Thursday, January 14, 2010

Taking Responsibility

I knew a fellow who refused to buy life insurance.  He said, "I don't bet against myself."  I looked at him with squinty eyes and shook my head.  As I recall, he bought other types of insurance only if required, by the government for his cars and by his lender for his house.

Even though I have confidence in myself, I've maintained many kinds of insurance, including blanket liability.  I know I can do some pretty stupid things and no matter how healthy I like to think my lifestyle is, something could happen.  Look at Jim Fixx, the sudden death of a runner.  But I'm more worried about losses caused by someone or something else -- a deer through the windshield, a malfunctioning brake, inclement weather.

Why blanket liability?  Partly because of the famous lawsuit against McDonald's involving spilled hot coffee.  Someone might sue me for something I can't imagine.

When we visited New Zealand ten years ago, we signed up to kayak in Doubtful Sound.  The outfitter laughed when I said, "Aren't you going to ask us to sign a release?"  "You're assuming the risk," he said.  "You wouldn't get into court in New Zealand."

"That's how it should be," says Virginia.  "We'd be much better off in this country if we required everyone to accept responsibility."

Not long ago I hit my head on a tree branch.  "Stupid tree," I said.

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