Being Insured

Created on 26/3/2008

I am a fervent believer in insurance. My belief is that if I am insured nothing can happen to me. It’s my good luck wrapped in a policy. Bad things cannot happen to those that are insured. I acknowledge that I am probably more insured than I might need to be. I also don’t claim very much against my many insurance policies. The reason for this is because I have the insurance in place. I am convinced that should a policy lapse I would immediately suffer terrible retribution from the insurance Gods. They exist you know, waiting for me to miss a payment.

I have insurance on my travel, cars, critical illness, death, but for some reason that’s called life insurance and health. This is a seriously expensive business. I don’t want to even calculate how much this is costing of my not so disposable income. My behaviour I learnt from my late mother, whose belief in good, solid insurance I have inherited. When she was dying in a very expensive Intensive Care Unit of a Harley Street hospital she rallied briefly and leaned forward to me, “Has it cost the medical insurance a lot of money?” she whispered, “Yes mum,” I responded, gently stroking her forehead, “but you don’t have to worry about it.” She smiled and gathered her strength; “I’m not worried, I’ve been paying all the years, now it’s their turn!”

I once had two insurance policies on my first ever house. My purchasing insurance cover on the house, and my lawyers, thinking I was new to the game of self-protection, also obtaining me another policy for the same thing, had caused this error. Apparently we had purchased the two policies within thirty minutes of one another. This is where my fear might originate. Of course the property consequently suffered subsidence. The policy I had obtained turned out to be the first one purchased. This meant that the two insurance companies would split the costs, and the two of them would be led by the first. “Ah ha!” I thought happily, “no problem,” that company had profited handsomely from my family business and therefore there would be a quick outcome. Flash forward some four and a half years. They were total bastards, not willing to pay a penny, and totally unhelpful. The other company, who I had never dealt with previously were more than willing to cooperate, but were constrained by their peers.

Eventually I was able to convince the building company that they should purchase the property back from us at the market value. I did this by reminding them that I had a camera, a film crew and access to the media. They got the message and I got a cheque. I think I might have forgotten to tell everyone about this happy outcome. That same afternoon I then telephoned the insurance companies and asked them if they would reconsider my plight as we had been begging them for half a decade. The people I didn’t know offered to match whatever the first insurers would do, up to half of the cost of repair. I told them I would accept. I then spoke with my friends, and they told me they would make an ex gratia, one time payment to close the matter once and for all. “But you must understand, old chap, that once you accept that payment you can make no further claim against the insurance company, ever.” I said I did understand and asked them, “and does this mean that the matter is settled, both ways, once and for all?” they repeated that it did. I accepted their payment on these terms and the payment, matching this from the first company. I banked the cheques.

Once the cheques cleared I paid back the nice insurance company and they were most happy with this outcome. I telephoned my friend at the insurers with whom I had agreed that the matter was closed. They were annoyed that I rung, reminding me that there could be no further claims. I told them of my good luck and they were very happy for me. They asked me if I would consider giving them their money back. I told them I would consider this matter, for about four and a half years, strangely enough, the same period of time I had waited for them to honour their commitment to me.

I won’t bore you with the decision I reached all that time later, but suffice it to say I am still a believer in the insurance concept, if not in all its practitioners. Remember to buy that umbrella on the sunny days.