Seguro policy so he had all our details from the existing policy – something the insurance company should have done anyway…

It’s not a very good way to treat an existing customer – surely the model any successful company should be following is how to make it easy for customers spend more money?

Porto Seguro and No Parking

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Feeling safe in Brazil

One thing that people from the UK often ask me is whether it is safe to live in Brazil. The image most foreigners have of living here is of the favelas… in particular the international success of the film City of God didn’t help very much.

At face value, the crime statistics are much higher than Britain and the police in São Paulo alone shoot someone dead everyday, but on a day-today basis I don’t feel any unease living here.

When I first arrived, I was endlessly surprised by the amount of security people use to feel safe. Windows have steel bars, shops and banks have armed guards, every police officer is armed, car showrooms offer bullet-proofing as an option…

It all becomes normal through osmosis, but I still question the need for all this security. It would be nice to see a house with a garden, rather than a steel cage “protecting” the residents.

As this Reuters article states, there is an obsession with security in Brazil, but there are also some encouraging signs. The murder rate in New Orleans is five times that of São Paulo and bank robberies across the entire country dropped from over 3,000 a decade ago to 343 last year.

The Reuters article points out some anecdotal evidence, such as people freely using devices such as iPhones on a bus, something unthinkable just a few years ago. In many ways the freedom to use expensive devices such as a smartphone, laptop computer or iPod in public now feels just as it would in any other major city.

Would you walk around an unfamiliar street in New York or London late at night with your senses dulled by music from an iPod and gazing into the GPS-powered map on your iPhone? It’s pretty much the same here these days.

I was with my wife in a local bar the other day and she was telling the bar owner about our plans to move to the coast. Not just for the beach, but also because a smaller town would be safer than the city. He said he can only remember hearing of one robbery in the entire neighbourhood this year so how do we define ‘safer’ than that?

Maybe he just wanted to keep us as good customers. We are the only customers at his bar that run a slate with credit, paying him advance rather than him chasing us to settle the bill, but he sounded genuine.

As with city life anywhere, you can be a victim of crime through sheer bad luck, but most of the time you make your own luck through choices about how much wealth, gadgets, and jewellry  you display.

São Paulo may well have more crime then London, but I’m not scared to ride the bus or walk down the street. I still get unnerved by all the armed guards at banks though. If I am ever nearby when a bank robbery kicks off then I’ll be more scared of the guards than the criminals…

Hob nob robber strikes again