Tuesday archive: Recovery positions

From 25th February, 2006:

My collection of Dire Straits compact discs languishes, unplayed, in the “ghetto” section of my music library. My decision to buy the albums dates back 15 years to a time when my brain was half-grown. The actual discs, though, are newer. They were bought for me by an insurance company after my flat was burgled and Money for Nothing, and much else, was stolen. I could have done with something aligned with my current tastes, but the insurance policy ruled otherwise. How should we rebuild after disaster strikes? Should we try to put things back as they were before, try to improve them or cut our losses? The question is much in the US consciousness six months after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans and destroyed other communities along the Gulf coast.
Part of the problem is that the victims are kept out of the important decisions. My insurance company could have saved administrative expenses by writing a cheque and letting me modernise my music collection without interference. But such an approach might have left me hoping for occasional break-ins. Since a careless householder exposes his insurers to unnecessary risks, their meddling is perhaps a necessary evil.

Continued at timharford.com.

Tim Harford’s blog

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Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.