Monday, June 1, 2020

Central Camera of Chicago

So apparently there's this camera store in Chicago that burned down. Mike over at ToP has a thing on it. I'm not going to link to anything here, but you can look it all up if you like.

So they burned, and within what looks like under 24 hours they had a GoFundMe up aiming to raise $250,000. As of now, they're more than half way there and will likely blow out that number by morning (update: they didn't, the rate of new donations, while still large, has dropped a LOT). The details in the fundraiser are all pretty generic vows to rebuild, nothing whatever about the very first thing that popped to my cynical mind which was don't you guys have insurance?

At this point I can guarantee you several things: first, the owners of this business have no idea what kind of insurance settlement they are up for; second the subject of insurance is front and center in their minds. They are trying to determine if the building owner has coverage that may be relevant, they are checking with their own insurance providers, and they are seeing if there is anyone else relevant (a building management firm?) who might have some insurance they'd be eligible for.

They got the GoFundMe up before they actually filed anything.

8 hours from now they may decide not to file anything, because they'll have way more money than they need, since all they really need to do is replace inventory and cover some startup costs. The business still exists with all its goodwill, relationships, cash-on-hand, and systems. The staff all survived. What they need is a new storefront and some shit to sell.

Now, there certainly are reasons one might choose to fundraise. Perhaps they see speed as vital. Perhaps they are confident that they're underinsured (in which case, what dumbshits, but, sigh, ok.)

But you know, perhaps they also decided that, since a GoFundMe is free and photographers are dumb, they might just take a shot at raising a nice big lump of cash. The fact that they do not mention insurance, or really anything, in their fundraising campaign makes me pretty unhappy. I know they're thinking about it, so.. why aren't they talking about it?

There's some chance that if they raise $300,000 or whatever, the insurance company will just knock $300,000 off the top of whatever the settlement is in the end.

To be blunt, this feels like some good old Chicago-style grift.

Give your money to... anything else. Or, what the hell, give it to these guys. It's your money. If you just wanna give it away to some insurance company, go for it!

Me? I'm giving money to my local food bank.


  1. I can only really comment on what the situation is in Hamburg, DE, for our business, with the policies we have. We experienced a break in, which our insurance covered. Our deductable got bumped up significantly, as well as the annual cost of the policy. We were also advised by our broker that if we had another break in we would not be insurable, period.
    Regarding GoFundMe campaigns, and their ilk, the marketing/social media componenent of the exericise is not to be underrated. In the area where we work (craft brewing, in Germany), it's generally understood that this funding campaigns like this are only really attempted if the money for whatever project is already there. Having said that, well, with the Covid etc, maybe they really ARE hard up.

  2. Funny how often the story is repeated in so many different contexts. If you make a claim on your insurance the penalties you suffer because of that, subsequent higher deductibles or cancellation of insurance, are so often mentioned as reasons for not making a claim.

    So what are we all paying those premiums for?

  3. Well, while we're bashing the insurance industry: Every car insurance co. claims that drivers who switched to them save hundreds of dollars. Some quick calculations will show that if you keep switching companies pretty soon you'll be getting paid so much money you'll be set for life. I suspect that's Warren Buffet's secret.

  4. There may well be a "civil insurrection" or similar waffle clause in the policy that an insurance company may use to deny payment.