Lockdown Day 334 – 24 February 2021 – Motives and Agendas

Have you ever wondered how it works that you think of something and then suddenly it is as if many other people also think that same thing? It happened to my this morning.

I scan through Facebook and on one of the philosophical discussion groups, somebody posted:  “We have been mindfucked, and now the great unfuck must begin.”

How does that tie in with my thoughts?

Yesterday evening the wife and I watched New Amsterdam. The social worker is part of the episode. And when I see her, I know how it will end. Suddenly I realize that social workers and the welfare system are typecast in films and series. My words to my wife were, we have a serious problem and it is costing us much and we pay too much for it.

I do not watch a lot of movies or series, yet, I suddenly realized that there is a trend. My question is “WHY?”

If you look carefully, you will see the same thing with the church and ministers of religion.

Now, understand me here, I am not saying that the welfare system or the church is above criticism, not at all. They should be held at very high standards. I am not denying that bad things happen in the welfare system, foster care and orphanages and the church. You do not want to get me going about the church! That is something for another day, perhaps.

Both the church and the welfare system are the two institutions that work to make the world a better place. Bear with me for a moment and forget the negatives.  It is the church how preaches peace and forgiving. It is the church who preaches love your neighbour, it is the church who preaches do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. Well, not really the church, the Bible, but the church is the messenger. Those are all positive values. If we were to live by those values, the world will be a much better place and a lot of our problems will disappear.

IF we lived according to the above mentioned Biblical values, we would probably need a smaller welfare system, if at all. I know a few people who came through the welfare system and are much better off than the alternative. It is never the ideal to grow up in an orphanage, but it is surely better than alcoholic, unemployed and dysfunctional parents? Since we do not live by the Golden Rule of DOING unto others, welfare has much less funds than defense (I might be wrong here). Still, the point is, the welllfare system has a positive goal and in most cases do good.

Which brings me to the why?  Why do films and series like to focus on the negative side of the two positive institutes in society? Yes, I know it is sort of the Good Samaritan story.

A pastor in a sermon once changed the story to make it understandable to children and said: “The deacon walked by. Then the elder walked by. Then the pastor walked by.” To which one of the kids exclaimed: “The bastard.” Social workers and pastors who act against what we expect, raise the emotions. It serves the plot – but at what cost?

At 61 years, I am more and more questioning people’s motives and agendas. From the politician to the social media influencer, more and more I wonder:  “What is the motive? What is the agenda? Why is it important to him or her?” “Why should I subscribe to this?”

What is my agenda? My agenda is to be more critical of the things I read and hear. To challenge it. To evaluate it against facts and my own value system. To measure it against reality (whatever that is).

Long ago I was at a seminar presented by an investment company. An ex-colleague (financial planner) was sitting behind me and shared her opinions loudly – all such unfounded  generalizations. When I could not take it anymore, I turned around and asked: “On what good scientific research do you base those statements?” She replied:  “I worked as receptionist for a law firm for 18 months. I KNOW” Indeed.

But that is my agenda. I hope, now that you have read this, you will ask yourself:  “Is there merit in this?” I hope that you will be more vigilant about people messing with your mind. That you will be aware there are people deliberately trying to mess with your mind.

The sad part is this:  the biggest influencer is not the media – it is my own prejudices, my own, unchallenged preconceptions, the unchallenged wisdom that gets conveyed from generation to generation. Those one-liners that have that easy rhythm and sounds so logical.

 

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Lockdown Economy – Is Forex Trading The Answer?

Lockdown has a terrible effect on the economy – worldwide. We are paying a huge price for the stupid notion that some jobs and businesses are “essential and others not.” The economy simply does not work like that. The economy is like a very complicated machine. Just imagine somebody randomly decides that a 1st gear in a car is essential, but not the 3rd or 4t gear! Preposterous.

Many people today are having financial problems. Every failed business not only affects the owners and employees of that business, but also the suppliers to that business and people. It is the domino effect.

That leads to me reading that more and more people are looking at Forex Trading as a way to make money. Here I will share a few thoughts.

  1.  Forex Trading is speculation – you buy something in the HOPE that you can sell at a higher price, or sell in the hope that you can buy at a lower price. Another word for speculation is gambling. I am not offended by this, because it keeps me realistic about Forex Trading.
  2. Statistics show that more than 75% of retail traders lose money. That means that before you jump in, you should be very sure why you will be part of the profitmaking minority.
  3. Beware of the 3 trades wonders. Forex Trading is a marathon. It is not the 3 lucky trades that count. It is not the one day of profits that count, it is the profits of months and years that count. On a Forum somebody was very excited that he had three profitable trades in a day, which, according to him, proves his strategy works.
  4. In trading mindset will be your biggest enemy – the enemy is within. Discipline (SELF discipline) is the thing that will determine your success. If sudden wealth exposes character, trading is the best activity to expose all sorts of character flaws. You will have to conquer yourself before you conquer the markets!
  5. As always, invest in yourself BEFORE you invest your money. Learn and study and practice. The guys at Babypips.com has an excellent free course. Do not pay for any trading course before you have successfully completed the Babypips course. Once you have completed Babypips, you can also do this free course:
    Free SIMPLE & EASY FOREX COURSE

This course is also free and will help you understand a few entry and exit strategies.

