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Raise consequences for human injuries

I had a front row seat to witness the ugly side of insurance this past weekend.

No, this isn’t another of my many rants about insurance companies.  This time it’s insurance itself that is the problem.

Insurance protects us from risk.  In the case of liability insurance, the risk is that you cause someone injury and have to come up with a bunch of money to fairly compensate the victim.

If you have liability insurance, your  insurance company pays instead of you.

That’s exactly what you buy from ICBC as your basic autoplan insurance.  If you run over a child in a crosswalk, you pay a small deductible and ICBC takes care of the rest.

Do you see a problem with that?  On a strict financial analysis, why bother watching out for kids in crosswalks?

Back to my front row seat.  I didn’t see anyone driving blindfolded through a school zone, but what I witnessed was mighty close.

My wife and three little monkeys, aged 5, 7 and 10, spent last weekend at Big White.  Friends of ours happened to be there as well, but staying in fancier accommodations.

Our friends were staying at Sundance Resort.  It’s a beautiful place, complete with a waterslide equipped pool and hot tubs.  We hung out with them Saturday evening.

This is where the front row seat comes in.  The pool and hot tubs are outside.

You highfalutin ski resort goers might find this second nature.  Not me.  In Saskatchewan, where I come from, we frolic in indoor pools in the winter time.

On the face of it, relaxing in a hot tub in sub-zero weather has some appeal.  That’s what led us to get into our bathing suits and gingerly walk barefoot down a snow crusted cement walkway.

It didn’t occur to me, until my bare feet had completely lost traction, that a fresh layer of ice would be formed every time someone got out of the hot tub and dripped their way down the path.

It was absolutely insane.  I couldn’t have conceived of a more dangerous walking surface.

An adult with a little more foresight than me, stone cold sober, would make an informed decision to stay the heck away from that hot tub.  Fail to do so, and you would be assessed partly at fault for being the author of your own misfortune.

Adults staying at a resort can be expected to take down a bit of alcohol.  Loss of sobriety brings about a corresponding loss of judgment.

This is also a family resort.  There were kids in the hot tub.  Their parents would have allowed them out to swim, reasonably expecting a safe resort environment.

How could such a dangerous situation be allowed to exist?

I blame it on insurance.  The owners are not financially motivated to carefully assess such dangers because their liability insurance has eliminated the financial risk such dangers pose.

You might hope that the insurance company would be financially motivated to ensure such a dangerous situation is rectified, but obviously that hope is misplaced.  Insurance companies spread their risk over hundreds and thousands of properties and collect premiums sufficient to pay out the odd head injury.

How do we expect property owners, and drivers for that matter, to be accountable with liability insurance in play?  In my view, there ought to be more significant consequences to causing another human being to suffer an injury than paying a deductible.

What do you think about a forehead tattoo?  Any other ideas?

Published January 19, 2012 in the Kelowna Capital News