Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Comments on Newsday Column

I'm taking a break from the issues surrounding the hurricane threat and it's effect on Long Island homeowners and flood insurance to talk about another area that is making our lives more interesting these days. It's another issue that is causing homeowners insurance policies to be canceled or restricted and is only going to get worse.

This morning's Newsday had a column by Ellis Henican entitled 'Hey Grownups! Stop stealing fun from our kids'. It talks about things like the disappearance of diving boards for home pools, changes in playground equipment in the name of safety, and the like. I enjoy his writing and he is, to a great extent, on the mark here. And I give him credit for NOT taking it as an opportunity to bash the insurance industry, which is part of the reason some of this stuff is disappearing.

The insurance industry was a major influence in the 1960's when car manufacturers were forced to stop building 'muscle cars' because of injuries and lawsuits. Cars are faster now than they were in the Sixties, but with air bags, anti-lock brakes, and other improvements, they are much safer too.

The key word in the above is LAWSUITS! We are the most lawsuit-crazy country in the world, and in particular, the corridor from Washington, D.C to Boston is just out of control. Every time someone injures themselves, whether it's spilling hot coffee in their lap or cutting themselves while illegally breaking in to a school, there is a lawsuit, and claims get paid. All you have to do is turn on some late night TV, and you will be sure to find some attorney saying 'if you've been hurt any time for any reason, call 1-800-FRIVOLOUS and we will get you some money.

To give you a further example, I am very active in the service group Rotary International. Clubs in our part of the world were asking the parent organization to provide a type of insurance known as Directors and Officers coverage, which has to do with being sued for not doing your proper job as a Director or officer of the group. They advised that we would have to purchase it ourselves, because the Northeast U.S. is the ONLY place in the world (ok, maybe California too) where people will sue charitable organizations and volunteers for this sort of thing, and they could not justify making clubs all over the world contribute to it.

Long Island homeowners insurance carriers, in addition to being worried about hurricanes, flooding, and the like, have started to crack down on trampolines, certain breeds of dogs, and other areas. Every time a dog nips someone, there is a lawsuit, and most times a payment. With trampolines and diving boards, and other things cited in the Newsday column, the problem is that nobody takes any responsibility for their own actions. We have been conditioned that there is always somebody to blame, and that money helps.

As always, for more information or assistance with a homeowners, flood, or any type of insurance question, visit our web site at