An insurance claim…

Life in suburbia can be so surprising. Yesterday morning, when Kay from next door came over for a coffee break, as she came in the front door she said, “G, take a look at your hedge.” So, poking my head out the front door, I took a look. There was a gap in the hedge, five cedars worth. It looked like the gumline of an aging derelict. The downed cedars lay crushed inward on what passes for our lawn. I called Rumpole out to look.

“A hit and run, fly-by-night kind of thing, ” he announced, “it must have been some drunk”.

“Yeah,” I grumbled, ” whoever it was sure took the corner early, like 20 feet early.”

Kay says, wisely “you need to put some great massive boulders out there. That might save your cedars and give injury to sloppy drivers’ cars.” Sure, and look like we have landscaping a la Flintstones, I’m thinking. What we need is a suburban fortification? A neighbour a block away has a course of huge rocks lining the edge of his property. Every time I walked by with the dogs it would not have surprised me to see a TV shoot for the original Star Trek with Captain Kirk and Bones huddled fearful behind a boulder, requesting Scotty to beam them up to the Enterprise. It is that kind of cheesy effect that one might like not to emulate on a suburban plot. Rumpole likes the idea of rubble out front. But over my dead old body will this happen!

Once back inside, Rumpole leaves it up to me to problem-o-solve. As he maintains “I do Law, you do House.” I search out Bob’s phone number from the side of the fridge.  Bob does the yearly cut of our vigorous hedges, and has done so since Rumpole ended up in Emergency after tackling the hedge trimming with his brand new electric hedge-clippers a couple of years back. Bob is very efficient and not nearly so dramatic as Rumpole at carrying out this task.

As Kay and Rumpole sit and drink their libations, I phone Bob.

“Is it an insurance claim?” he asks. What, for a hedge, is he kidding? I’m thinking. He arranges to come over next day to quote on the replacement of the missing cedars.

I mention the possibility of an insurance claim to Rumpole and Kay. We sit around sipping coffee and scratching our heads. Hit and run hedge killing? Seems a bit far-fetched. We go on to discuss more interesting things.

Later in the evening Dry Sherry calls. She has now a permanent job at the big Gallery as an animateur. Happy with this posting. I pass on to her Martha’s compliments on how well she led a group of high school teachers through the latest exhibition on a workshop. DS is glad of positive feedback. We talk about how difficult it is for DS to continue to train her horse for dressage competitions, now that she is working full time. For some strange reason I bring up the downed cedars and just how irritated I am at this turn of events.

“You have an ICBC insurance claim”, she says. ” My father-in-law, just down the street from you regularly has to replace parts of his hedge. When drivers lose control of their cars over the bridge before his property in the wintertime, he has the same dilemma. Make your claim through ICBC.”

The penny dropped. After I ended the call with Dry Sherry, I mentioned the possibility to Rumpole in his den. We kind of gazed at each other, somewhat stupefied. We can do this? It seems so frivolous an action. We finally crunch numbers on the cost of replacing the cedars and determine since our insurance costs are so high we may as well make use of them somehow. Still, it seems somewhat an odd claim.

Today I phoned ICBC. It is not such a simple matter as talking directly to an insurance adjustor. You call, get put on hold to listen to Wayne Newton crooning “Feelings”, then some other elevator music for about a half an hour until “Thank you for continuing to hold. Our operator will be shortly with you” is announced, and you hold onto the phone with a death grip, waiting and waiting. When you “do house” and arrange for help for anything, you tend to do a lot of this holding for the next operator.

The Adjustor finally comes on line. “Have you callled the police?” he asks.

“The only living thing that died was a number of hedging cedars. Do the Police care about this?” I ask.

“Madam, we will determine whether you will need to call the police.” he replies. What? What? Do the police really have time for this, I’m thinking?

So the upshot is, later this week an adjustor will come out to take pictures of our downed cedars, make or not make a suggestion to have the police involved in a drive-by cedar downing. The whole thing is ridiculous. Surely there are better ways to spend one’s time than on something this frivolous. I mean it’s just a bloody hedge.

I am really having a hard time with this. In suburbia, one does what is required to keep up appearances, and has an insurance claim to be able to do so.  There are people who cannot afford medical insurance. I feel as if we exist in some weird dream world with skewed priorities that make no sense.

13 Responses to “An insurance claim…”

  1. Nita Says:

    Insurance claim for a broken hedge!! Never heard of it…yes surely it’s some weird dream world as you say.
    but then I guess you’re lucky in a way. Everything counts, everything matters, even a hedge.