Before you invest any real money, please trade on a demo account until you are consistently profitable, Any strategy will have losing streaks. You should trade on a demo account so that you know the losing streaks and have the confidence that the strategy WILL be profitable again. Unless you have this confidence, you will start messing with the strategy the moment it starts losing. And then you have lost.

 

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Lockdown day 214 – 27 October 2020 – Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Several of my friends and clients complain about feeling tired. Friday, 23 October 2020, I was tired beyond measure. I went to bed Friday night and slept to 14h30 on Saturday. And almost repeated the process on Sunday! “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast!”

This is my story.

Lockdown is a bugger – I do not go out to see clients or for business as I would normally do. The illusion is that I am not doing ANYTHING, and I drive myself to keep busy and chase the goals or I feel guilty. I think there is an underlying COVID-19 stress with most of us.

Effects of Lockdown

I can see the effects of the Lockdown, which adds to the stress. I see it in my activity to try and save cancelled policies, I see it in the number of shop windows covered with newspaper, I see it in the new people at the robots. I think COVID-19 is like a low volume, irritating buzz in the background that just will not stop. It causes stress, even if we are not aware of it.

The result of all this is that I am busier than normal, take less time out and there is the low level “hum” in the background.

Rest is Important!

On the 14th my wife went for an operation (everything fine, grateful to report). Late to bed and early to rise, I started the day with a lack of sleep. When I say goodbye at the theatre doors, I feel an immense sadness. Instead of going home and having a restful coffee, or even taking time to get back in bed, I rush around to get everything done, so I can be back at the hospital when she comes out of the theatre. The keyword is rush – and rushing is not in my nature! I always build in too much lead time.

Anybody who has had somebody in hospital will know that it is detrimental to a routine. Which simply means Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (when she leaves the hospital) does not go anywhere close to what even a normal lockdown day goes.

Monday, Monday – not all I had hoped it to be!

relaxWhen Monday comes it is not all I had hoped it to be (with apologies to The Mamas and Papas). I am tired, but I must work, work, work. It is lockdown, the economy is down, the ANC has “lost” 2/3 of the international assistance funds. As Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs sang: “We owe, we owe, it is off to work we go.” (Good luck, Tito. I trust you to stand up for what is right and don’t envy you your task.)

Starting a week like this is not a good thing. I am irritated and frustrated, because things go too slowly, people ask stupid questions and obviously do not read my emails, if they even respond to an email!

Hello Caffeine, my Bridge over Troubled Times

To make things worse, I do exactly what Elizabeth Dostal years ago told us not to do. She said when you have an energy slump, take some time out. Take a power nap. Don’t try to power through it. But me?  I drink coffee and more coffee to keep going. What a combination. Feeling tired, all the caffeine not conducive to good sleep, more coffee – a vicious downward spiral. I am not sure what is ringing louder, my ears or nerves! (Caffeine is only good in moderation, like everything else.)

Finally, Friday evening I listen to Simon & Garfunkel:

“Slow down, you move to fast, you got to make the morning last, just kicking down the cobblestones, looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.”  (59th Street Bridge Song).

I subscribe to Netflix again (I will not pay for SABC that I do not use without a TV) and watch a few episodes of Heartland and when I go to sleep, I sleep!

The Lesson

relax

Relax, Take Time out to Feel Groovy!

And I share this as a reminder that we must be aware of ourselves and look after ourselves in these crazy times.  We need to take time out and “make the morning last, looking for fun and just feeling groovy.” I am currently on Rooibos tea, which does not have the same effect as coffee. Sitting on the stoep, my feet on a chair with a slow cup of Rooibos, well, let’s just say I must still acquire that skill.

I am glad to say I started this week much more like my normal self with lots of energy and, strangely enough, so far this week, I have seen a lot less assess! (I read somewhere: If you wake up and the first person you meet is an ass, you can say: “I met and ass today.” But if you wake up and every person you deal with is an ass, well, then you know you are it!)

I would love to hear your experiences and feelings in these times. Please comment below.

And listen to Simon and Garfunkel!

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How do I Read my Policy Wording?

“Do you have any tips that can help me read my policy wording and understanding it better?”  is another question I received. Remember you can send me your short term related questions and I will try to answer them.

A Legal Contract

Contract

Insurance is a Contract with Terms and Conditions for Both Parties

A few things to keep in mind. Your short term insurance policy is a contract between yourself and the insurer. Like all contracts, both parties have commitments and responsibilities.  The insurance contract starts with a proposal form. You propose to the insurer that he should insure you by disclosing all the relevant facts and circumstances. The insurer replies with a quote and if you accept the quote, the policy contract consists of your proposal, the quote, the policy schedule and the policy wording. The proposal, quote and schedule are a record of what is insured and what not. It stipulates any special conditions or exclusions and the sums insured.

The policy wording sets out the terms and conditions.

Sections

The policy wording has Sections.

The first section is always the General Section that applies to all the other sections. In this sections you will find the general terms and conditions. It starts off by stating what the basis of the policy is – proposal, schedule and wording. Requirements regarding premium payment, the term of insurance, duty of care, cancellation or changes and how to claim.

