Ask Darwin is a monthly series I wanted to start after reading about people’s responses to the flooding in Calgary. The idea behind Ask Darwin is to think about the way we look at things and challenge what’s really happening for us when we think, feel, or behave in certain ways. Thanks for stopping by!
Recently there was a flood in my city and my house flooded. Now my insurance company won’t pay for the damages because it wasn’t included in my coverage. Don’t you think they have a moral and social responsibility to give me money to help pay for the damages? After all, we trusted them.
Doin’ the backstroke, Calgary AB
Dear Ms. Backstroke
Charles ‘Da man Darwin
Before I get a hundred responses full of four letter words for my heinousness, let me explain.
Here’s a quote from someone whose house had flooded and had been denied coverage by their insurance company:
“When we purchased our insurance from RBC, we trusted them as a company that would do the right thing in a situation such as this,” she said. “To get a blanket denial for our claim left us both surprised and deeply disappointed.”
Joanne Aime, Elbow Park Resident, Calgary Herald
Here’s the background:
A few weeks ago, the Bow and Elbow Rivers breached their banks and started flooding out whole communities in Calgary, Alberta. Mayhem ensued.
Sewer back-ups brought water into basements; overland flooding left people stranded; neighbourhoods were evacuated; and property was damaged or completely destroyed. City of Calgary – and many others – stepped up and had emergency services mobilized and emergency assistance centres distributing desperately needed resources to everyone affected.
Home owners with property damage started learning some difficult truths – the payments they had so faithfully been paying for months or years to their insurance companies for home and content coverage will not accept their claims. Those who had flooding due to sewer back up got off a little easier because some insurance cover that clause.
Why? Insurance companies do not offer flood insurance here in Canada. That’s one issue.
Why not sewer back up? Some insurance companies do not offer sewer back up coverage caused “directly or indirectly” as a result of overland flooding. That’s the other issue.
Do I think these insurance companies should cover these damages? Absolutely.
Am I happy that these people managed to get coverage for their claims after banding together and launching their name and shame campaign in the press? Yes. Yes. Yes. No question about it.
Do I want to rely on concepts like “should” and “moral and social responsibility” to pay my bills? No
Do I want to “trust” the insurance company that I have entered into a business agreement with to do the “right thing”? Not really.
Do I want to live in a world where I believe businesses owe me things because something bad happened to me? Hell no.
Here’s why: I have no control in my life if I think like this.
If I read my insurance policy and understand the terms, I am able to make an informed decision about the service I am receiving. I am able to shop around and see if there’s a different company that offers coverage that better fits my needs. If a company is too restrictive in their coverage, I am going to bounce them pretty quickly.
If I hope for the best and plan for the worst, I am able to have funds available to me so I can get through a tough spot without it destroying my whole life.
If I manage my finances appropriately, I can avoid some of the complications that can happen in life when you’re living in the red.
Where I am now: Not quite there yet.
If I were any of these people that had been flooded, I would be doomed.
At this point, I haven’t read my home/life insurance agreements and have no idea if they would cover me for sewer back up caused “directly or indirectly” by overland flooding.
- That trusty to-do task is on my list for tonight, though.
I haven’t hoped for the best and planned for the worst, I don’t have the necessary funds to get me through a tough spot – no matter how small or big.
- I have a plan for this and our new roommate will help with paying down debt and having some funds available for an emergency.
I haven’t managed my finances appropriately at this point so I’m vulnerable to smaller complications becoming bigger complications because of my precarious money situation.
- I am reading PF blogs and books like a maniac and working hard at developing new habits so I can change this fact. This will take awhile though.
In the same situation, I would do exactly the same thing as Joanne Aime and other residents refused by their insurance companies and appeal through the media. It worked for them and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time – the flood damage to their homes will cost big money.
The point being is that I don’t want to be in this position. I’m working towards becoming someone that can roll with the financial punches in a more proactive way.
There has to be a better way than being at the mercy of random insurance company’s “common decency”.
What are your thoughts, readers?
Images used under a Creative Commons Licence – Wikimedia Commons