"Highlighting the inadequacies of the way in which the earthquakes of 2010-2012 were handled by the insurance industry! "

“No Bulls, No Bears, Only Pigs”: The Occupy Movement and the Insurance Industry


“No Bulls, No Bears, Only Pigs” were the words written on an Occupy Wall Street protest banner in the U.S. recently. The insurance industry and the banking industry are two sides of the same coin. Certainly it is quite clear from the events that have transpired in Christchurch that the same standard of morality applies.

An assortment of United States coins, includin...

An assortment of United States coins, including quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The entanglement between the insurance and banking industries makes the insurance industry just as big a target as banking. Unless insurance policies are activated by events, most people believe that they are protected from the elements and will be able to weather the ‘storms’ without their financial status being compromised. Yet because disaster takes place in single areas, people mostly never discover or test the real facts. Even when told about what is taking place they have real difficulty believing that the stories can possibly be true. Well I am afraid to say they are… there are so many thousands of Cantabrians who can vouch for that. Those who are unhappy with insurers performance are in the vast majority and those who are happy have very probably only suffered minimal damage as a consequence of the earthquakes or are not aware of the true extent of the damage to their property.

In Christchurch insurance profits have soared post-earthquakes as they have done everywhere else in times of disaster. For many of us this would seem counter-intuitive.

The insurance industry is an industry funded by fear- when a big event takes place those in nearby places watch in horror and are reminded of their own vulnerability- so what do they do -they rush off to increase their cover. Is that what you did?… Yes this is what happens… You will notice that the amount of insurance advertising increased dramatically right after the earthquakes, on the television and in the local papers. Insurers have also been sponsoring community events- anything for some positive media attention.

For some insurance companies, their market share in Canterbury will have been very badly affected by their performance. There is no doubt that there will be thousands of Cantabrians who go elsewhere for their ‘insurance fix’ next time round. Once bitten, twice shy- that’s for sure! The reality is that for those of you not affected, it may be very difficult to imagine what the real situation would be if you had to draw on that expensive cover you have purchased  – I hope you will never have the need to use it.  Cantabrians have become experts on insurance cover over these past five and a half years. There is a wealth of history and knowledge about the industry and in the main, experiences are not good. If you want to know how your insurer performed or is performing ring a few Cantabrians- the stories you are likely to hear will astound you.

Recently, during one of the insurance protests I attended we were sharing the same ground with a group of  ‘Occupy Movement’ protestors. At the time I did not think too much of it. They were carrying their banners and we ours. But as time has progressed I have come to understand that both groups are fighting the same battle. Yes, though our battle is more targeted – the insurance industry.

But what has become ever increasingly clear is that they/we are one and the same group- faced with increasingly greedy corporates with no other interest than their shareholders and following through on the antisocial policies of their boards of directors.  We the affected people represent little more than their next meal ticket. The occupy movements slogan is….

We are the 99%.  We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

I have come to understand throughout this Canterbury experience that it is true that the government by the people and for the people has become a thing of the past, our democratic process has become seriously compromised and dramatic change is required.

                                                            ~Future Proofing for a sustainable, participatory, democratic society.

If you would like to contribute a post on this topic then see Guest Archives.

Author: Sarah-Alice Miles

Love to write, create and watch the clouds move across the sky - these days in the Netherlands. 'Art allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time'.

5 thoughts on ““No Bulls, No Bears, Only Pigs”: The Occupy Movement and the Insurance Industry

  1. At times all of us come up against unfair practices and it is important to fight for your rights. Letters to the papers help but it also pays to keep on making contact with your MP’s because at the end of the day that is a part of their job so do not be backward at
    coming forward. With any disputes keep all copies of correspondence by creating a file and regard the dispute as a game of chess, ie they make a move and then you counter with your own move. From experience I have found that at times it is easy to lose your cool and if you then write a letter or email do not send it straight away but sleep on the matter and in the morning
    you may have some better thoughts or ideas. Use the Dale Carnegie technique, ask yourself what is the very worst outcome for me and my family so that you are prepared for the worst, often matters can become resolved with a better outcome for you.
    Do not allow yourself to become bitter and do not brood about the way things are going, retain your sense of humour and try to
    get on with your life but never give up and never give in while fighting for your rights.

    Kind Regards
    Johann Nordberg


    • Dear Johann, thank you for your response. I take the contents as an encouragement to just hang in there. Similar messages have come my way over the past two years and although I appreciate the gesture and the advise, I feel I need to expand upon your email. I sense that you are not from Christchurch yourself or that you live in an area of town that is less affected where business and life goes on an usual. Let me share some of my experience. After the September 4 earthquake our house was deemed uninhabitable and beyond repair by EQC. Our claim was redirected to our private insurers. It was at this point that I started to research insurance company behaviour after major natural disasters. What I discovered came as an ‘aftershock’, you can read about that in my book. What I need you to know is that since September 4 like so many other people here we have had to improvise. We live with my father, we house sit, people offer us quake breaks elsewhere in the country. We have not slept in our own bed for 27 months! That hurts. We have had to pack all our possessions in boxes, we haven’t touched them since. The other day while in the house we discovered that the mattresses and bed linens were going mouldy. Meanwhile around town people are being told that their repairs will not start until 2015, 2016, 2017- 5,6,7 years after the initial event. We are a middle aged couple who were hoping to settle somewhere near Nelson, to enjoy the golden days of early retirement and dream a little. I consider myself resilient, but what if you are over 75 and you have to wait 6 or 7 years for your home to be repaired? There are many such people in Christchurch who are running out of life- their futures and lives are at stake. The struggles here are more profound and deeper than the Dale Carnegie technique can resolve.
      And humour I have- you may not be acquainted with the book title “You Know You’re From Christchurch When…” by Bruce Raines. We would not have got this far had we not been able to laugh. We hold our ground, we have learned to help and support each other in times of great need, and it is clear that for many the struggle is far from over- perhaps in five to ten years we can sit back and finally relax. If you are based in Christchurch I’d love to have a cup of coffee with you and a chat. Feel free to spread this message to your friends.


      • Hi Sarah,

        In response to your message I live in Auckland but I have a very good idea of what you are all going through. The media coverage has been extensive and I have listened on the radio to many accounts of suffering and tragedy. On the tv I have seen horrendous
        sights and I have read thousands of words in the newspapers. I have a vivid imagination and it quickly became apparent to me
        that the residents who had suffered trauma and loss would have many problems for a long time especially with insurance claims
        and dealings with local and central government. I feel for all those residents who are being given the runaround and I have sent many letters to various newspapers, unfortunately a lot of my letters have not been published. A lot of concerned people in NZ
        have contributed to the various relief funds and many of us continue to worry about you and the other residents and many prayers have been said on behalf of the people who continue to suffer in Christchurch.

        Kind Regards


      • Hi Sarah,

        Sarah can you please tell me in your opinion, who are the four most effective outfits providing daily help and assistance to the
        deserving people who have suffered in Christchurch as a result of the earthquakes.

        Thanks in advance


      • I have asked several other people as well so the list is more balanced- we have come up with the following in no particular order: City Mission, Salvation Army, Presbytarian Support, Addington Action.


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