Life is full of unexpected mishaps, but I've noticed that if you are careful, and prudent, and can look at the risks sensibly, then you don't always need insurance.
I am regularly bombarded with junk mail concerned with insurance. In April and May it's car insurance. In October and November, house insurance. And at all times, caravan insurance, life insurance, health insurance, travel insurance, and insurance for my mobile gadgets. The competing insurance companies (and those retailers who have a nice sideline in selling Care Plans) know when my annual policies are up for renewal, and all about my purchases, and when the manufacturers' guarantees are due to expire.
My beef today concerns mobile gadget insurance. This is an area where you can really waste money.
Before me is a letter from Currys/PC World recommending me to send them £95, for 12 months cover with their Whatever Happens Care Plan. I bought my Sony tablet from them a year ago, and the manufacturer's guarantee has now run out. So they say - I haven't checked - but even if it's true, why should I need a Care Plan for a tablet?
The Sony cost me £380 on 10 April 2012. And they want 'only £95' to 'protect it' for the next twelve months. 'A small price to pay' they say. What? It's a quarter of the purchase cost!
They stress the likelihood (and inconvenience) of repairs, breakdowns, and mishaps such as damaging the screen or spilling a drink over the device. I'm sure all these things can happen, but my personal track record on loving my gadgets, and treating them like the crown jewels, is second to none. I have never yet lost, dropped, sat on, or short-circuited any electronic device. They never go into perilous situations, never fall behind sofa cushions, never end up on the floor, never get soaked by the rain. And I am not ham-fisted, nor clumsy.
I suppose that if I lived a chaotic life and treated my gadgets like toys, then this Care Plan might make sense, especially if I'd bought a Currys/PC World special-deal, super-cheapo, low-status-brand-name tablet with low-status reliability. But a Sony? In the hands of a careful and knowledgable user? I think not.
It seems to me that Care Plans are simply a way to squeeze more cash out of the customer. Year after year. After all, if you are pursuaded that your purchase might fail in Years One and Two, isn't it even more likely that it will fail in Years Three and Four? Stands to reason.
After buying my cooker in February, and feeling that I'd paid more than I need have by getting it from a High Street shop, I looked in Currys to see what they would have charged. Sure enough, I could have saved myself at least £80, all things considered. But that excluded the cost of their heavily-promoted Care Plan. If I'd had the Plan, it would have worked out very much the same as the High Street price at the point of purchase - and who knows what it would have cost in the long run. Of course, I would have refused the Plan. But did I really want to haggle with a man determined to sell me one? How much aggro can one take?