Insurance Assurance

How often have you seen a news report on an apartment fire and heard these words from the reporter: “..and most of the occupants did not have insurance.”

English: Old Fire Insurance plaque at Little D...

English: Old Fire Insurance plaque at Little Durnford Manor House These metal plaques can often be seen on old buildings, and date from the time before the formation of municipal fire brigades. They were placed on fire insured buildings by the insurance company, to indicate the building was covered by their insurance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to wonder at how people could go without having their belonging insured against theft, fire, and other potential disasters.

I really am naïve about insurance and I would be the first to admit it. The only insurance that I have “purchased” was car insurance, though only collision and not comprehensive.

I am not sure when it dawned on me that “I” actually don’t have any renter’s insurance myself. If there were a fire in the buildings where I rented and lived; or if there were a plumbing mishap that led to losing my possessions; or if a burglar came in the night to rob me; I would have no way to replace my possessions, nor pay for emergency housing.

The People's Court

The People’s Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is a bit of a scary thought. I don’t know how many times I have heard “Judge Judy” grilling a plaintiff or defendant and asking if they had renter’s insurance accusingly as if they were negligent by not having protection against fire or theft. Judge Milian of “The People’s Court” is not as harsh in that situation.

House Fire

House Fire

I have a good reason why I haven’t had renter’s insurance over the past twenty-odd years. I have never been able to afford it unless I decided to cut out on necessary expenses like food, heat, power, phone… It is true that I have a computer, but that’s something that for myself, I count along the lines of having a phone. I use the computer in a lot of my volunteer work and much of the time I have been using hand-me-down computers or ones I have cobbled together from spare parts. (One reason why I really hate to throw out outdated computer hardware.)

Garnisons Kirke (Garrison Church), Copenhagen,...

Garnisons Kirke (Garrison Church), Copenhagen, Denmark. Headstone for I.P.E.Hartmann. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cost of renter’s insurance would be a significant chunk of my budget. (My total budget isn’t huge.) That is as much as I would love to be insured. The same goes for most life insurance. I’d love to have enough life insurance to pay for my debts and funeral if nothing else. I don’t have any dependants. The closest thing do dependants I have being my Mother, Sister, Brother-in-law, and Friends. They are not really dependants, but would be more those who might inherit what I leave behind me.

English: ALH House Striking red brick building...

English: ALH House Striking red brick building at the corner of High Street and Queensway, Hemel Hempstead. Now housing insurance company offices. http://www.dacorum.gov.uk/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think when they mention on news reports that victims of an apartment or house fire have no insurance, it is not disparaging. I think it is to encourage the community to rally around the victims to replace what they have lost. At least the normal physical possessions. Things like treasured photos or other items of sentimental value can’t be replaced.

I wonder… what if there were a form of insurance backed by the government for low-income families? I know insurance companies might call “foul” out of fear of losing profit. But… I am talking of folks that wouldn’t be able to pay for insurance in any case. Or… does something like this actually exist?

DWPenner

Transit Siege

On a recent bus-ride I was frustrated by a common habit that public transit users have.

I live near a rapid transit hub where bus routes tend to start and end. It means that often buses leaving the hub are filled to capacity — meaning that there are many folks standing in the bus, even outside of “rush hour“. This also occurs for buses heading into the hub, having picked up many people with the common destination of the transit hub.

PASSENGERS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, WAITING FOR TH...

PASSENGERS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, WAITING FOR THEIR METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS DURING RUSH HOUR. RIDERSHIP INCREASED 27 PERCENT FROM 1970 TO 1974 WHEN IT REACHED 73,727,000 PASSENGERS. THE INCREASE OCCURRED FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS, INCLUDING NEW BUSES, NEW ROUTES, NIGHT SERVICE 100-PASSENGER WAITING SHELTERS (SEE PHOTO), FRINGE PARKING AND A DECREASE IN FARE FROM 40 TO 15 CENTS, 06/1974 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is fair enough, it means that public transit on those routes are at capacity. With that much popularity, it is more likely that there will be increases in frequency on the bus route and perhaps added routes.

The bad habit I have found that standing passengers have is that they all want to stand in the doorway of the bus. That means standing in the area in front of the back doorways or standing up close to the driver. I have in the past ridden standing by the rear doorway of the bus. You can lean against a partition there on either side of the door. That makes for a more comfortable ride while standing. Standing near the front doors or the back, makes it so that you have to squeeze past fewer people when you reach your stop.

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID ...

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. IN 1974 THE SYSTEM… – NARA – 556797 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This causes a few problems.

One problem is that there is always a crowd standing by the exits that you have to squeeze through. Often at the rear doors I have seen commuters step out of the bus to allow someone off. That would be unnecessary if people weren’t nesting in the door well. This is after having squeezed past other standing commuters.

The other problem is that with all the people wanting to stand at the front of the bus, it makes it so that fewer passengers can ride. There is no room for people to squeeze into the front entrance of the bus. There might be plenty of room at the back of the bus, but no way for an entering commuter to reach it. It might even be hard for the driver to see that the back third of the bus is still available.

That means that people are left behind at the stop.

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID ...

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. IN 1974 THE SYSTEM… – NARA – 556795 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drivers in the past would request that passengers move to the rear of the bus, but I haven’t heard that request of late. I think it has to do with potential aggressive behaviour by some unstable riders. Some at least still request that people vacate the front seats that are reserved for the disabled, seniors, and adults with baby strollers.

A solution… perhaps education… but, the heart is perhaps a growing lack of consideration on the part of transit users. Sometimes, perhaps education might work on people that are at heart considerate. The are the folks who didn’t realize that their actions were inconsiderate. But it seems that there many who don’t care so long as their needs are met.

English: The Toronto Transit Commission's CLRV...

English: The Toronto Transit Commission’s CLRVs #4049 and #4090 travel east on King Street East while serving the 504 King streetcar route during morning rush hour. The first car is routed to short turn at Parliament Street while the second will continue to the route’s eastern terminus at Broadview Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A need for fewer standing commuters is probably another, albeit more expensive solution.

I know on some routes, in particular the “BLine” bus routes, passengers are allowed to both alight and depart via all doors unless they actually have to pay at that stop. Meaning if they already have a valid fare receipt or a bus pass they can enter at any door. If they have to pay cash or initiate a fair-saving ticket they still have to board up front.

Still I think standing commuters will tend to nest by the doors.

I hope the street-level light rapid transit comes soon on the busiest routes. (The modern versions of “streetcars” are returning in major cities.)

I hope you consider other passengers when you travel public transit!

DWPenner