Why should the insurance industry pick up the tab for fast food addicts, smokers, drinkers and anyone else who can't exercise restraint, asks John Jackson

If further evidence were needed that Britain is going barmy and the insurance industry is being hung out to dry as a result, then the concern of public liability underwriters over mounting claims for obesity, alcohol and tobacco-related illnesses must remove any doubt.

The public, it seems, is blaming the fast food chains for their obesity, and drink and smokes manufacturers for their heavy drinking and smoking. Result: a growth in that expanding disease - the compensation culture.

Underwriters are looking to companies that produce these goods - and they read like the Forbes 500 - to review their risk management. Note that the onus is seen to be on the providers, not those weak-willed ninnies buying the goods.

It seems it is everybody's fault but that of the poor defenceless public. Manufacturers are at fault for producing the goods so the insurers want to charge higher premiums to cover the increase in claims.

But why should McDonald's or BAT carry the can? And why should liability insurers be forced to pick up the tab in this Marx Brothers world in which we now live?

This is madness writ large yet no one seems to be raising hell about it. If people eat food that makes them fat or smoke cigarettes that give them cancer or drink alcoholic drinks that get them bombed out of their heads, whose fault is it but their own?

Insurers do not pay out for suicides, nor do they cough up for self-inflicted wounds. If people consciously do things that ruin their health or that lead to an early death, why should the insurance company have to pay out on their claims?

And why should the law protect such people from the results of their own folly - from greed and avarice? If they want to be uninsurable, make them uninsurable.

Downward slide
It is the same with debt. Credit cards are the curse of society today. Like eating the wrong food or smoking and drinking to excess, getting into too much debt can be avoided by the exercise of simple self-restraint. It is within the control of the individual to do something about it.

Surely the insurance industry can devise ways of excluding such behaviour from cover under existing policies.

The real worry is, given the downward and escalating slide along which society is moving, that the situation for insurers will only get worse.

The government's chief inspector of schools has said parents are raising the worst generation yet. Some kids can't even use a knife and fork. Will insurers have to pay for claims involving fingers being bitten off during mealtimes?

One wonders how the actuaries are going to work out the likely liability of insurers in 20 years' time. I wish them well.

And this is a generation that will be tomorrow's parents. What on earth will the children of today's younger generation be like? One shudders to think.