  2. lookingforbeauty Says:

    So you don’t like my landscaping ideas!!!
    There are tastes for every individual.
    I was thinking Japanese garden aesthetics, not Star Wars. An aesthetic that loves the thoughtful placement of stele like stones to contemplate for their intrinsic beauty. It’s all in the way you look at it.

    Well, despite trashing my decorating ideas, I’ll still come over for coffee.
    Your neighbour K.

  3. maryt Says:

    G, obviously your two commenters ?, commentors?, commenteurs?, above are Canadians… if you or they lived in the US you wouldn’t be asking the questions you’re asking and as for frivolous…nothing is frivolous if you can get insurance to pay! (I don’t feel that way but down here in the lower 48 we are VERY litigious!)

    What’s ICBC? Government insurance? Do you pay for it through taxes or something?

    If you have to replace full grown hedge it could be expensive. Anyway G, I enjoyed your story. It was great!! thanks for visiting my blog today!

  4. ybonesy Says:

    I know exactly what those fake Fred Flinstone rocks are that your neighbors have. And yes, I can picture Captain Kirk waiting for Scotty.

    I suppose one way to look at it is that you pay and pay and pay that insurance. You could have put the money in a savings account for a day such as this, no?

  5. suburbanlife Says:

    Nita – yes, here everything counts, but the complexity this causes helps us concentrate on some unimportant things and distracts from a sensible view of life in general. G

    Lfb – yes, everyone to their own taste? Not really, here in suburbia – the force of “genralized” thinking and taste are very much the norm. i think the “aesthetization” of everything in our lives causes us to lose sight of simplicity, and leads to unsustainable living practices. G

    Maryt – Nita is from India, LFB from Canada and ybonesy from the US. I can understand the need for dental insurance, after all if we lose a great number of teeth replacement dentures help us to continue to chew. Replacing parts of a mature hedge is not anywhere so important, and doesn’t affect the quality of life, beyond being ‘not so nice’ to look at. I’m thinking, young immature shrubs to put in place – then let time take its course, they’ll grow in. G

    ybonesy – using a savings account to replace a hedge might be foolish. I’d rather have my savings account for necessary things like plumbing repairs, a leaky roof, etc. A hedge is kind of a non-productive embellishment, to me, anyway. G

  6. Deborah Barlow Says:

    Drive by cedar downing…that phrase alone could be a poem. Thank you for another lively posting.

  7. mariacristina Says:

    You outline a surreal world, G. I can see that sixties-style landscaping, Frank Lloyd Wright immiations.

    You’re between a rock and a hard place, what with keeping up appearances and your big heart about thepoor with no insurance. I feel squeezed in that way myself.

  8. suburbanlife Says:

    Deborah – maybe I’ll tackle that phrase for a poem idea. Thanks for that. G

    Christine – it really is not realistic to claim the loss of these hedging cedars by insurance. The claims adjuster asked if I wanted the whole hedge replaced??? What, an instant hedge, just add money? Nuts to that. We’ll plant some little guys and let them take their time to grow up. Standards in suburbia are predicated on the assumption that one must strive for perfection, lest the neighbours cringe and point fingers at one. Phooey! G

  9. pmousse Says:

    You know, the whole concept of instant gardening always concerns me… putting in full grown trees and hedges and flowers, instead of allowing things to grow to eventual maturity, as if they were part of mother nature (heaven forbid).

  10. Trish Scott Says:

    When the house next door got hit by a drunk driver creating a drive through master bath and landing just a few feet from my fence, I went with strategically placed boulders. I love my boulders. Here is the one in front of the house. It is somewhat whale like and I get a lot of wonderful comments on its beauty. Of course here in the desert I guess we feel a lot more warmly about rocks than you in Canada who appear to be used to having a lot of green stuff around. I don’t know if the image will work here in the comments field. If not you will just have to take my word that my rock is rather beautiful.

  11. suburbanlife Says:

    pmousse – i know what you mean about instant gardening. It seems we don’t consider that things have their own sweet time in developing, we’re in such a rush to achieve what? perfection? Not just in gardens either. G

    Trish – I take your word for it. Rocks in the proper context are beautiful. Of course, Utah is a wonderland of rock formations, whereas here things jusy grow and grow and threaten to overwhelm. G

  12. the individual voice Says:

    ICBC? Please define. And will the insurance cover the cost of the funeral for the trees? What type of wood for the coffins?

  13. suburbanlife Says:

    tiv – ICBC – Insurance Corporation of Brit Col – coverage of vehicular accidents and losses. No funeral coverage of poor cedars. They went to the “Great Chipper” to be returned to their origins as mulch. G

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