“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.
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.
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