We Don't Need No Stinkin' Insurance... Only YOU Do

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by Eric Peters EricPetersAutos.com

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A few weeks ago, a deer hit my truck. Might as well have been a government worker in a city-owned vehicle.


Neither have to pay to repair the damage they caused.

No doubt you have heard about the doctrine of “sovereign immunity.” It means you can’t sue the government or hold it (or its agents) criminally or civilly responsible for anything, no matter what. Unless the government deigns to allow itself to be held responsible.

Well, there’s a lesser doctrine that operates on the same principle.

In my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, a woman named Susan Burr was driving her van when it was struck by a city-owned vehicle. This resulted in $2,000 in damages to her vehicle. Instead of a check from the city, she got a letter that read, “In order for a municipality to be liable” for damages, they “… must have been negligent.”

Mere accidents don’t count.

And of course, the city and its shysters get to decide for themselves what constitutes “negligence.”

In this case, the accident was allegedly caused by a sticky gas pedal. So the city is absolved – and Burr is left with the bill. (See here for the full story.)

Isn’t that special?

Just like other exemptions and privileges bestowed by the Government Class on itself (including but far from limited to such outrages as ex-cops and even county attorneys being allowed to carry firearms into places where alcohol is served – and drink – while Mere Ordinaries, even if they have concealed handgun permits, are not allowed to carry firearms into such places at all – even if alcohol never crosses their lips) this business stinks to high heaven and reveals in all its yellow-toothed, sore-gummed ugliness not merely the hypocrisy but (much worse) the almost-Bourbon arrogance of the creeps who wield political power in this country.

Remember: These are the same solons who pass laws – for you and me – that require us to have insurance on every registered vehicle we own and who would pursue us with Javert-like ferocity to recoup monies for damages we caused to city-owned property.

As Seinfeld used to say, “Who are these people”?

Of course, we should not be surprised. The government has for years been a one-way operation. We pay, they collect. They demand, we submit.

Example: The IRS takes more money out of your hide than they are (ahem) legally entitled to. It takes you a year or more to correct the “error.” The IRS eventually, grudgingly, sends a check. But no interest – or penalties. We all know perfectly well what occurs when the roles are reversed.

Or, how about this one:

In Minneapolis, the owners of 25 homes flooded with raw sewage as a result of a water-main break of city-owned pipes have been notified that the costs of cleaning-up the city-caused filth (as high as $25,000 per home in some cases) won’t be covered by the city’s insurance because – ta-dum – it was just an “accident” and not the result of “negligence.”

And the cherry on top? Many of these people will end up paying out of pocket because their own insurance policy won’t pay, either. Because they didn’t have a “sewer back-up insurance rider.” (See here.)

The same Catch 22 might happen to you, too, in the unlucky event you get creamed by an “accidentally” out of control – but not “reckless” – government-owned vehicle. They won’t pay – and your insurer might not, either – because as far as they’re concerned the damages were caused by another party and thus, they’re not liable.

It’s true most policies will probably cover it eventually under the “uninsured motorist” clause, or maybe you live in a “no fault” state.

That sounds like an out – or at least, a safety net – but it isn’t. For one, if you do have full coverage, it’s a solid bet that even though they’ll pay to fix your vehicle, they’re gonna jack up your rates to compensate. And you’ll at minimum get stuck with whatever the deductible is. Remember: You did nothing; someone else did. But you’re the one paying.

And if you are someone who drives an older vehicle and so chose not to buy a full-coverage policy to save yourself some money, you are SOL. Such a policy pays for damages you cause to other people’s stuff – but damages caused by others to your vehicle are your problem if they can’t or won’t pay. You either pay for the repairs yourself, out of pocket – or you junk your vehicle.

The city walks away, laughing.

So, be careful out there. Getting hit by a city-owned vehicle is as much a threat to us mere Ordinaries as bounding deer.

Only the deer are innocent animals that serve a useful purpose in the natural order of things.

Something government workers don’t.

Reprinted with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.

Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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