Insurance is a Risk – Reward Calculation

Over the year’s I confess that I have taken great pride in the fact that I enjoyed good health and have not fallen victim to the “lifestyle” diseases that have cost our citizens so very much in terms of time and treasure.

I lost my parents and one brother much too early, in large part due to smoking. In fact, when we were cleaning out my parent’s place I held up the oxygen tubing to my siblings that continued to smoke and asked, “Should we just save this, because it’s just a matter of time for you guys?” Needless to say, it was not well received and yes, I have been called a brat by my siblings.
As Covid-19 infections spread across our country, we are learning a lot about our neighbors and friends that can be challenging. Some are absolutely convinced this is a hoax and it’s really no different than the “regular” flu. Others believe it was created as some sort of governmental control effort to subdue the population. The fact that the concept of wearing a mask has become political, is absolutely beyond my ability to understand.

Why would we not want to protect our neighbors, friends and family from falling victim to a very nasty disease? Because they have underlying conditions, like my family members, should I just say, “Too bad! It’s not my fault you smoked!”

Why would a family who tested positive say it was their “right” to go in public sans masks and follow it up with “If you are so afraid, just stay home”? I have to believe these words are said simply as a reactive response, rather than a thoughtful one. She stated it was all “a hoax”, so her premise for this behavior makes sense in some convoluted way. But she is also willfully ignorant of the facts about this pandemic.

Would wearing a mask in public for 8 weeks really change your life so much? If the CDC is right and that is what it takes to control the spread of disease, why not? As a “stable genius” once said, “what have you got to lose?” I would venture to say that no one will really lose much of anything if we can all get on the same page with following these simple guidelines.

As I listen to people talk about their freedom, I think of some of the many memes out there. One shows a soldier in full desert military gear, including a mask or scarf to protect the face. The caption asks if we can asks our military to wear this gear in 120 degree weather to defend our freedom, why can’t we wear a little mask for 30 minutes in the grocery store to protect each other?
Another says “when I wear a mask, it’s all about you. When you don’t wear a mask, it’s all about you, too.”

The financial costs of this pandemic have been astronomical and continue to grow. Bloomberg news reported an April study that US Life Insurers would pay out $7.2 billion in claims if we hit the “high end projections” of 150,000 deaths. We have almost hit that mark already and the year is just half over. The stimulus packages, the business loans, costs to small businesses that may never recover, the health insurance costs; the list of financial costs is almost endless. This does not account for the human cost of the deaths, people dying alone and the residuals suffered by those that recovered from the disease.

I don’t use AC at home until its 105 degrees. So I simply cannot get my head around the costs we are incurring and the fact that it simply didn’t have to be this way. I am in the insurance business. That means I think about the risk-reward equation. This column is titled “Insurance Insights”. With that in mind, I ask our readers to do a simple risk-reward calculation. Consider the effects of doing the following for the next 8 weeks: 1) Wear a mask in public 2) Observe social distancing 3) wash your hand while singing “happy birthday” twice. What do you have to gain as a community and as an individual? What do you have to lose as a community and as an individual?

Margaret R. Beck

Margaret Beck CLU, ChFC, CEBS started her insurance practice in Redding in 1978. She is the founder of Affiliated Benefit Services where businesses and individuals are assisted in choosing proper products, compliance with complex benefit laws and claims issues once coverage is placed.

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