Nowadays, when Bow and I look out on the backyard we see our dog Leo lounging on the trampoline. But there was a time not long ago, when Sword and Bow used to play on that trampoline together. I mentioned this once on social media and reminisced about how it was a wonderful experience for all of us.
When I wrote about our trampoline, I got two comments that I thought were interesting. One person said that where she lives, nobody has trampolines, because the insurance companies would increase the charges for homeowner’s insurance on anyone who had one, and this has a chilling effect on trampoline ownership.
Another person mentioned that she has a trampoline with a safety net. I told her we never got a safety net for ours because Bow would have destroyed it, but that in retrospect, I was glad we never got one, because it would have lulled my children into a false sense of security. Instead, I made it very clear to them that no one would catch them if they fell, and so they had better not fall. And they never did!
This got me to thinking of the concept of insurance as a kind of safety net.
A trampoline really is dangerous. So is a chimpanzee. A chimpanzee on a trampoline with a little girl you would think would be very dangerous. But really it depends on the chimpanzee, the little girl and their mother to see to it that things do not get out of hand. I insisted they jump close to the center of the trampoline and that they do so in a safe manner. I supervised. And as athletic as my children are compared to me, they are not super-athletic, so they never tried any dangerous stunts. I have heard about children getting hurt on trampolines. I have heard of it happening with a safety net on.
But you could also say that it’s a matter of statistics. That our case was unusual, but that insurance companies play the numbers game, and that statistically speaking, if lots of people and their chimpanzees jumped on a trampoline without a safety net then someone was bound to get hurt.
I can definitely see the insurance company’s point of view. If I were in the business of selling insurance, then I, too, might not want to bet on nobody getting hurt, especially if I stood to lose money on it. So I would probably tell people not to do what I allowed my own children to do, because I do not know those people and some of them might not be very careful and somebody would end up getting hurt and I would have to pay for it.
The thing is, to me, our family is not a statistic. And I can tell you with 100% certainty in hindsight that we made it through the years of a little girl and a chimpanzee on a trampoline with flying colors, and nobody in fact got hurt. It would be a real shame if an insurance company robbed us of those beautiful memories.
In fact, if any insurance company had tried that, they would have seen me cancel the policy. If all of them did, then I would do without insurance at all. My house is paid up. There is no law that says that I have to have homeowner’s insurance. Which means that I am free to make my own risk calculations.
There are, however, other kinds of insurance policies that are now being forced on me, and I am afraid that it’s not just about the money. It might also be about what sorts of chances I get to take with my own life and that of my family. It might be about how much fun we can have or whether we get to stay together at all.
A safety net is a very dangerous thing, even when you choose it yourself, because it can lull you into a false sense of security and make you less vigilant about real dangers. But a safety net that you cannot choose to discard is a noose around your neck.
Copyright 2013 Aya Katz – – Words and Images