If you were faced with an emergency, it’s likely you would expect the state to step in as the last “safety net”. It’s why there is a welfare state, and why you can call the police or an ambulance – whoever you are.
While there might be a minimum level of support available, sometimes it does really pay to make your own arrangements, and to ensure you have your own protection in place.
A recent story from the USA illustrates the problem of relying on good will and not planning ahead of the worst-case scenario. Read on to discover what an unfortunate series of events in Tennessee has to do with ensuring you protect yourself.
The story of the Cranick’s house fire, and the emergency response
In late September 2022, Paulette and Gene Cranick's grandson started a fire in a barrel outside the couple's home in Obion County, Tennessee.
Having added some rubbish to the fire to burn, he then went inside to take a shower. A few minutes later, he noticed an adjacent shed was engulfed in flames. As the blaze spread, it didn't take long for the fire to spread to the Cranick’s house.
With the fire raging, the local South Fulton City Fire Department arrived. You might have expected the fire department to immediately tackle the blaze, but because the Cranicks hadn't paid a $75 fire service subscription fee, they refused to hose a drop of water on the flames.
As the Cranicks lived outside the city limits, they were subject to this fire “opt in” charge. Quite simply, as they hadn’t paid the fee, the fire department were not obliged to deal with the incident.
As the fire continued to engulf the house, the neighbours complained and pleaded with the emergency services to act. The local news reports that some of them even offered to pay the firefighters thousands of dollars.
However, the Cranicks ultimately lost everything, including three dogs and a cat.
The incident has divided opinion across the local area and beyond.
One resident told a local reporter that, in her opinion: “I think morally the right thing would have been to put the fire out.” Another neighbour said the Cranicks brought the devastation on themselves by not paying the $75 fee.
The argument about whether firefighting is the sort of government service that should be socialised is one for another day.
Perhaps Paulette Cranick's opinion matters most. “You can't blame [the firefighters] if they have to do what the boss says to do,” she told The Associated Press. “I've had firemen call and apologise.”
Relying on others might leave you short
In the UK, the fire service is provided as part of the general taxation we all pay. So what, you might wonder, does this story have to do with protection?
If a fire breaks out at your home or workplace, you expect the state to step in and provide assistance.
But, can the same be said if bad things happen to you personally?
Let’s take the example of you being involved in an accident which results in you having to take an extended period off work. If, like the Cranicks, you hadn’t paid a fee for your own protection, you’d be reliant on the basic safety net your employer, or the state, provides.
That might be Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which, in 2022/23, is just £99.35 a week and paid for a maximum of 28 weeks.
While this income might be welcome, it’s unlikely it will be enough to maintain your standard of living during your recovery. And, if you’re off for more than 28 weeks, you could see your income disappear entirely.
Take also the example of the very worst happening, and you passing away prematurely.
Without taking out your own protection, your loved ones will have to make ends meet without your income. Would they be able to afford to continue living in the family home? Could they afford to pay their bills? Would your children have the same opportunities?
Why paying for your own protection can be money well spent
If the Cranicks had spent $75 on their fire insurance, the South Fulton City Fire Department would have tackled their house fire the moment they arrived on the scene.
Whether this would have saved their home or their pets is difficult to say. However, it’s highly likely that the insurance would have resulted in a much better outcome for the individuals involved.
Think about any other insurance you’ve ever claimed on. You may have had a policy pay out after an accident at home, a trip to the vets, a broken mobile phone, or a car crash. In each case, the money you invested in insurance is likely to have resulted in a much better outcome than if you had done nothing.
If you’re worried about the worst happening, and you want the peace of mind that you and your loved ones will receive financial support in dire circumstances, investing in protection can really help.
Just a few pounds a month can give you real peace of mind
Despite the fact that putting the right protection in place can really provide you with peace of mind, most people don’t have any cover.
Research published by Money Marketing reveals that the majority (63%) of Brits do not hold a life insurance policy, many because they think it is too expensive.
The consequence of this is that millions of people will therefore be left without financial support if they were to lose a loved one. What would you do if your spouse or partner passed away unexpectedly?
- Do you rely on their income to contribute towards household expenses? If so, how would you continue to pay your bills?
- Do they look after your children or grandchildren? If so, who would do this if they passed away? Would your expenses increase if you had to pay for childcare?
- Could you afford to stay in your home without your late spouse/partner’s income? Would you be able to continue to pay your mortgage or rent?
- Could you afford to pay for the funeral you want for them?
If you’re concerned about any of the above, life insurance can provide you with valuable peace of mind. For just a few pounds each month – in some cases, around the same annual cost as the Cranick’s fire insurance – you can make sure that your loved ones would receive financial support if you passed away.
You can arrange for this support to be paid as a lump sum or, if you have younger children, arranging protection so it pays out a monthly income could be more appropriate.
Your beneficiaries can use this payout to:
- Repay some or all of their mortgage
- Pay vital household bills
- Replace lost income
- Pay for your funeral
- Ensure your children can maintain their standard of living.
As life insurance experts, we can help you to find the cover you want at the right price. If you’re not sure how much cover you need, our life insurance calculator can help you to establish the level of protection that would be appropriate for you.
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