In my previous post I talked about an earthquake and, when discussing that subject with others, it evinces some surprise when I say that our house is not insured. Why, people wonder. I’ll tell you why. There’s the language barrier of first finding out what you’re paying for and then making a claim. I guarantee that the whole process of the latter would be full of pit traps, would grind along at a snail’s pace and that by the time we got any money all the repairs would have been made and paid for and we’d be on a pension.

Then there’s earthquakes: financially Greece is a seriously fucked-up country and if there was an earthquake here on Crete large enough to collapse our house I’m damned sure that nearly every other house on Crete would be rubble too, and shortly after that the insurance companies would be disappearing in a puff of debt and bullshit. Then there’s fire. The house will not burn down. Concrete and stone and tiled floors are not exactly flammable. It could be damaged inside if the sofa or a bed caught fire, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take. Flood, of course, is irrelevant – we’re 700 metres up on top of a mountain. I would rather squirrel the money away for that rainy day – a day that might never occur. And finally, insurance companies aren’t out to do anyone any favours. They are casino owners full of overpaid jerks who will squirm like hooked worms to avoid giving any money back.

Let me illustrate that last point. Last year, at the age of 54, my brother Martin was diagnosed with oesaphageal cancer. He told us he would have chemo, then a piece of his oesophagus removed, some further treatment after that, be back on track. He neglected to mention that at best he had five years, and none of us considered checking. Certainly my 83-year-old mother didn’t know about the odds and the survival rates you can find on the Internet. Really, you don’t expect your son to die at that age.

Whilst this was occurring, my mother booked a two week holiday in Thailand, paying out about £3,000 which included the requisite insurance. She wants to get her holidays in whilst she still has a chance. Maybe in another five years she won’t be capable which, when you consider what I just wrote above, is highly relevant.

Before she got to go to Thailand, Martin came out of hospital, but then went straight back. He wasn’t healing up and soon they discovered another cancer in his torso. He hadn’t got long to live. My mother cancelled her holiday and, of course, the holiday company refused to give a refund. She then made a claim on her insurance. Whilst my brother was dying in hospital, the insurance company wriggled and squirmed, threw paperwork at her, refused to pay. Apparently an insurance payment for the cancellation of a holiday didn’t apply if it concerned a family member with cancer. Apparently we all need to be both oncologists and precognitive when buying insurance. She took it to the Ombudsman, but no joy there either – just another bunch of useless bureaucrats feathering their own nests.

Be warned: A family member with cancer, even one with a good prognosis, might have the temerity to start dying, and you won’t be able to claim back the money you paid out for that holiday so you can be at the bedside, or the funeral.

My mother lost a son and £3,000. Obviously the second hardly mattered in the light of the first, which is just the kind of shit insurance companies rely on.

My take on all this, as regards our house, is that I would rather my money went straight to a builder or furniture shop, if needed, rather than to that bunch of besuited fucking parasites.

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