You will also find the rules about claiming under this section.

General Exclusions

Exclusions

Exclusions – What is Never Covered

The next section is General Exclusions. It is standard and generally applicable. General exclusions are there to protect the industry, as the loss can be so big that it could bankrupt the industry.  Remember, insurance is the risk of one spread over the shoulders of many. General exclusions, as it were, protects the one against the risk of many.

Riots and war, nuclear substances, nationalization, liability by agreement and consequential loss are some of the things generally excluded.

Loss because of computer crime or viruses and asbestos contamination are also excluded.  In new policy wording you can expect to see pandemics excluded as well.

After the General Section, each section is a policy on its own, so to speak. What it means, is that each section sets out terms and conditions to cover a specific asset.

So you find Homeowners (Building) and Home Contents, All Risk, Motor and Public Liability, to name the most common sections.

The first paragraph of each section will tell you what is covered, like this:

Content

“In this section, insured property is property that belongs to you or for which you are responsible as shown on the Schedule.
It includes:
household contents;
personal property (including office and home-industry equipment belonging to you in your private capacity);
fixtures and fittings that belong to you as the tenant, not the owner, of the private residence.”

Buildings

“Your property insured is the private residential structures of your home. The Schedule gives its risk address and wall and roof construction. It includes all fixtures and fittings that belong to you as the owner or that you are responsible for as the owner. It does not include any fixtures and fittings that belong to a tenant or for which a tenant is responsible.”

Then will follow a paragraph explaining what risks are covered (see below Perils vs All Risk)

This will be followed by any additional or extended covers you may have or more (optional) covers you can select and pay a premium for.

There will be terms and conditions, explanation of what is not covered and definitions.

When I read policy wordings, I keep reminding myself what section i am reading. Like all legal documents, it is important to follow the numbering and I have a habit of circling the “and” and “or” as far as I go.

Perils Based vs All Risk

Perils Based Policy

Flooding is usually an insured peril

Most Content and Building insurance are Perils Based.  That means that there is a list of perils against which you are insured. This list includes things such as Fire, Wind, Storm and Earthquake. Normally there are about nine perils listed. If something happens and you claim, the questions is:  is it one of the listed perils? If not, you do not have a claim. That is important to know. Too often people have expectations about what is covered and when a claim is repudiated, they are disappointed. Reading this section carefully can save a lot of trouble. If you need specific risks to be covered and it is not part of the defined perils, you may be able to find insurance that does offer that cover.

An All Risk policy covers everything, except risks specifically excluded. In this case, when you claim, the question is:  “Did we exclude this risk?” If the answer is “no,” the claim has to be paid. When you read an All Risk Policy, it is therefore very important to pay attention to the exclusions.

Example:
A rock rolls down the mountain and damages a building.

Scenario 1:  Perils Based Policy

The closest we get to this event, is this:

“impact with the private residence by animals, vehicles, aircraft or aerial devices or other objects falling from them, or falling trees, except when felled by someone”

Since that rolling rock is not in that definition, there is no valid claim.

Scenario 2:  All Risk Policy

Does the policy exclude stones and rocks rolling down the mountain? If not, it is a valid claim.

It goes without saying that the All  Risk Section of the policy is an All Risk Policy! The Motor Section is also All Risk Based.

My experience is that insurers who offer All Risk Policies for Content and Buildings have stricter underwriting criteria and higher barriers to entry. It may be my imagination, but it also seems as if I have to submit more paperwork for claims.

Although an All Risk Policy may cover more events than a Perils Based Policy, the end results in terms of what is covered are not all that much different.

Policy wordings were simplified over the years and it is easier to read than a decade or two ago. Just remember that policy wording differs (sometimes substantially) from insurer to insurer.  Get hold of your policy wording and read it. Once you have read your policy wording, you will find it is not so difficult to understand.

If you have a question, just shout. And please leave a comment (or question) in the comment section below.

 

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Lockdown Day 196 – 8 October 2020 – The Seasons Of Our Lives

The Byrds made a song of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!”

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

Two things made me think of this song.

The first is a post by Michael Olowu, a young Nigerian I follow on Facebook. On the one hand I follow him because I find his posts very valuable, and I follow him to see him succeed and reach his dreams, which he no doubt will. I would love to celebrate with him.

He made a post saying that time is all we have and we better spend it wisely.

I commented as follows, because I am all too aware of the value of time:

“Time = Life. Spend it wisely. Time is limited, we do not have infinite seconds. Time, unlike other resources, can never be replaced.”

Michael replied with this wisdom: “Time is like a coin, you can spend it how ever you want, but you can only spend it once.” 

That started me thinking of the Byrds’ song Turn, Turn. There is a time for everything and a purpose to every time under heaven. Isn’t that just wonderful? There is even a purpose to Covid-19, but that is something else.

Then I read this quote by a Linkedin Contact, Dr Ana Garcia:

Dr Ana

Life is in the Gap

“It is not the words, but the silence;
Not the walls, but the space inside;
It is not the effort or the stress, but the recovery;
Life is in the <GAP>.”

Those who know me will know that this will get the gears in my head churning every time.

