Rule#74: Motorcycle Paradox

Rule #74: Motorcycle Paradox

As an insurance geek and underwriter I have very few opportunities to teach my kids life skills from my career. I couldn’t show them how to make a compound joint or tune up a Chevy, most of my lessons were boring and not useful in daily life.

But along came Corina 19 and I am now able to teach them about the thing I work with daily RISK.  As an underwriter by trade I had to learn how to measure risk, decide which risks I would take or avoid and how to price the assumption of risk.

For an underwriter the challenge is not to avoid risks, but to take the right risks for the right price. If you own a car the best way to lower or eliminate liability risk is to simply keep it in the garage and never move it. If you never  take it on the road you can’t hurt yourself or others. But then what is the point of having a car at all. Hiding is the garage is not an option.

Every parent of a new 16 yr old driver knows they risk their child’s life by giving them access to a car.  Every time my kids would drive off I would worry about the risk they were taking.  It the acceptance of risk that makes living possible- it’s scary but it’s life.

Covid is scary and keeping my kids from work and school would be far safer.. but that garage would feel very small very quickly. Hiding in the garage is not an option.

Underwriting risk is a process of understanding. The better we understand risk  the better we can assess it. But this requires accurate and unbiased information- something that it true, and not just an advocation of something you believe. In insurance we saw  “disinformation” happen with sexual misconduct claims, environmental and construction defects- the first “information “caused panic and shut down all insurance availability. As actuate facts developed common sense started to come back to the market. Bad information leads to bad decisions. With Covid there is a whole lot  of bad information- WHO, CDC and others say things that contradict their previous statements. In insurance it’s follow the actuaries – but the actuaries often disagree. In COVID it’s follow the Scientists .. but what do you do when scientists at WHO say shut downs hurt people worse than COVID and scientists in NY say close down the schools. The truth is every actuary and scientist needs to be evaluated for bias and inaccuracy. It’s a trust but verify policy. Listen to everything but believe ONLY what you can validate. People have bias which will impact their decisions. Truth matters.

The “motorcycle paradox”, is similar to the mask issue with COVID.  Virtually nothing has more data than the effectiveness of seat belts in mitigating injuries , and that data has lead to mandated seat belt laws in all 50 states. Its for our own good.

Yet there are over 8 million motorcycles in the USA with obviously no seatbelts… and there are a majority of states (31) that have laws allowing adults to ride without helmets. How can we allow people to hurt themselves and others with motorcycles and at the same time require these same people to wear seat belts.
Why aren’t motorcycles illegal?

People know the risk and are will to assume it.

I’m trying to understand how driving without a helmet is less dangerous than walking in public without a mask. I always wore a helmet when I rode a motorcycle- and didn’t get angry at those that did not.

I wear a mask because I am 60 and have diabetes – but I don’t get angry at the people walking without them.  Yes there is an slightly elevated risk with some people not wearing them- but it’s a price of living is a free society. I accept motorcycles, sky drivers and gun owners.. freedom has risk.

My kids need to be good underwriters.. not fearful of taking risk or stupidly assuming unneeded danger. I truly wish I could wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them from all harm, but then they would not live life.

So drive safely…but get out and enjoy life. Its all goes to fast to not get on a motorcycle from time to time ( but wear a helmet)












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