Since my husband begins a new job on Monday (woohoooooooo!), we have spent some time perusing the details of his new benefits; exploring our coverage options, figuring out the cost, when they take effect, etc, etc. As I looked over the materials, one unusual phrase seemed to stick out more than the rest.
ACCIDENTAL DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT COVERAGE
Huh? Dismemberment?! Is that common? Is it accidental death and accidental dismemberment, or is it dismemberment and accidental death? Precisely how many deaths each year are classified as “intentional?” For that matter, how many dismemberments aren’t?
So, I looked into it and discovered these fortifying morsels of information regarding the optional AD&D coverage. According to www.insurance.com, “In the event of a fatal accident or an accident that results in you losing your eyesight, speech, hearing, or a limb, AD&D will pay you or your beneficiaries a specified amount.”
OK. This seems like a good idea. Since I, like the Boy Scouts, am always prepared, I can see the advantages to expecting the unexpected, ie, planning for the possibility of dreadful injury caused in an unexpected accident. Which is to say, injury caused in the event of any accident; accidents being, by their very nature, a surprise. The article continues: “exclusions of AD&D coverage include death during surgery…bacterial infection… risky activities such as skydiving, car racing, and involvement in a war.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Excludes death during surgery? Excuse me, but who schedules a surgery without the specific intent of prolonging or improving quality of life? That seems to me to be an accidental death. Bacterial infection? Do you know anyone who’s contracted one of those on purpose?
Skydiving? Okay. Car racing? Eh. Involvement in a war? Excuse me, but aren’t these people at a higher risk of AD&D? Wouldn’t you rather charge them a higher premium, or make available to them a more expensive option in the event of their accidental death or dismemberment? And while we’re at it, why should military personnel be excluded?
Or are they?
Upon closer examination, this clause may have nothing whatsoever to do with persons enlisted in the military, as the phrasing is very vague. “Involvement in a war.” Should this be read to imply that victims of war crimes or wartime events will not be covered under policies that have been opened in preparation for precisely this purpose? Aside from the fact that the whole insurance thing is basically a scam anyway (Hey you schmuck, pay us your hard-earned money just in case something bad happens and if it does, we’ll cover a part of your outrageous medical bills, but if it doesn’t we’ll keep your money anyway!), isn’t that a little – how shall I put this? – screwed up? It’s a lot like property and automobile insurance companies not offering coverage for Acts of God, such as unforeseen weather damage, tidal waves or lightning strikes. Funny how a country that is trying it’s hardest to cut God out of every corner is rife with insurance companies that are allowed to worm their way out of doing their duty by invoking His name. Here’s a question for you: should atheists get coverage for Acts of God?
I say all of this to explain that I find the idea of accidental insurance to be very…icky. Nobody likes to think about the possibility of tragedy or harm striking their loved ones, nor should we be forced to dwell on the matter. The entire concept of charging people money for their emotional peace of mind is cloudy. I hate knowing that it is someone’s job to determine how many people will pass away this year from accidental dismemberment, and I hope that they have some really super-fun hobbies that take their mind off of their grim occupation. I also hate knowing that it is someone else’s job to find ways of not paying – and thereby, not helping – those who have suffered just such a tragedy. The ideas are right, but the execution of them is all wrong. You either exist to provide help to those in need, or you don’t, plain and simple. No special clauses, addendums, footnotes or fine print. Just help.
Please understand that my discomfort lies with life insurance policies, not health or automobile insurances. Insurance is a wonderful thing, and it exists in many forms. The technical definition of insurance is “protection against future loss.” Be it having a spare tire, locking your doors at night, going to the bathroom in pairs, writing answers to a quiz on your hand or having unopened chips and salsa in the pantry in case unexpected company comes over, we are all wired to be prepared and to provide insurance for ourselves and our families, protecting each other against future losses. I guess the best that we can hope for is that the guy in the office who reviews our fancy insurance policies is truly on our side and understands what its like when you can’t find that spare key that you could have sworn you left under the doormat, and what a pickle you’re in now because it’s missing. All we can do is trust that he has chosen this line of work with the intent of helping people through the most difficult times in their lives. We put a lot of faith in those people that we’ll never meet, hoping that they have our best interests at heart and will be there in our time of need.
But just in case he isn’t as responsible as he should be, I ask for all of you to do yourselves one simple favor. Please, keep your hands and arms inside moving vehicles at all times and wait until they have come to a complete stop.
P.S. My husband would like for me to include the fact that he will be working for a highly respected cellular phone company, thereby risking very little chance of accidental dismemberment.