 

To get an idea on this (and it is my interpretation, we will have to read her book to get her thoughts), lie on your bed and look at the room. The walls and ceiling and the floor. That creates a space, a GAP, and we live within that GAP.  Perhaps what I wrote about values and the value (or lack thereof) of words, brings a perspective on  silence? Because my Dad lived in the GAP, I have never doubted his love for me?

My first reaction was, Dr Ana is right, we live in the GAP “a time to be born, a time to die.” I have written about this before – birth and death are part of life. You cannot have the one without the other. I think the challenge is to use this <GAP> called LIFE, the most precious gift of all, in such a way that death should not be a threat. To live up to Stephan Covey’s “To live, to love, to leave a legacy.”


Get Dr Ana’s latest book at Amazon (affiliate link).

Sometimes I wonder if the fear of death is not the biggest, underlying, most denied and suppressed fear of all, inhibiting our enjoyment of life, preventing us from becoming all we can be.  There is no doubt that fear is our biggest enemy. “What will people say if I am honest in my Covid-19 journal?” Just imagine I succumbed to that fear and never started writing it! Perhaps nobody would miss it, but I would be poorer. And perhaps we fear because we see the walls and not the GAP! Is it possible? Perhaps we fear because we hear the words, but not the silence!

What I am suggesting, is that all fear (that undefined force) like “what will people say and think” may be founded in a basic fear of death. I am not sure about this and it may be nonsense. I am probably stretching things. (But I would still like to know what you think – leave a comment below.)  This is where Michael Olowu’s posts become valuable – he motivates me to overcome the fear created by my comfort zones!

The point is, overcoming this fear of what others may think (IF they think at all), is a fight in my own mind. Overcoming it made my life more worthwhile. I (try to) live in the GAP. I enjoy the freedom of the GAP. I appreciate the opportunity of the GAP.

I am battling to express my thoughts and my example may be a bad one, but in essence I am trying to say:  Life is always in the GAP and we must live it with gusto so we can die without regrets.  A friend once said to me: “If I knew when I am going to die, I will spend my money in such a way that my death and a zero bank balance happens at the same time.” That is what I am trying to say – I would love to have spend all my life when I die! Not some stuff hanging on the wall, so to speak.

We can get so busy with life, that we forget to live! We can be so involved with the words and the walls and the stress and the activity, that we reach the end and realise: “I never lived!” How sad that would be! If I could dance, I would grab a woman in a red dress and black high heals and do a Tango now! (Thinking of Al Pacino and Scent of a Woman).

We live in the GAP. And I wonder if I can then say “we exist in the words, the busy-ness, the stress and when we keep ourselves busy with the walls, but we LIVE in the silence and the space between the walls?” We exist when we succumb to our fears, we live when we break free from our fears?

The wise author of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 said that there are seasons in our lives. Sometimes we should build walls, sometimes we should break them down. Sometimes we must sow, sometimes we must harvest. We cannot break down a wall unless we have built it first. We cannot harvest without sowing. We must live in the season of our lives (the GAP?). But we must LIVE. We must gratefully embrace the season, because each season will lead to another. We should not fight the seasons. Fighting seasons will not change anything, we will just not be ready for the next season! Perhaps there is a progression in the seasons. Perhaps one season prepares us for the next. Then one season is not better or worse than the other. Perhaps just easier or more difficult. And remember, each season has a purpose!

Seasons of our lives

Faded Pictures on the Wall. Today they are wonderful Moms.

When I try to understand the seasons, I think of my children. There is a season of expecting and looking ahead. There is a season of a newborn, of a todler, right through to becoming a grandparent and experiencing these seasons on a higher plane. You cannot wish these seasons over, you cannot bring them back. Each season flies by like the wink of an eye. You better enjoy them while they last, because quicker than you think, they will be faded photographs against the wall!

We must be aware and live in the Present, it is all we have. Perhaps that is what the GAP is – the Present.  You can only make memories in the present! And the present is like a coin. You can spend it any way you like, but you can only spend it once.

When it is time to cry, cry. When it is time to be joyous, be joyous. Now is a time to refrain from embracing. When the time comes again to embrace – do it! Live. Every day. As much as you can. While you can. Fill the GAPS with LIFE. Do the Tango!

Time is precious. Appreciate it.

LIVE. LOVE. LEAVE A LEGACY!

Seasons

 

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When Do I Claim Too Often?

I invited you to send me your questions (please keep on sending them) and received this question:

 When will the insurer say I claim too often? 

A Relevant Question

This may seem like a strange question, but it is a very relevant question. One of the worst things that can happen is that an insurer adds special conditions on your policy – for instance a special, extra excess. Or even worse, cancel your policy. It is something that we try to avoid at all costs.

When completing your proposal for insurance, there are these two questions:

  1. Have you had any claims or losses (even if you have not claimed for it) in the last three years.  That is a three year history.
  2. Have any insurer ever cancelled a policy or agreed to continue a policy on special terms? This is a lifetime of history that you carry with you!

The second question is very important, you do not want to get into the situation where you have to explain question #2. It is a question that forces you to disclose a very long history. A few years ago I went through a bad claims patch – claiming a cellphone when my wife slipped and fell in the water, a few days later I was surprised by a “mini-tsunami” that almost dropped a tree on me and my camera was submerged in the sea. And then, too add insult to injury, my house was burglared. Fortunately no special conditions were raised, but that could have happened. That is what we must try to prevent at all costs.

