As reported by the Broward County, Florida based Sun-Sentinel, Homeserve USA has drawn the ire of Floridians and Attorney Generals across the United States. The company has sent direct mailings to Floridians, and citizens of other States, that are designed to look like a bill but are basically a solicitation in disguise. Regrettably, this has become a popular marketing practice by some companies that create official looking documents and fabricated deadlines to prompt consumer action. Many consumers have found simliar ‘notices’, from other sources, with notices that appear to be from the IRS or other official entities.
In “Insurance Fliers Confuse Consumers, Homeserve Ads Resemble Government Notices“, reporter B. Wallman, provides background on Homeserve USA “papering” Floridians with direct mail advertisements that are designed to look like bills from the government. This is arguably a highly suspect practice and has created confusion among Floridians about whether they are under a deadline to act. In this instance, the mailings carry a 30 day response deadline, show a “pending” status and request a $4.99 a month payment to a “plan adminstrator”. The company forewarns unsuspecting consumers that their home is uninsured for the water line leading from the home to the water system. To prompt action, the company warns that related costs, if uninsured, could be in the thousands.
Reportedly, the company sent 600,000 mailers to Floridians in November 2012 alone. Now that is cause for irritation as the year comes to an end and the Holiday Season approaches. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Attorney General Pam Bondi has received at least 45 complaints in the past two years with mosting coming in 2012. Generally speaking home owners are responsible for pipes on their own property and may or may not be covered by other policies of insurance.
The practice has lead to Attorneys General in Ohio, Kentucky and Massachusetts acting on complaints. Whether a formal investigation is opened in Florida remains to be seen.