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Friday, November 28, 2014

An Act of Nature


Went to renew my Home Insurance with NRMA, the same nice people who, after having had me covered for flood damage for the past twenty years, put this PR-spin on last year's renewal slip:

"Your policy now includes flood cover. On the right panel you will see two premiums listed - one with flood and one without. You can choose which you'd prefer. To remove flood cover, you must contact us on 1300 137 593."

And here's the 'right panel':

What a stunt! My policy had not only NOW but ALWAYS included flood cover! What had changed was that NOW they wanted five times the premium for it! Why am I still with the bastards? Because all the other insurers are bastards, too!

However, having become more wary and wiser and having watched Billy Connolly's movie 'The Man Who Sued God' and having so many big blue gum trees near the house , I asked them if the policy covered any damage caused by a tree falling on my house and, more specifically, any damage caused by a tree falling on my neighbours' house (remote both in distance and likelihood).

"Yes", they said, "of course, your house is covered. As for damage to your neighbours' house, that's covered by their policy."

"But wouldn't I be liable because it was caused by my tree?"

"No, you wouldn't! You didn't deliberately push it over, did you? It would be an 'Act of Nature'."

An 'Act of Nature'? What happened to 'Act of God'? Have they all become atheists or have they all been watching Billy Connolly's movie?

Anyway, it's probably the silliest answer I could've hoped for, as buildings & contents insurance is not compulsory which means that in the event of my neighbours not being insured, they would still go for me (as they would anyway).

So I went one better (or so I thought) and spoke with one of the "experts" at NRMA headquarters who prattled on and on (always a sure sign that he didn't have a clue what he was talking about) and, when pressed for a written reply, emailed me an almost irrelevant 'Factsheet' from their Product disclosure statement.

I'm sure I could've got a more satisfactory reply from a call centre in Mumbai.

P.S. Not that you could ever rely on what these people tell you: when they pulled the flood insurance stunt on me, they also suggested a lower sum insured to make the premium more affordable (since when is a $5,000-premium affordable?) to which I immediately raised the question of under-insurance - click here. Not getting a satisfactory answer from their local office, I took it all way up to their head office whose insurance "expert" told me I was way ahead of him when I mentioned the dreaded word 'averaging' as, having been a cook in a previous life, he had no idea what I was talking about. Not wanting to risk being put through to their cleaning lady, I didn't bother to pursue it further.