And that is why it is very relevant to ask when do I claim too often. I will try to explain with some examples below. First let’s look at a few principles:

Take Care

Remember this clause in the policy wording:

Duty of care
You must take all reasonable precautions and all reasonable care to prevent or minimise loss, damage, death, injury or liability.

I think the question goes something like this:  “I pay my insurance premiums every month to cover myself against mishaps. Why will I be penalized if I claim too often?”

Is there an answer to the question, something like if you claim x number of times, it is too much?  No, it is impossible to answer like this.

The Insurer is in Business

Let us try to look from the insurer’s point of view. Remember insurance is the risk of one spread over the shoulders of many. That implies that we all carry and contribute to the loss of the one. Insurers are in business and they need to make a profit. In general, I think as long as your loss ratio is below 60%, you are still fine.

Loss ratio is the value of claims to premiums paid. Obviously one big claim, like my burglary is very bad for your loss ratio, but at the same time, if I had a good record, the insurance is not going to cancel my policy or add special conditions for one incident.

Perhaps you want to say that a fire can escalate your loss ration way beyond 60%. That is true, but normally people don’t have fires annually ( we are not talking braai fires here!)

Examples – What do YOU Think?

I will try to use a few examples and then you decide what you would do if you were the insurer:

  1.  The client has small parking lot accidents every few months – typically these own-
    Fender Bender

    Parking Lot Fender Benders

    damage-claims are about R15 000 each. It is the so-called fender benders. The poles that jump at you (and those low, invisible poles and plant holders in parking lots are so annoying).  After the 3rd claim in a 12 month period, what would you do if you were the insurer? What you just keep on paying?

  2. Water pipes in a house is another one of these niggling claims. If a client has water damage because of bursting pipe claims regularly, at what point will you say enough is enough? In the first example of the parking lot accidents, we can say there is negligence, but not with waterpipes. Waterpipes do not burst due to client negligence, to the best of my knowledge. Perhaps the builder used sub-standard pipes, but then the question is should the insurer (and every other insured) pay for the shortcuts a builder took? Perhaps the pipes come from a bad batch? This is a difficult one for me. I want to be on the client’s side, but I also understand that the insurer cannot pick up the tab for bad quality. I would love to know what you what do in a case like this.
  3. The cherry on top, is All Risk Items. How many cell phones would you replace before
    Insurance Claims

    Broken Cell Phones

    you draw a line? How about three in a 12-month period? Four? If it becomes a regular occurrence, the insurer will either add a hefty additional excess to the policy or cancel the insurance on cellphones.

    The All Risk Section is the one section of a policy where we often get people claiming too regularly. Although I think my two claims with the cellphone and the camera were not negligent (my wife slipped while trying to take a photo and if somebody did not shout to warn me, I might indeed have been trapped under a big tree floating in the sea) it still looks suspicious! Too many people use the All Risk Section of a policy to upgrade items like cellphones, cameras or to get new glasses!

If It was Your Child?

Perhaps we can look at the question like this. If you are a parent, how many times will you be OK with your child losing his shoes or clothes before you start taking action? Once is an accident. The second time there might be some extenuating circumstances. By the third time I will surely take preventative action.

When my eldest daughter was in Pre-Primary, she very regularly left her physical training clothes at home. Then the school phoned and I would take it for her. Until I explained to her that we all forget, but I do not have somebody who will bring my stuff for my. I have to spend time and money to rectify my mistake. Therefore, if she forgets again, she will have to pay me from her pocket money. It happened once more, I deducted a small amount from her pocket money, and that was the end.

Perhaps that is how the insurer will look at the problem?

And the Truth?

The truth is, after all this, I cannot tell you when you claim too much or too often. If you are a client, I will warn you when I think you could run into problems. The best option is be careful and put yourself in the insurer’s position.

“Insurer your goods; live as if you have no insurance” is a sure way to keep premiums low and have a good insurance experience.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

 

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Lockdown Day 190 – 2 October 2020 – Values

Words don’t come easy

Words, don’t come easy to me
How can I find a way to make you see I Love You
Words don’t come easy

Words, don’t come easy to me
This is the only way for me to say I Love You
Words don’t come easy

Well I’m just a music man
Melody’s so far my best friend
But my words are coming out wrong and I
I reveal my heart to you and
Hope that you believe it’s true cause

Words, don’t come easy to me
How can I find a way to make you see I love You
Words don’t come easy

This is just a simple song
That I’ve made for you on my own
There’s no hidden meaning you know when I
When I say I love you honey
Please believe I really do cause

Words, don’t come easy to me
How can I find a way to make you see I Love You
Words don’t come easy

It isn’t easy
Words don’t come easy

F.R Davids

 

There is mostly music in the background as I drive or work and, although I don’t always listen with intent, it finds its way into my head. I remember this song from my youth. Perhaps it sticks with me because I also battle to express my emotions verbally.

As it is, I do not put a lot of faith in words. It is way too easy to just talk and say a lot of good sounding things without meaning any of it. Somehow, I like what that guy said about “preach, even use words, if necessary.”

