Michaela Merz

Insurance questions

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Do you know what is covered by your insurance policy? Or better, do you know what damages are not covered?

It is raining. Without end. After the hard winter and the inexistent spring it now looks as if we would get a rainy summer.

The pictures of the flooded villages and cities cause much pain for me. What suffering!! What blows of fate!

In 2002 there was a millennium flood in the Czech Republic. Rivers such as the Vltava, which flows through Prague nine metres below, overflowed its banks. At the National Theatre an additional two metres high wall had to be erected in order to protect the buildings. The water was merciless. It flooded the subway, reached the zoo and swept away several animals.

Since I was in the Czech Republic at that time, I helped here and there to rescue things. It was a futile and very frustrating fight. We carried the archive from the cellar to the first floor and also carried the furniture to the floor. At the end there was no space left in the first floor, it was just a huge store-room with all valuable goods. Until the water did what nobody had expected and also reached the first floor. We then carried the now valueless goods, damaged by water downstairs again and disposed them. A real Sisyphean task.

I spent the remaining days of my holidays with reading and interpreting insurance policies. Surprisingly often water damages from environmental events are excluded in these contracts. I thus became the messenger of bad news. BUT PLEASE DO NOT KILL THE MESSENGER, you signed the policy yourself.

After returning from my holidays I spent an entire weekend with all our insurance policies in order to understand what I have covered by an insurance policy and what not. I was convinced that I had set up everything in a clever way until my bike was stolen two weeks ago and I had to realise that I had excluded simple theft. That’s what one gets if one changes his behaviour (before I never left my bike alone, even if it was chained with three locks), but does not adapt the contracts.

Do you know how you are covered by all your insurance policies? And are your insurance gaps intended and manageable? These questions should be answered before the next flood. It might be too late afterwards.

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