Monday, May 4, 2009

Something’s Wrong Here

Guess what my car insurance company just gave me as a free service upgrade.

Accident forgiveness? Nope.

Reduced rates with more coverage? Nope.

Pet insurance?

That’s right. In this time of worldwide financial crisis, with many people out of work and others trying to subsist on terribly reduced savings, my car insurance company has seen fit to bless me with accident insurance for my pet if the pet is injured while in the car.

And there’s no deductible.

Last time I heard, there was a deductible if I got hurt in the car, but then again, it’s likely that I don’t understand my automobile insurance policy. Maybe there’s no deductible for me, either. But I do understand this new part of my policy, because the insurer sent me a special full-color page describing it. Too bad they’ve never sent me a similar page elucidating the ins and outs of my human coverage.

Do I begrudge pets this coverage? Yes, I do, because I don’t have an option not to carry it and that means I am paying for it buried in my rates. My insurance company charges every single customer for this supposedly free coverage by raising rates it could have held steady, by not reducing rates it could have discounted, and by not expanding coverage for humans. The very humans who are the company’s paying customers, unlike Muffy and Rex.

Look, I like animals, and I would never be deliberately unkind to any that aren’t invading the sanctity of my home. (Those that try, die. Come to think of it, I pretty much hold the same view when it comes to humans.) Still, I do not believe in wasting any precious human-grade resource on animals, be it food, shelter, or medical care. I don’t think animals should be made to undergo surgeries that prolong their lives yet subject them to continued pain and confusion. I don’t think dogs should live in tiny kennels, or on chains, and I hate seeing wild animals in cages in zoos. Pets are okay, and working animals are more than okay. Guard dogs? Good. Rodent-hunting cats? I’m for them. But unless they are sources of revenue, pets should not merit better treatment than we give other humans.

People ought to look around them at all the humans who need food, shelter, and medical care, and who are going without these resources. If you’ve got extra, before you pamper your pet with super-special food or other luxuries, ask yourself if you have at least donated the equivalent to some charity or other organization that helps people. If you haven’t, then what are you doing feeding sirloin steak to a dog? Or fresh salmon to a cat?

And where’s my no-deductible insurance for when a deer runs in front of my vehicle and I can’t stop? Or simply runs into the side of the car before I even see it? (I saw that happen one afternoon. A deer ran across a suburban yard into the road and banged into the side of a car, and bounced off. They do that.) But no, such no-deductible insurance apparently doesn’t exist. If I threw the half-dead deer into the back seat and called it a pet, would my auto insurance company pay for its life-saving care? Yes. From dime one. But if the deer caused me to lose control of the car and slam into a tree, I’d still be liable for a deductible while I’m being sent to the trauma center.

Something’s wrong here.

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