Saturday, July 7, 2007

Flooding across the Pond

From time to time, we like to dabble a bit in the P&C (property and casualty) side of "the biz." This includes items like auto, home and liability insurance, as opposed to our regular fare of life and health.

About two years ago, we participated in the blogosphere's efforts to help victims of Hurricane Katrina (which project, apparently, was more successful than our own gummint's). And while that was a terrifically satisfying endeavor, we never underestimated the vast reserves and dedication of the P&C "cat" teams who slogged through the devastation, dispensing help and, more importantly, cash.

At the other end of the spectrum, Britain's NHS (National Health System) has been the target of more than a few of our posts, and rightly so. But our English cousins haven't (yet) nationalized their P&C industry, which is now trying to cope with floods that compare to that which we saw in NOLA. Apparently, the Brits' carriers are up to the task, but an interesting question arises:

"So why do one in four people, almost a third in Scotland and London, take a risk and not insure their contents?"

That's a lot of uninsured folks, many of whom now face financial ruin, displacement and worse. Some, of course, are just natural risk-takers, and we have many of our own of this ilk here in the 'States. For others, it's a matter of economics: if you can barely afford to eat, then insurance premiums are probably not high on your list of necessary purchases. I'm not sure I entirely buy that: the premium quoted in the Times article, £200 (about $400) a year, works out to less than $10 a week, which doesn't seem overwhelming.

Which gives rise to the real questions:

"Should we save them when the floodwater rises? Or do we stand purse-lipped at their lack of providence, as the loss adjuster with his clipboard sanctions our new suite?"

Tough choices. What was that about stiff upper lips?


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