Never add up your insurance premiums. I just did and the annual cost of all of them came to more than the cost of most man-made or natural disasters. That means there really isn’t any point to any of them, statistically speaking.
The problem is I’m an insurance junkie. I’m a born cynic, a pessimist, a worrier. Someone only has to ask if I have ever thought what would happen if… (insert improbable but horrendous mishap: the dog ingesting a rare kind of lungworm, Russian separatists misfiring a rocket at eastern Ukraine that lands on my roof) …and I’m ready to sign on the dotted line of any kind of lunacy. I’m a sucker for the promise of safety, security ‘and the peace of mind of knowing that in an emergency you and your loved ones…’
Of course, it’s hooey. The small print clearly states: ‘In the event of you and your loved ones actually needing any of the help outlined in this policy, Royal Sod You Alliance reserves the right to deny all liability because you’ve got the wrong kind of window locks. Ha! Didn’t read that bit earlier, did ya?’
I once took out a very strange policy insuring my keys after my credit card company informed me I was dangerously uncovered for losing my handbag while on holiday and/or not being able to get my locks changed in a hurry if I was burgled.
After years of paying for this particular piece of peace of mind, I had my bag snatched and rang the helpline. ‘Oh no. You would have to call the locksmith yourself and then apply to us to reimburse you. We often do, once we have reviewed all the evidence, although it does take six months. And we don’t pay out unless you can prove you lost the keys during a full moon. You did lose the keys during a full moon, didn’t you? Would you like the forms sent out? They’re only 17 pages long.’
I know all this and yet still I fall for it. But what chance does a neurotic like me have of saying no when a salesman tells me that, unless I pay him an extra £11 a month on top of whatever I have paid for the appliance he has just sold me, said item will inevitably break down and in the ensuing fallout I will end up on the streets, destitute and alone.
Also, did you know that insurances breed? They do. They multiply and mutate. My boiler insurance was just boiler insurance until British Gas pointed out that it might not be my boiler that stopped working, it might be my radiators, or my pipes or my drains ..or my electrics. ‘Jumping Jehoshaphat! Insure every pipe and wire in my house, in the name of all that is holy, and never mind about the cost,’ I begged. And they didn’t mind.
Obviously, however, I can’t ever actually claim on any of these insurances, because that would put the premiums up. I once claimed on my horse insurance for an injury to one tendon in one leg, and Gracie ended up with none of her legs insured because, as the company argued, she might be compensating by standing on the other three legs too much now.
You can’t claim on them, but you can’t cancel them. Gracie is insured only from the haunches upwards, but I kept that policy going on the basis of them pointing out that cancelling it would leave her digestive system dangerously exposed.
Obviously, I never use my own health insurance. Not unless I have a minor complaint with no ongoing implications for my wellbeing. Lying in the bath recently, I noticed my big toe was getting kind of lumpy. ‘Oo, goody!’ I thought. ‘I might be able to have a luxurious stay in a private hospital and get a bunion removed without totally invalidating my cover!’
But the insurance I resent most is my laptop insurance. This is because I didn’t know I had it until I got a letter the other day informing me they had made a mistake and not taken the latest payment. So I rang them and asked what it was this policy did and they said, ‘Which policy are you talking about, madam?’
‘You mean I have more than one policy with you?’ Turns out I have laptop insurance, and cover for a cranky old Hewlett Packard desktop I never switch on, and a third policy that has entitled me for the past six years to ring a helpline I didn’t know was there.
Foolishly, I added up the total cost of these premiums for the period I have been paying them and it came to enough to buy several new computers.
Still, you can’t put a price on retrospective peace of mind.
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