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Insurance is out of control

For the first time ever, I was the victim of a robbery last month.The truly sad part is it happened not once, but twice.First someone broke into my home in Lyndhusrt, Ont. and stole a handful of items...



For the first time ever, I was the victim of a robbery last month.

The truly sad part is it happened not once, but twice.

First someone broke into my home in Lyndhusrt, Ont. and stole a handful of items including my canoe, which I received as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. It meant a lot to me as together we had enjoyed several forays into Frontenac Provincial Park. Great fishing, great memories … sullied.

I planned to file a claim with my insurer, Gore Mutual, at which point the second crime occurred.

My broker informed me that not only is there a $500 deductible, but I could also expect my rates to go up by at least 10 per cent for three years.

The company stole any hope I had of replacing my vessel, as well as any sympathy I had for the insurance industry.

It has gotten to the point where the average person can’t afford to make a claim unless there’s a life lost. And I’m speaking of vehicle insurers now, too.

I understand these companies need to make money and it’s not in their interest to write checks and pay claims as this diminishes profit. But enough is enough.

So many insurers have reported record financial numbers over the past few years – it makes me sick.

Is there no way to come up with an insurance system that works? One charging fair premiums on coverage without assessing penalties just because you are unlucky enough to need their service.

The idea of insurance is great; everyone wants to protect their possessions. Since we can’t build moats around our respective castles nowadays having a company compensate you for your loss sounds like the next best thing.

Sadly the insurance biz rarely seems to work that way. Not only are you made to feel like a criminal when you try to file a claim, but their policies are designed to keep you from following through with the process.

Having worked closely to trucking for a number of years now, I’ve seen what happens when journalists paint an entire industry with the same broad brush. So if you’re with a reputable insurance company that hasn’t lost sight its customers needs – I apologize.

But to the rest of you, you’re a bunch of heartless bastards and one day the Canadian public will simply refuse to pay your outrageous rates in exchange for the little or no service you actually provide at the end of the day.

This industry seems to have the best of both worlds when it comes to setting rates. You are assigned a risk rating based on a wide variety of factors. When you are just starting out it’s based on relatively impersonal formulas like where you live. Some areas have higher crime rates. This I understand. But when you make a claim, your incident hasn’t told the insurance company anything it didn’t already know. The overall crime rate in you area doesn’t change unless you live in a town of about 10 people. Yet you are left paying more each month, because you are now high-risk.

I know the rules exist to keep people from committing insurance fraud, but is it necessary to punish the millions of honest people in this country as a proactive measure aimed at a small minority of shady individuals?

Legislators need to step in and say, “Enough of this double-dipping crap folks. Once and for all decide what it will be.”

Every week I get calls from truckers battling with insurance companies over a few thousand bucks each. For the coverage provider, a case like this represents only a mere dollop in the trough where they continually wallow and gorge themselves. But for the small operator, these cases can – and often do – lead to bankruptcy.

Having played more than a game or two of blackjack in my day, one thing I’ve learned is insurance is the worst bet in the house. At least when your number comes up in a casino, they pay you what you’re due. n

– John Curran can be reached by phone at 416-442-2091 or by email at jcurran@corporate.southam.ca.


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