A friend of ours recently had a tree fall in their yard crushing their daughter’s car. They contacted their Allstate insurance company agent about filing a claim to get the tree removed and have car repaired.
Their agent told them that if the tree fell due to “natural causes”, because it was damaged (rotted, for example), the company would pay the claim. However, if the tree had been healthy the accident would be considered an “Act of God” and therefore the company would NOT pay the claim.
Consider the implication here – a business is not going to honor a contract because they feel that an unseen supernatural being has acted in a manner outside the realm of “natural causes”. God apparently capriciously decided to push a tree down on this young woman’s car; perhaps in punishment her for some sinful transgression. So naturally the insurance company doesn’t want to undermine God’s wrath by compensating the poor girl. SMITE!
So what if the insured doesn’t believe in God? Let us say this customer’s house if burglarized but the police cannot find any evidence of a break-in. Can the insurance company not pay the claim because they believe Fairies have stolen the TV and stereo?
I keep hearing stories like this and find myself glancing at the calendar to remind myself that we are living in the 21st century. How can “Act of God” be a legally enforceable provision of ANY legal contract in this day and age?
The tree fell. There is a natural cause for it falling, perhaps the extra-saturated rain soaked Oregon soil could not hold the tree, or it grew too large for its root base. Were it me, I would make the insurance company PROVE that God pushed over that tree.
I would also tell the agent that if he does not pay that claim, there is a damn good chance that a piano might fall on him while on his way home.
[Caption: "God at his computer". His finger hovering over the "Smite" key.]