I think it is a matter of how I grew up. My dad was not a man of many words, but I remember the evening on the small holding when he took out his Everite graph-paper diary and explained the concept of pi to me. Way better than the learned maths teacher could. And my dad not a formally learned man!

Saying what is expected

The thing with words is, that we know what is “expected” and what sounds good. And then we just say the words. And that is where my problem kicks in!

I also remember a primary school teacher who always spoke so nicely to us and gave the best motivational, life-lesson-sermons.  Then, one afternoon in standard six I was on the tennis courts (just acting as if I am playing tennis, because facts won’t bear out my words if I say I played tennis – see?) I heard this same teacher shouting at his son. In one unguarded moment all the life-lessons flew out of the universe – words and action did not gel!

Action

Jesus said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” (Mat 6:21). If I am honest, I have to admit I lean more towards James than Paul in the Bible (although I think they just emphasize a bit differently). James said: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith with deeds.” (James 2:18). To be fair to Paul, he said: “The Kingdom of God is not a matter talk, but of power.” 1 Cor 4:20.

When I distrust words, I am in good company.

Values

And that brings me to values.

Somewhere in my MBA studies we did a case study and it alluded to values. It is 30+ years later, and it still haunts me.  We are not talking about what I would call “moral values” such as honesty, we are talking about values that drives us. Values that make is who we are.

Robberg

Looking backwards on Robberg

As an example, I can say being out in nature is a value. I will spend money on it. I go to great lengths to get in nature and spend time there. Serving and helping people is a huge value since a young age. It stands in good stead in my business (mostly), since I will do whatever it takes to help somebody and solve their insurance problems (and too often I do it for free!).

My grandchildren are a value – I will drop everything I am doing to play with the grandchildren and when I do, time stands still.

Values = Treasure?

That is the thing of values. It is not what you say, it is what you do. And your heart will always be where your value is! That is why we can say “I do, I do, I do” (Like Abba), but unless we DO I do, I do, the words have no meaning.

Distilling values or what matters is something that keeps my mind busy. How do I know what really matters to me? I do not have a clear answer, but I think if you study your actions, you will get an idea. What do you spend your time on? How and where do you spend your free time? On what do you spend money? What is that thing that you always spend money on, even when you say, “I am broke.”

It reminds me of the joke of the guy who sent his girlfriend a note (before telephones and motor cars): “I will walk through fire for you. I will fight a lion to see you. I will swim a river in flood to get to you. I love you. John.  Ps, I will visit on Saturday if it is not raining.” The PS is the only truth in that whole letter!

Actions speak louder than words. Where there is a lack of congruency between words and actions, I will always believe the actions.  Actions show the values.

Values and Sub-Conscious

Are values “visible” on a sub-conscious level? I don’t know, but I have a suspicion that it is.  Perhaps that is why we are drawn to some people. Is it just me who find that in groups I gravitate towards some people, and mostly relate to them and feel at home with them? Could it be that it is the sub-conscious responding to the shared values?  I would like to believe there is some truth in this.

Let me conclude this journey about values with another story about my dad, the man of few words, but much wisdom.

After my dad’s death I went to pack up his garage where he made the most beautiful wooden furniture. Also, the garage where I messed around and learned to do a lot of handyman things that I still use today. Packing up, I discovered a lot of my experiments, mostly failed experiments. Then it dawned on me that it cost my dad a lot of money (and probably trouble) to allow me to experiment and acquire some skills, and he never complained. He would advise and encourage, but he never complained about welding rods that I used, as an example.

And that was the day that I said: “Thanks Dad, that I always knew you loved me. Although you never said it, you never had to.”

That is values. Where your treasure is … I will show my faith through my deeds.

What is your take on values? What do you think about values and words? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?  Please leave your comments below.

 

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Lockdown Day 188 – 30 September 2020 – Meditation in Motion

Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.
Anatoli Boukreev

You need special shoes for hiking—and a bit of a special soul as well.
Terri Guillemets

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
John Muir

Quotes

Lockdown is getting long. Unfortunately, it is not Lockdown that is getting too long, it is the isolation that is getting long. Lockdown Level 1 allows us much freedom. Even so I can still get infected and I would still prefer not to be infected.

Fortunately, I can hike again. Not in a group, since I am not fit enough yet and do not want to keep fellow hikers back.

Hiking has so many benefits, it is impossible to list them all.

Motivation

Hiking, to me, is an exceptionally good motivation to visit the gym and work hard. There is nothing better than getting off the mountain and still have energy left to do a good “victory dance.” There is nothing better than walking up a long hill and reach the top with “fuel left.” Fitness on the mountain is a bonus. And fitness  all over is good for health.

Feeling Good

Fitness is not only physically good; it also has psychological benefits. The saying goes a healthy body accommodates a healthy spirit. Sweating in the gym has a huge benefit – somehow, I always feel less stressed after exercising my t-shirt like I wore it in the shower. It is as if the stress just flows away with the sweat. Sweating in the mountain is just so much better. It is indeed a stress eraser and gets all the endorphins flowing.

