Insurance industry shouldn’t play God

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I’m no lexicographer, but I would love to propose a new definition for the word “insurance.”

My definition would be a simple, two word description: Legal robbery.

Raise your hand if you couldn’t live without your present insurance company; auto, life, health, homeowners, whatever.

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Now, ask yourself a question: Why are the biggest buildings in the world owned by insurance companies?

It’s pretty simple math, folks. Your money supports their lives.

And it’s all legitimate.

The most recent insurance giant to choose money over life and gain notoriety is CIGNA, a Philadelphia based company that thrives on my definition of its specialty.

To make a long story short, CIGNA denied 17 year-old Nataline Sarkisyan her chance to reach adulthood. She needed a liver transplant. They said, “no way.” She died.

Her family, legitimately enraged by the fact that the company who was supposed to provide them health insurance didn’t live up to their end of the deal, trekked cross-country to confront CIGNA’s executive officer, Edward Hanway.

Were these former customers … people from whom CIGNA gladly accepted premium dues … granted their very basic request to speak eye-to-eye with the man who made the decision to let their daughter die?

Of course not.

Instead, their underwear was filled with smoke by his underling before police were called to escort them from the premises. Suddenly, the company they had paid for protection treated them as an enemy.

The entire, sorry scene is available on YouTube.

Just type “sleazy, dollar-driven, non-sympathetic, I’ve gotta make my company tons of money to ensure my seven figure salary” into the search box.

Don’t be surprised if the name of somebody you know pops up.

Sadly, the Sarkisyan scene plays out every day, though usually without this much attention. John Grisham’s “The Rainmaker” was an excellent fictional rendition of insurance gluttony taking precedence over life. And who hasn’t seen John Q., the real-life Denzel Washington movie about, you guessed it, insurance greed?

But in both of those movies, the insurance company lost.

Most of the time (remember those big buildings and salaries), they win. Why? Because average Joe’s like us don’t have the money to fight them. Once they deny a claim, which is standard practice for most initial claims, they know that the vast majority of their clients won’t press the “liar” button because they can’t afford a lawsuit.

Sadly, it’s all of our money combined that they stockpile and use against us to keep the upper hand.

They literally bank on our acceptance of the fact that they are willing to take our money to “insure” us, when all they really do is take our money.

The only “sure” thing about insurance is that your money is “sure” to remain “in” somebody else’s pocket.

This “money above everything else” attitude is a corporate culture, and our laws allow them to be really good at it.

Pardon me for being ticked off about people driving their BMWs from the office to a three-story suburban home while the very people who support their lifestyles suffer because they don’t honor their promises. Look for my apology at the bottom of this article. It’s in very, very small print.

I’m sure there are good insurance companies. My auto insurance agent, Gary Leach, has always treated me fairly and I’ve heard many good things about Dickess Insurance.

But overall, the major insurance companies have about the same amount of positive press as al Qaeda.

CIGNA recently showed the Sarkisyan family the same respect any terrorist would give to an adversary.

There isn’t a pit in hell deep enough for people who play God with other people’s lives.

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at