Insurance in Georgia


What is insurance? Where does it come from and why has it taken such deep and firm roots in our lives? Umpteen years ago, in America, I took a long and complicated course in the insurance business. I even ventured to take an examination but failed it, having gotten only seven points short of the passable bound, but I definitely learned something from that American academic experience.

Insurance, as officially defined, is a means of protection from financial loss and constitutes a form of risk management, primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. I have my own interpretation for the phenomenon called insurance: a huge money-generating business, based on our animal fear for possible disastrous happenings and accidental unfortunate occurrences in our lives- better to pay some money and sleep peacefully than get completely bankrupt if something unlikely happens!

In the western world, people grow with the notion of insurance ingrained in them. You cannot drive a car if you are not insured, or purchase a house without it being insured against the elements or other unexpected misfortunes. People pay serious amounts of money to insure their health, and life in general, which gives a chance for our closest and most beloved relatives to enjoy comfortable annuities in case of our accidental death. And this is all a norm of life there. Nobody is against this common law. Everyone in the West is insured for this or that. The culture of insurance is deeply instilled in a westerner’s life: that is just the way they live.

So, what is happening in Georgia in this regard? Something! Just something! Insurance has not yet become a matter of wide public consideration- when something bad happens, like floods, snow, drought, fires or landslides, the victims make long lines in front of governmental offices and petition for help and compensation. Can this happen in the West? Yes, western governments are always ready to help if the law allows, but in most cases the losses are covered by insurance companies. Some of them even go bankrupt if the suffered losses go beyond their financial means. This kind of a thing happens, but the insurance companies are also protected by the government when necessary. In the insurance business, everything is interconnected and based on firm financial logic. Lying here is almost impossible and collusions are practically excluded, although not totally unheard of.

I have to admit that in Georgia, we are learning the insurance business little by little, but the public reluctance for insurance is still persistent. People do not want to recognize that bad things are almost guaranteed to take place in our lives and we need to be protected against them. For instance, fires have lately become very commonplace incidents in Georgia, especially in marketplaces. As a consequence, rumors fly that those fires are deliberate attacks of arson, yet, regardless of cause, the victims of property loss or damage are unable to compensate their loss, hence the marches to government with hands out.

Life in this country needs to be better arranged– the desire to look and act western is not enough; the western style and way of life need to be inculcated, not just by words but by deeds. If you want to keep your business safe, go and insure it. Understandably, the owners of most of those businesses are short of money, and they come to their senses only after the oil is on fire. Well, the well-regulated insurance business is part of well-regulated life in general, but it is also the case that the runners of small businesses are unprepared to spend money on insurance even if they have enough of it. My personal feeling is that they are either too tight-fisted or their sense of future is not animal enough to recognize the potential danger ahead. It is also true that the insurance culture needs time to be nursed in our people. We are all the remains of soviet ruins, where everything was paid for us by the State.

Somebody has invented a business, known as insurance, to make money out of nothing –from our fear that something bad might happen to us - but the world has gone for it. This nation will have to do the same someday; we will all be insured, be it liability or comprehensive insurance. Georgia can no longer be different from the rest of the world except in details like Satsivi, Tamada and Khachapuri.

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

20 July 2017 17:37