Insurance

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Insurance, in all its forms, is one of the pillars of the monetary economy. Without it, the entire financial building would collapse overnight. It is vital to the way things are. But is it vital to you personally? If you decide that you do need some form of it, that simple fact forces you into the monetary economy in order to get the credits to pay for it. That’s fine if all you are after is a more frugal, simple life, but how would it work if you wanted to go completely moneyless?

In the days before insurance companies existed, a family’s insurance was often the connections they had with the community around them – that uncontracted, informal guarantee that if anyone’s house (or teepee) burnt down, everyone in the community would look after them and help them rebuild a roof over their head. In a localised economy, this wasn’t such a big deal, as houses were simpler and people still knew how to make use of locally available materials and, just as importantly, how to help each other. I’d love my insurance in life to be that: community, friendship, interdependency, as part of a people who look after each other unconditionally, no matter what. Instead we opt for official documents that do nothing to increase the bonds between ourselves and our fellow humans.

For better or worse, these are not such times, and this is where the POP model comes in handy. As my biggest advice is to live so simply that you don’t have anything you mind losing, I would have ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ as my top level on it. Personally, I’ve only ever had insurance once, when I owned a houseboat, which I sold to set up the Freeconomy movement and start living moneyless. Since then I’ve never owned anything of much financial worth. However, your situation may be very different to mine, and you will likely have some possessions.

If you feel you need a car, then complete moneyless living will not be an option, as insurance is a legal requirement. If you want to insure stuff that does not legally need to be insured, that’s a choice only you can make, but it obviously does mean you’ll need to earn legal tender to pay for it. If you want life insurance or a pension, there are no moneyless solutions I know of, other than cultivating loving relationships and interdependent, real community. It is possible that insurance may be appropriate for you now, but less so as you work your way up your own POP model towards less money-dependent living.

Home insurance is not a legal requirement unless you have had to borrow money to buy your home – if this is the case it is almost certain the lender will legally require you to take out an adequate policy. That said, if you’re paying back a mortgage then insurance premiums are the least of your concerns in terms of living moneylessly. If you want to bin the mortgage, building your own low impact home could be your solution (see chapter seven), as they cost a fraction of a conventional house (simple designs can be built without money). Simon and Jasmine Dale’s ‘hobbit’ house(78) in Lammas is so beautifully designed, both aesthetically and functionally, that international media regularly feature it. Yet it only cost £3,000 to build – I know people who have spent that on a sofa or television set alone! Ardheia’s dwellings in France(79) are another example of how our homes can be aesthetically exhilarating without them costing the Earth. As we have seen in the last section, there will be the issue of planning permission to overcome, but with determination you can.

If you own your home outright, which is often the case with low-cost, low impact homes, there are no legal obligations in the UK. Therefore my advice is to simply live in the present. We often negatively stigmatise people who have gambling problems, yet by taking out insurance policies we non-gamblers gamble every day. With insurance, you’re betting that something unfortunate will happen to you during the course of the next insurance period. If you live accident-free for that time, you lose, but if something ‘bad’ happens to you, you win! I can’t encourage you enough to just live in the moment, and not in the future, otherwise when you do eventually die you’ll realise that you’ve never really lived. Jermaine Evans once quipped that “so many people tiptoe through life, so carefully, to arrive, safely, at death”. Better to die fully engaged in life, I’d say.