Monday, September 5, 2005

No Assurance Without Insurance

One of the themes I’ve heard repeatedly from conservative pundits and bloggers regarding the ongoing human tragedy of Hurricane Katrina is this idea that those who did not evacuate are somehow responsible for the horrible plight they find themselves in. While the media has done a fairly good job in reporting that many who stayed behind did so because they had no means of transportation or, if they did have transportation, not enough money to make use of it, I think they’ve neglected another key variable – insurance.

People who have insurance (like my wife & I) often take it for granted. We just sort of assume that everybody has it. Unfortunately, such an assumption is false.

Insurance is quite expensive. If your family is struggling to pay the monthly rent/mortgage and put food on the table, insurance is a luxury you probably can’t afford. So, you hope that nobody gets deathly ill, you’re not involved in an accident or no one falls on your property. If any of these things does occur, it will probably decimate you financially.

Consequently, insurance provides a bit of a safety net and a healthy piece of mind. If you have home owner’s and auto insurance, you can get the heck out of Dodge knowing that these things eventually will be replaced. In other words, you will have something to come back for.

If you have no insurance AND you live day-to-day or month-to-month, leaving behind the little you have becomes a far more dicey situation. If you are a renter (and most of the poor don’t own their own home), you don’t want to give up your space. If you are evacuated to a location far from home, by the time you get back, your space may be rented to someone else. Then what in the heck will you do?

And what about your meager belongings? You don’t have the money to replace them or the funds to get new stuff. Faced with this kind of no-win situation, I can easily understand why some people decided to stay put and try to weather out the storm. They chose not to evacuate simply because they felt it was paramount to hold on to the little they could call their own.

It’s tragic and unfortunate that the poor are faced with such predicaments. However, it’s EVEN more tragic that those who are more well off judge such people by their own experience and reality, not the reality these people face everyday…even during and after a hurricane.

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