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The Cat In Your Hat

holding your own

Those who hold high places left you holding a near-empty toolbox ...
or as luck would have it!

It's YOUR Call

the power to determine
by Antone P. Braga

We have all heard about questioning authority and it usually refers to authority in the form of law or government. However, there is authority to question much closer to home—our own.

In addition to "the power to determine," authority is also the basic right to control and command what is ours, though often subject to a higher authority. Our habit to relinquish it is pervasive so as to eradicate the concept of personal authority. It becomes difficult to know what is ours to determine and what is trumped by some other. And, naturally if giving up authority means an easier way, it is often taken. Being less sure from the outset and then to find what appears an easier path is quite an invitation for unconcern. At that exact juncture of capitulation is the matter for focus and most concern. Once you surrender authority it is very difficult to regain.

Take the phrase "insurance claim," a simple enough concept. Obviously the one making the claim must have the authority to make that claim. Well, that's how it used to be! Sometimes for good reason, claims for damaged property are made for more than insurance companies would like. However, if those claims are unfounded or out of line in the companies' opinion, they are settled by a higher authority—arbitration or the courts. So, what better way to quell claims than to take away the authority to make them. How can they do that you ask? Simple. Remove the word "claim," from the insurance policy. Where is your authority now? You still own the property at issue, and you paid for the insurance, but you no longer have the right to make a "claim." New words now appear instead. You can get your "loss" adjusted the way the insurance company sees fit, and your right to make a claim no longer exists. This is really not an exaggeration. Whether or not someone enforces wording could be based on luck, could be based on what kind of a mood that person is in that day. But if it comes down to brass tacks, and those words are there, you can bet that sooner or later they are going to get used, and enforced. They're not words that were just put there idly. They have distinct reason for existing. The primary reason I believe they appear is that people had an apathy towards wanting it that way, because they didn't want to look past the veil. They didn't want to understand. They didn't want to take the responsibility. They'd rather someone else assume it, and giving up responsibility is not a good bargain when you give up authority. Your own authority is a terrible thing to lose.

We need to look at this stark reality much closer: please see "A Post-mortem." There are a multitude of valid reasons why we need to keep the right to make a claim that disagrees with an insurance company. You can't expect that you're going to lay your problems at the feet of insurance and have them assume your responsibility, and guide you, when they are are on the other side of the table in a business transaction—a two party contract, because that's all that insurance is. We have to get an understanding of at least the basic concept, and somehow drown out the din of advertising that says otherwise.

Actually this is a mild version of what constitutes a claim. If you go back in time, the older dictionaries had a much more vigorous and emphatic way to describe a claim. It used to be that it was to assert with readiness to maintain; to forcefully extract what you were entitled to. Now it has become softened and they've liberalized the meaning, but still, if you look at this meaning, this is what you've lost the right to do. This is what stood for centuries—ever since insurance was invented—and now is gone from many policies. This is being taken away.

It is no favor to have your responsibility taken away when it means losing your right of authority. But that really comes down to responsibility and authority. They go hand in hand. You can't ignore one and have the other go on. You must take responsibility, and if you can't assume that responsibility, if you're unable to interpret, or understand, or calculate, or formulate, or negotiate, or whatever it takes to get that job done, then you should look to someone who doesn't have something to lose in the transaction, because actually the insurance company has its own interest to protect. The more they pay, the less they keep. You too have a separate interest to protect.

When buying and selling property it is obvious who is the buyer and seller. A seller would never relinquish authority over to the buyer. Just imagine, you let the buyer take over your say to determine what you get paid and set the terms of the sale. That would seem downright daft, even to a child. Yet it is now our lot and needs serious questioning. A claim is the right to say, "This is mine and this is what I'm entitled to because of this, that and the other." It is the basic, intrinsic right and authority that we have, be it in the sale of our property or in presenting what is owed on that property, unless and until we negotiate and settle.

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Help on the way: this content is local to your area in that it affects virtually everyone in your area, indirectly or directly: property insurance policyholders. When the next news stories run having to do with a local disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, etc., perhaps think of those disaster survivors and to what extent you may have helped in their preparedness and recovery. Thank you for any help you give.


What is your philosophy: drive or be driven? I happen to think we are wise to keep our drive alive.

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