The horse industry has taken a hard hit over the last several years from many sides, and it hasn't been helped by the risk-mitigation factor imposed by insurance companies. Don't get me wrong, I am living proof that horses are a dangerous hobby, but it is a hobby of my choice. Our over-litigious society and out-of-control healthcare costs (quite possibly exacerbated by said over-litigiousness) have added regulations and guidelines that are making it harder and harder for normal people (e.g. not just the wealthiest) to own and enjoy horses. (This is a common theme for me, as some of you know. See my posts Coming to the End of the Trail and Accepting Risk.)
This hadn't really hit me personally until recently, and the more I think about it, the angrier I get about the whole thing.
Actually, it hit me professionally as well as personally. My company is investigating new options for our benefits provider--not only to improve our costs (if possible) but improve the package we can offer to our employees. We are small now, but intending to grow, so attracting talent is a key factor.
Our office manager contacted a couple of reputable firms to give us some idea of what is out there. One of them was a well-known company with a good reputation for working with start-up and growing companies, plus a great package to offer current and future employees. Unless those employees are like me, that is.
I crutched into the conference room and didn't think twice when the rep asked me what happened. I guess I could have lied and said I tripped on a curb--and maybe I will next time--but I was honest and laughed about my last year of injuries.
I get it. I am a risk to insure. But seriously? I'll bet against all their statistical analysis that I'm way healthier than most average office workers out there. And isn't that's why you insure a pool of people to mitigate your costs and risk? Not to mention that if you factor my burden on the healthcare system out over the last 44 years, I'm not really all that expensive. Downright cheap if you compare me to some.
However, despite my obvious overall good health, our office manager got a call from the rep a few days after the meeting letting us know we were "not a fit" for them, citing high insurance claims generally and me specifically as the primary reason. I'm not sure how they would know what our insurance claims would be since that's private patient information, so the only logical explanation is they weren't willing to take us on because of me and my risky hobby.
Oh and did I mention we've never had any Worker's Compensation claims, either? Nope, apparently it's just me and my personal off-work-time hobby to blame.
I'm actually not really taking it personally. It's a business decision for that company. It's not as profitable for them (or safe) to insure someone with my extra-curricular activity. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it.
And I don't like it because it goes back to the inherent problems in the system. Healthcare is expensive. That stems from multiple causes, but litigation (in my opinion) is a part of that equation. And litigation--or protection from it--has been a factor in driving up costs for the horse industry as well.
I did apologize to my boss for being too honest. He said it was fine and we didn't really like them anyway. He's a diver, though, so I'm not sure he has any room to talk when it comes to risky behavior.
But really? Should we all just wrap ourselves in bubble-wrap and lead safe, boring little lives? Frankly, I don't think that's what we were put here to do.
But I ride a crazy ex-racehorse, so what do I know?