Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Article excerpt

Insurance is a mug's game. It begins with a sensible attempt to guard against catastrophe and escalates into risk hysteria. With the onset of the cold weather, I only wanted to take out some simple cover on my radiators, but I ended up in a frantic scramble to insure myself against everything bad or even just mildly annoying that could possibly happen to a human being, ever.

Last winter, my boiler broke down so I made sure it was heavily insured this year.

Naturally, therefore, my boiler did not break down this year. My radiators leaked. Or rather one of them leaked and fell off the wall for good measure.

I rang British Gas who confirmed that I had opted out of radiator cover so I took the hit and called Tony the plumber. But as I'm really good at insuring things after the catastrophe has happened I also rang back and took out the radiator policy, just in case lightning strikes twice, which it won't now I've paid for it. I also asked them to cover me for leaking pipes. As my builder recently drilled into the water main while mounting a shelf, I thought it prudent to shut this particular stable door, too.

So, with insurance for boiler, radiators, pipes and drains, what possible household catastrophe could I now be vulnerable to?

As if by magic, the question was answered by Barclays sending me details of a new bank account featuring no fewer than 15 must-have insurances, including something called HomeSOS. On initial reading this looked like the cover I already had, but the nice man at the call centre informed me that it wasn't anything like my existing policy because: 'This insures you for all household emergencies to do with domestic appliances, and also covers you for rats, wasps' nests and other vermin.'

'Holy Moses, ' I thought. 'My current insurance doesn't cover me for wasp-related incidents. I need some of this.'

Within minutes I was the lucky owner of two household emergency policies for all things plumbing-orientated, along with additional cover for exploding toasters, selfcombusting washing machines and damage wrought by invasive insects.

Thus relieved, I asked the man to talk me through the rest of the cutting-edge minor inconvenience and snowball-in-hell policies on offer. I opted gratefully for a special kind of cardholder protection which insures you against losing your handbag in a foreign country and needing your keys, passport and mobile phone replacing. …

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