Saturday October 6, 2007
Insurance is the modern equivalent of all the old pagan gods. Every month we make our little offerings to the household gods, the travel gods, and the wealth and health gods in the hope that nothing bad will happen to us in any of these areas.
Insurance policies are rarely comprehensive, and it’s amazing what they don’t cover. For example, travel insurance often excludes travel outside the home. On the other hand, some policies include irrelevant cover. Household cover, say, often includes travel except when it’s done inside the home.
While burglary is a terrible thing, the subsequent insurance claim is often seen as Christmas come early. Loss adjusters are people who adjust the losses you’ve claimed to something approximating the truth. If all insurance claims went unchecked, the amount people nationwide would claim had been stolen would exceed the entire national product many times over.
The no-claims bonus is the bonus insurance companies get when people are persuaded not to claim. It’s estimated that half the people in a major pile-up are more concerned about damaging their no-claims bonus than the fact that their five-door estate is now a one-door cube.
There are two ways to get peace of mind when you buy something. The first is to buy something well made in Germany; the other is to buy an extended warranty on something cheap and nasty that ends up costing more over five years than the expensive German model.
All insurance policies have an “excess”, which is short for “excessive”. This is a tax on your stupidity. It’s how insurance companies give you a sharp rap over the knuckles before paying out, similar to your mum saying, “You’re a naughty boy” before pulling the grit out of your knee.
After something bad has happened, “Are you insured?” is a polite way of asking someone, “Are you an idiot?” If you’re not insured, then thinking of all the premiums you haven’t paid in the past never quite seems to compensate for that horrible sinking feeling. Of course, it is possible to live without insurance on the basis that, if something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger (and if it does kill you, insurance won’t be a great help)