Tag Archives: 1998 ice storm

Insurance companies aren’t heroes

Insurance Bureau of Canada ice storm ad

This ad ran in the paper last week from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. It talks of the 10th anniversary of the ice storm, and the recovery efforts that brought everyone together. It also notes how proud the insurance industry is of the “vital role” it played in that recovery.

It’s along similar lines to this letter from a couple of weeks ago, talking about the heroic insurance adjusters who processed hundreds of thousands of claims in the weeks that followed.

OK sure, it was a lot of work and I’m sure those insurance people had to work overtime. And unlike airline pilots or police officers, insurance adjusters rarely have moments of great triumph in their profession. But this ad makes them out to be heroes, just for processing some forms and cutting some cheques.

Had the insurance companies gone out of their way, above and beyond in compensating policy holders, I might have let them shamelessly suck in the pats on the back. But they didn’t. Instead, they warned people without power not to leave their homes unless they were forced to by the government, saying they wouldn’t be compensated for additional living expenses. A class-action lawsuit is still being fought to get policy holders compensated.

Perhaps instead of spending so much money on advertising masturbation they could settle the lawsuit and give their clients the money they’re owed.

Your guide to media coverage of the 1998 ice storm anniversary

The floodgates opened this morning on ice storm anniversary stories. Every major local media outlet has something, and many have a lot.

Part of that is because there isn’t much news on the 5th of January. Part is because they’ve had 10 years (with constant electricity) to prepare. And part is because it had such a profound impact on everyone’s lives for two weeks to a month.

This is perhaps the first big project among local media relying on reader-generated content. It’s easy to see why: Everyone remembers the ice storm. The supply of stories is practically infinite.

The problem is that everyone’s story sounds about the same. We were without power. The roads were hard to drive. We had to leave our home and move in with a family member who had power. We communicated with our neighbours for the first time ever. We helped people in need. We were happy to see electricians from the U.S. who came to help. There was a lot of snow and ice.

That’s the problem with user-generated content. It can produce some stunning gems, but most of it is boring filler not worth our time to read.

The archives are fun to look at (particularly the audio/video from the CBC and the PDF pages from The Gazette), to see how different the media and the world was just 10 years ago (67 cents/litre for gas was considered gouging).

Here’s what I’ve found so far (some links via mtlweblog), recommended reading highlighted in bold:

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Everyone wants your ice storm stories

It seems every media outlet in town is looking for personal stories about the 1998 ice storm, 10 years later:

The usual exclusive rights contracts apply to anything you give them, including the right to re-sell your photos and stories for profit, strip your name from them or do anything else they damn well please without needing your permission first.

Frankly I think there should be a bidding war for good stories.