What Cannot be Verbalized

Robberg

Looking backwards on Robberg

There is something to being out in nature that I cannot put into words. Perhaps it is not meant to be verbalized. It is a connection, almost like a connection that gets reset. It is like rebooting a Windows computer. It is like switching off the modem and switching it on. Perhaps Windows is not the best example, because it is not always better after a reboot! But that shows the expectation of a day on the mountain. You get back and the kinks are out.

Bodysurfing at Victoria Bay has this in the extreme. After a day in the waves, my sinuses are clean. Not only my sinuses are washed clean, but also all the nonsense in my head is washed away. That is a day in nature.

You are reset.

Peace

There is something to sit in silence with the breeze blowing through your shirt, looking down on the world from above. It breeds a calmness. It takes you away from the everyday problems of existence in the modern world. Away from email, computers, mobile phones, and WhatsApp’s. It also puts you in perspective in terms of where you fit in the universe! Nobody can look out over the Cape Peninsula from Table Mountain and feel arrogant. No Mr Big in the Mountain (unless you waste a good experience!) Nobody can sit in the shade of a rock in the Cederberg and feel overly important!

Overcoming Yourself

Hiking always has a sense of achievement. The joy of survival. I experienced that exuberance again as if new with my last two hikes. Just under seven months after my knee replacement I hiked up Devil’s Peak. My first hike in 24 months. At the start there is the uncertainty – will I be able to make it? Will my knee keep up? Am I fit enough?

When we hiked at Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay recently, I at least knew I could do Devil’s Peak. So, I started more confidently.

At the same time, even when we are out hiking almost in civilization, you are fairly much on your own. What will I do if I cannot go further? Either a helicopter must come and lift me out, or Mountain Rescue will have to carry me out on a stretcher. Neither one an option I would like to experience. Some areas where we hike is not so civilized – there help cannot be summoned by phone. That increases the sense of adventure.

The Beauty of “Nothingness”

Everything above is just magnified when you sit down, back to a rock or a tree, take out your lunch and eat it with an “empty mind.” The joy of being and living. I normally express this feeling like this: “Sixty million people in South Africa, 7 billion people on earth, and just I (or we few) are here today and now! What an experience. Or standing at the top of the mountain, looking out over the vast expanse of mountain after mountain, the favourite saying: “Just imagine the people walking on high heels in the mall!”

There are many reasons to hike – each and everyone a good reason.

My heart is filled with gratitude that I can it.

Do you hike? Share your thoughts and experiences about hiking in the comments. What is your favorite place to hike?

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Lockdown Day 168 – 11 Sept 2020 – Earn it!

I think I mentioned it before. The movie Saving Private Ryan. If you want to understand the horror of war, watch Saving Private Ryan. It is beyond my mind to understand the horror of the beach landings. What a waste of lives. I cannot begin to imagine what it must have felt like to be there.

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”

WAR!

While I am on the topic of war. It always amazes me when people romanticize the South African Border War. The few people that I know who actually was in the WAR, never talks about it. Why would you recall the horror of  war? Yes, I love guns and armored vehicles and the mechanics and technology thereof. Yes, I like shooting. But somewhere I lost the need to hunt. No, I am not criticizing those who do, because I just recently bought some Kudu Biltong. That Kudu definitely did not die of old age. I love to shoot, I have no urge to kill.

I am digressing, a sure sign of old age.

IN THE CEMETARY

Back to Saving Private Ryan. The movie opens with a family walking into a cemetery, one of those war cemeteries in Europe that should be enough to put any sane person off war forever. The man falls down at a grave and the movie morphs to the past. Then in the last scene, as Captain Miller dies, he says to Private Ryan “Earn this.”

We morph back to the cemetery, to an aged Private Ryan who says to his wife “Please tell me I have been a good man.” (My memory may also be a bit hazy, but that is how I remember it.)

Earn it.

Every morning I lie in bed with my first cup of coffee and catch up on the news via my cell phone. This morning I read about Discovery Health’s view of what happened in the last 168 days. I trust their insights, since they have the data. The thing that caught me was this:

“Data insights from financial services group Discovery, shows that up to 16,000 South African lives will have been saved from Covid‑19 related deaths by 2021, as a result of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.” EARN THIS, EARN IT!

We will never know who those 16 000 people are. It could be myself, my wife, my children or grandchildren. It could be you who read here. Somehow, each and every one of us could be among those 16 000. We will never know.

Expensive Lives!

But whoever the 16 000 are, they are extremely expensive lives!  The article goes on to state how preventative screenings dropped, how people with chronic disease did not follow up with treatment, perhaps because they are scared of contracting COVID-19 at the doctor.  Some people survived the Corona, but might now die of cancer! Earn it!

When I read the article my first thought was: “It is a hell of a price to pay for 16 000 people.” Apparently 3 000 000 (that is THREE MILLION) people lost there jobs. That could be 3 million families suffering and losing everything they ever had. Since one person supports an extended family, the number of people who suffer because of these retrenchments could go much, much higher. If each person supports 4 people, it means 12 million people are affected by these retrenchments. EARN IT!

When I think in my own circle, friends and clients and how many of them suffer because of lockdown. If I think of them, the cost of 16 000 lives become personal. EARN IT!

And, did it work?

