So then…I answer the phone and a voice says, “Do you have a trampoline in your backyard?”
Actually, I do. But now that someone’s asking, I’m suddenly, inexplicably nervous about admitting it.
“Who is this?” I ask.
“This is Jean at Harry’s office. You asked us to re-quote your car and home insurance.”
“Oh, right, right.” I recall now that I asked our insurance broker to check for lower premiums.
“It’s still out to bid,” she says. “But one of the insurance companies asked me if that’s a trampoline in your backyard.”
“Um, why are they asking?” I ask suspiciously.
“Some insurance companies charge higher premiums for that – and some won’t even write policies for homes with trampolines because they’re so dangerous,” she explains.
Suddenly I feel guilty that I’ve allowed my kids to gleefully jump, flip, roll, and twirl on that trampoline for years. It has a huge netting enclosure so I think it’s pretty safe – and so far, no injuries. Plus they’ve enjoyed lots of bouncing, laughing, exercise-filled fun in the great outdoors, so that assuages my guilt a bit.
But the mildly accusatory tone of the question makes me uneasy about admitting it, especially now that I’ve learned it may affect my premiums.
I ask a bit defensively, “Why do they suspect I have a trampoline anyway?”
She says, “Oh, they Google-mapped your house. On the computer, they looked at an aerial view of your backyard, front yard, the house, driveway, everything.”
“What? Are you kidding me? They’re looking at aerial photos of my home? That’s an invasion of privacy!” I object.
“Oh, all the insurance companies do that now. Aerial photos make it easy for them to spot any trouble before they write policies. They typically do a drive-by in person too, but the aerial photos save a lot of time to eliminate bad prospects right away.”
I’m outraged! This is sounding very Big Brother-y to me.
Now I have to worry about what we happen to be doing outside when the satellite cameras pass overhead?
What’s next? Will the insurance companies ask me:
Hey, are those your kids playing with matches on the front steps? Fire Insurance: denied.
Are you chasing a bee swarm with a blowtorch? Insurance denied.
Is that you skinny-dipping in the pool? Insurance denied.
Are those beer bottles strewn around your backyard while you and your friends try to build a tree house in a palm tree? Insurance denied.
Why is there a motorcycle in the pool? Insurance denied.
I’m not saying these things happened – but if they did happen, that’s MY business!
I’m just totally freaked out by the idea that someone can be sitting miles away in a little office watching what’s going on in my backyard on their computer screen. And how can they not be super judgy? Are they sitting there saying things like:
Darcy, is that your third glass of wine?
Do you really need to spend that much time “training” the cute new pool guy?
That honeysuckle bush needs watering.
And what if they perfect thermal imaging so insurance companies can see what we’re doing INSIDE the house?
Is that you sneaking Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at midnight when we specifically heard on our listening device that you swore to your family there was no ice cream left? Insurance denied.
Is that you giving us the finger? Insurance denied.
“So,” Jean says, bringing me back to the present. “DO you have a trampoline?”
“That’s what they think, huh?” I hedge.
“Yeah, they said they saw a big dark circle on the aerial photo of the backyard, so they figured it was a trampoline,” she says.
“Maybe it’s a moon crater.”
“Huh?” she says.
“Or like a really big black round blanket I’m knitting for an orphanage.”
“Darcy–,” she says.
“Yeah, OK, it’s a trampoline, dammit. And yes, I will get rid of the trampoline. If that will make them happy! It won’t make my kids happy, I’ll tell you that. And I’m totally blaming it on the insurance company!”
So I break the news to the kids, but they’re not too upset since they’ve had several good years on the trampoline and have started to outgrow it anyway.
I then explain to them in elaborate detail how insurance companies can basically see anything that’s happening in our yard and driveway and possibly home – and that they’ll report back to me any suspicious behavior perpetrated by my children.
They don’t believe me. Rubes.
Meanwhile I consider thwarting the thermal imaging sensors when I dip into my secret Ben & Jerry’s stash by wearing a tinfoil suit.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Can you share a related story about invasion of privacy or something that seems Big Brother-ish? Any funny stories about Google maps, satellite photos, insurance, tinfoil suits?)
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