Like so many people, I couldn’t wait for 2020 to be finally in the rear view mirror. Like so many, I looked forward to the year 2021 with anticipation and hope.
Just 10 days in, I have to say I had not yet felt the best of vibrations. A couple of entries from my daily journal might explain….
I bought beer today. Normally putting them away in the fridge would be a casual effort. Not today. A bottle next to the one I had in my hand exploded. With a startling loud bang, the flawed bottle neck with cap still on, as well as a large piece of glass, rocketed up and out of the box ending up on the floor below. The shard of glass went dangerously close to my hand. It scared me and my partner who was also in the kitchen at the time. We cleaned up the mess with a lot of trepidation thinking that if there was one bottle with a flaw, what is to say there wasn’t another bad bottle in the box. It made for a tense time as we carefully picked out and wiped each bottle sticky from the shower of beer that had drenched them all. For a few minutes we wondered if we shouldn’t just throw away the whole box, beer and all, rather than take the risk that another bottle might be ready to explode.
A few days later I decided to let the beer company know about the incident. I did it under the rationale that I would be doing them a favour around the concept of helping them with “quality control”. Deep down inside, I was really hoping they might send me a coupon for a free box. I guessed that they had insurance for that kind of issue and they might want to offer me a few free bottles to allay any possible liability they might have had if I had been injured. A week later I had a nice note from a lady saying she was putting a cheque for $30 in the mail.
January 7, 2021
I received a wonderful gift over Christmas. An Atlantic treat called Ganong Chicken Bones! Anyone who has had one knows that it is hard to just suck on one of these “dark chocolate on the inside hard cinnamon candy on the outside” mouth-watering treats. Sooner or later, despite knowing the danger, you always crunch down on the candy. The gap in my mouth that had not been there just a few minutes before told me I had made a mistake. Upon closer examination, I discovered that the “not recommended” crunch had dislodged a large chunk of one of my molars. Only a few years ago I had discovered I was paying around $1200 a year for dental insurance and only using it once a year for a $250 cleaning. I had decided to cancel dental insurance and go with the pay as you go plan. Supposedly saving over $900 a year! On this fateful day, all the money I had saved (but not put away) would go into a new capped tooth. Life lesson….. Money saved by the self-insured is only good if you actually put it aside for things like “chicken bones”.
The Town had sent out notices a few weeks ago. Overnight parking was not permitted on the square during wintertime. There was space at the back of the post office parking lot across from my condo that looked safe, so I began to park under the eves of the building in what I thought was a convenient free space.. Coming back from a walk, I glanced over at my car which had been parked for a few days only to see the windshield smashed. On further inspection the hood and the side of the car were also dented. It was apparent that two large chunks of ice/snow had fallen from the second-floor roof of the building onto my car. Over the course of the next two weeks, I would get an estimate of the total damages. Over $9000! The insurance company was going to explore the liability of the owner of the building. Did they do enough to warn me that there might be snow/ice falling from the roof? I was told that “insurance is all about “policies and liabilities”. He hoped I understood. I did, but I was not as sure that my friends who owned the post office building or the post office itself would. The decision to use insurance companies and lawyers to decide on simple issues of kindness is a big business. I get it that sometimes people are negligent and should be held accountable. But for a great many situations, things happen, and no one is at real “fault”. Expect in the eyes of lawyers and insurance companies. I’m not sure how this will all work out in the end but it has been an eye-opener.
And so, it is, just a few short but eventful weeks into 2021, I have faced some drama and some reasons to think of insurance from all angles. From the sublime trust of the “self-insured” to the casual “why not” to the extreme of not being able to do without it for catastrophes. It would appear, that insurance has become a game of chicken. In one of my cases, of “chicken bones”! Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. What concerns me is that the insurance and legal industry may have created a world of protectionism against the larger wrongs – that has permeated its way all the way down to the one pertaining to a single exploding beer bottle. Could it be that, regardless of the risk, all liabilities are now all being treated the same.
All I know is that I would rather let my January experiences stop at the count of three and that 2021 get on with being the year I looked forward to again.