Ads for insurance assail us ceaselessly. We discuss and debate the best companies, rates, deductibles. We maneuver the labyrinth of policies and hope to emerge in a perfectly safe place where our lives are protected from any conceivable disaster.
But it’s the nature of insurance that gets me. Doesn’t an insurance policy essentially reflect that the individual carrier has no community on which to depend in an emergency? Doesn’t it mean that all I have is my house, and if it burns down then there is nothing else in this world for me? No one will take me in or help me rebuild or otherwise shelter me from the elements.
Supposedly having insurance demonstrates individual responsibility. I send all this money to people I don’t even know so as not to be a burden to those I love if I ever have needs. But what if you were to give all those various insurance premiums to someone whose house had burnt down? By that altruistic act, wouldn’t you be insuring that there would be folks who would help you out in turn, should you ever need it?
Do we not trust each other?
We like the idea that we are protected by our policies so that we aren’t at the mercy of family, friends and community, so we send our protection money to… strangers? We hope that these unknown persons in the guise of insurance agents will deign to show up at the scene of our emergency, ask us a bunch of personal and accusatory questions, and then decide whether or not they will give us the help for which we have been faithfully sending them all that money. This makes us sleep better at night?
When did we decide to progress to a stage in civilization where a contract is a closer, more dependable bond than blood and camaraderie (I invoke here the 19th century definition of camaraderie as “a feeling of close friendship and trust among a group of people”)?
We feel better that strangers decide who gets what help? That they get the interest on the money sitting in wait of a disaster to relieve?
I don’t claim to have the answer to this dilemma, nor do I necessarily believe it is possible for us in our modern world to take care of each other’s crises in the manner to which we have grown accustomed.
I am just bothered by the whole idea, and saddened that there does not appear to be a less corporate, more community-oriented way to feel safer in our reality.