It is day 168. I remember writing a number of times that this pandemic will change the world. Looking back. I do not think the world has changed yet, at least not for the better.

The context is completely different, but I like the sentiment of Churchill’s speech:

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” – EARN IT!

Gratitude

Gratitude

For me and my family and friends to live, a few million people are suffering. The opposite of Churchill’s speech!

But what if each one of us would live like Private Ryan with gratitude for what we received at the expense of others. LIFE. What if we lived with gratitude and the purpose of EARN IT! What if we paid it forward?

 

At the end of my life?

At the end of my life, will I be able to look back at those soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy to free me from a Fascist Dictator who would ruin the world and, like Private Ryan say: “Please tell me I have been a good man?” Not only for the soldiers who died decades before I was born, but also for the people who suffer in 2020 due to a pandemic, that 16 000 lives could be saved!  And more importantly, will people honestly confirm that I have been OK?

Long ago I read a quote that I cannot remember exactly anymore, but it went something like this:

“I traded all my tomorrows so you can have a future.”

EARN IT! Make the world a better place.

 

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Why do Insurance Premiums Differ?

The question is: “Why can another insurer just reduce my premium by R1 300 from what I am currently paying?”  In the full context it is a drop from about R5 000 tot R3 700. It is about a 25% drop. That is a lot.

Revisiting Insurance:

To understand the importance of the question, let’s quickly step back and look at what happens in insurance. Remember, insurance is a system of spreading the risk of one over the shoulders of many. Nobody should carry a heavier load than other people. Nobody should benefit at somebody else’s expense.

Underwriting the Risk:

Insurance Premiums

Fire = low probability * high cost

What the insurance company considers the risk of the item that they insurer. Insurers have all the data to know that a thatched roof house has a higher risk than a corrugated iron roof. Insurers can tell you exactly what the probability is of a White Volkswagen Golf in a specific neighborhood to be stolen on a Tuesday night. That is why some vehicles carry a higher premium and some color vehicles get charged more.

Insurers can also confirm that women drivers are a safer bet than men. That people with a license less than 2 years are more prone to accidents.

The risk matrix plots the likelihood of an event happening against the likelihood of it happening. Houses burning down is not a regular event, but when it does happen, the cost is high. Burglaries happen much more frequently than fires, but the cost is much lower than with a fire. And this risk to cost ratio is how premium rates are calculated.

Example:

I am currently paying R322 per month for my house (Building) insurance. If another company offers me a premium of R241, my immediate question would be:  “How can they offer me a 25% discount just like that?

It could be that my current insurer is really nailing me and I am carrying a heavy load for other people who claim too much. It could be, but it is not necessarily true.

It could also be that my current insurer covers things that the new insurer does not cover? As I have said regarding Pool Pumps, some insurance companies offer the cover as standard and others you have to ask and pay for it – you will have to study and compare policy wordings to be sure about that.

Insurance PremiumsIt could also be that my current insurer is more likely to pay a claim than the new company? It is the difference between finding reasons to pay as opposed to finding reasons not to pay. An example would be an insurer who refuses to pay a motor accident claim because the client parked the vehicle on the wrong side of the vibracrete fence! (The risk address on the policy was 2 Tree Street  and because the client did not have a gate yet, he parked his vehicle at  4 Tree Street (the neighbor) behind a gate. Because of that an accident that happened in another province was not paid.

Or what do you make of this repudiated claim?  The vehicle was parked in the yard and somebody collided with the car. The claim was repudiated because the vehicle’s tires were under the legal tread limit! To the best of my knowledge the Ombud decided that worn tires did not contribute to the claim and the insurer had to pay the claim. (If the same claim came from an accident in a parking lot, it would be different.)

It could be that the excesses are different.

Would you change insurers to save a R100 per month on a car if your excess changes from a flat R2 500 to R8 000?

Conclusion:

Having said all this, let me conclude with three things I have learnt:

  1. Normally the companies that I deal with and who compare well on policy wording and claims payment, have more or less the same premiums. It is in the ball park.
  2. Often, when a client was with a company for a long time with a good claims history, it is impossible to beat the premium, unless you take him/her to a company that I do not want to deal with – those that just reduce premiums to get a client.
  3. Sometimes, even with the companies I refer to in #1, I am surprised by what margin premiums differ and then, for some reason, you do get surprisingly good premiums.

To Summarize:

Before just accepting an insurance quote:

  • Compare policy wording to ensure you do not forfeit cover;
  • Compare excesses to ensure that claims are not limited because of high excesses;
  • Look for caps on covers – for instance, is there a cap to resultant damage because of a burst geyser?
  • Is it a company who try to pay claims? All valid claims will be paid; no invalid claim should ever be paid – that is a fact. At the same time, when I look at the claims that cross my desk, I can find reason not to pay many of them – like not paying for an accident in KZN, because the vehicle was parked at number 2 instead of nr 4!

The Last Story

My late father was a building contractor. An architect told him:  when the tenders come in, you throw away the lowest one. He will go bankrupt on you. Then you throw away the highest one. He wants to get rich quick at your expense. Then you will find the rest is more or less the same.

Sage advice.

What is your experience? Share it with us and please leave your short term insurance related questions in the comments or send me a mail.

 

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