Common attitude wrong

"Accidents happen. That’s what insurance is for" is an overwhelmingly common attitude.

Just typing those words made my skin crawl.

Is insurance “for accidents?” Or does insurance actually cause crashes by removing driver accountability?

Consider the impact of the “you break it, you buy it” sign in a store displaying expensive, fragile merchandise.

You become super conscious about not bumping into a display. A loose jacket or handbag is pulled in close to ensure nothing is knocked over.

Your nine-year-old son waits at the door. Or at the very least you are holding his hand, keeping him very close to you.

What if you had to purchase breakage insurance to enter the store? If you or your son breaks something, the insurance company pays the store for the broken item.

You would no longer be “super conscious.”

Your mind would be free to wander as you browse, perhaps thinking about what to make for dinner. Your 9 year old would be free to roam, picking up and playing with whatever fragile items he comes across.

You might pull out your cell phone to have a telephone discussion, or check your text messages.

What will happen to the frequency of broken merchandise?

It’s OK, though. The store’s losses are compensated by the insurance company. The insurance company collects enough premiums to pay that compensation. 

But you have to pay the premium.

And that premium will increase as the level of carelessness and number of broken items increases.

It’s not hard to make it through the store without breaking anything. Heck, it’s easy. You just maintain your focused attention on what you are doing. 

Take away that focused attention, though, and “accidents happen.”

Breakage insurance removes your accountability. It results in a lower level of care. More items break. It’s not a stretch to say that the breakage insurance  actually causes breakages.

It’s not hard to make it from A to B on our roadways without crashing your car, either. Heck, it’s easy. You just maintain your focused attention on what you are doing.

Similarly, liability insurance removes accountability and causes crashes.

Liability insurance also protects your victims if you don’t have enough assets to pay fair compensation for the damage you cause.

How do we maintain victim protection while increasing accountability?

A steep deductible and/or other consequences that are stiff enough that we go into the cautious “you break it, you buy it” mode.

What if an absent-minded driver who crashes into the back of a stopped vehicle had to reach into their pocket and pay the first $5,000 of their victim’s losses?

And spend a weekend attending a road safety awareness program.

I say that’s a sure-fire, guaranteed way to reduce crashes. I’d bet my house on it.

Reduced crashes means reduced insurance premiums to pay for those crashes. Our ICBC premiums will go down instead of up.

Are you willing to become accountable for your driving behaviour?

Given the option, would you choose:

  • to pay the increased ICBC premium in the range of $130.00 annually, or
  • pay a reduced premium but take on personal accountability?


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About the Author

Paul Hergott began practicing law in 1995, in a general litigation practice. Of the various areas of litigation, he became most drawn to, and passionate about, pursuing fair compensation for injured victims. This gradually became his exclusive area of practice.

In 2007, Paul opened Hergott Law, a boutique personal injury law firm in the Central Interior, serving personal injury clients from all over British Columbia. Paul’s practice is restricted to acting only for the injured victim, never for ICBC or for other insurance companies.

Paul became a weekly newspaper columnist in January of 2007, when his first column entitled “It’s not about screwing the Insurance Company” was published. 

Please feel free to email or call Paul (1.855.437.4688) with legal issues you might like him to write about in his column, or to offer your feedback about something he has written.

Email:   [email protected]
Firm website:  www.hlaw.ca
Achieving Justice Legal Blog:  http://www.hlaw.ca/category/all-columns/
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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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