Column: Roger's Soapbox

Perspective | In England, Insurance Is Above the Law

By: | July 30, 2018

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected].

I was quite old when I was sent to the government re-education center. This being England, not Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China, there was a fair chance I’d emerge from detention alive. The force driving my punishment was not ideological dissidence — if it were, I’d have been shot years ago.

This also not being Hitler’s Germany, my accuser was not a neighbor or a family member, but a robot. First law of robotics: You cannot argue with a mechanical device. When a robot categorizes you as criminal, that’s what you are. No due process required.

The robot in question was a speed camera. Ever vigilant, it photographed me driving at 39 miles an hour along a street where the limit was 30. The police documents explained that no excuse was possible, no circumstance mitigating. I didn’t fight the law, and the law won.

Britain operates a points system for drivers. Twelve points bring automatic license suspension. The three points my speeding would earn didn’t much faze me. I don’t own a car but rent one for special occasions. I do that rarely, so my chances of obtaining nine more points are tiny. Why, then, did I subject myself to four hours of accusation, condemnation and condescension?

It wasn’t fear of the law; it was fear of insurance. The greater the points, the greater the premium.

Why did I subject myself to four hours of accusation, condemnation and condescension? It wasn’t fear of the law; it was fear of insurance.

Re-education erases the potential three points as if nothing happened. One becomes, once again, in the eyes of the law, a person who has never committed a crime. It’s a valuable status in case one ever does want to commit a crime. Previous good behavior is currency when you give the swine downstairs exactly what they deserve.

Re-education means I could be named a Justice of the Peace or run for high office without fear of the skeleton in my closet. I will enjoy no such status, however, with the company that insures the next vehicle I rent. One of the questions asked when you rent a car, or renew insurance on your own vehicle, is, ‘Have you recently been caught speeding?’

Lying is not advised.

Insurance is, therefore, above the law, and that ain’t right. If it’s good enough for the police and the state to treat me as blemish-free, why can’t insurance companies?

Wait, I hear something. Ah, it’s readers explaining that their business is based on experience, period.

It must be their experience that informs the decision to refuse to insure me when I reach 71 years of age. Not worth the risk, the companies say.

I’ll have to buy a car instead. If I buy a car at that age, every insurance company in Britain would be delighted to insure me — at an increased premium because of a crime police records show me not to have committed. They might just as well load the premium for my part in the Valentine’s Day Massacre. No, wait, forget I said that, and don’t go getting ideas.

Should I reach 71, the notion of a life sentence won’t mean very much. It will be time to start being very nice to me. Motor insurers, kindly take note. &

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