It’s a Wonderful Insurance


Face it, everyone loves It’s a Wonderful Life. Who can’t relate to the story of how one man’s seemingly insignificant life touches so many others? Who can resist tearing up at least a bit when the town comes to George Bailey’s aid? Who can watch without seeing all the insurance risks throughout the movie?

OK, most people don’t probably worry about the insurance risks of the classic tale. Here at, however, we can’t help but point them out so that you won’t find yourself on a snowy bridge worrying about the future.

The sledding accident

Remember how George loses his hearing in one ear. He saves his brother Harry who falls through the ice on a pond. Let’s assume that the pond was on someone else’s property. The property owner would be liable for a lawsuit to pay for George’s injury – maybe the treatment would have restored George’s hearing. The frozen pond is known as an “attractive nuisance” – the property owner should have built a self-locking fence around it to keep George, Harry, and the other town youths away from the danger.

The swimming pool

For some reason, Bedford Falls High School had a swimming pool under the gym floor. That’s a huge liability, requiring the school probably to have an umbrella policy in place because of the risk of an accident (particularly when the controls to the retractable gym floor can be hijacked by high school kids).

Travel insurance (for the honeymoon)

After George and Mary get married, they planned to go on a trip for their honeymoon. Unfortunately, a run begins on the Building & Loan (because the evil Mr. Potter calls in its loans). He and Mary spend their honeymoon money to keep the B&L afloat. If they’d purchased travel insurance, they might have been able to recoup some of the money.

The life insurance policy

Remember when George tries to borrow the missing $8,000 from Mr. Potter and offers his life insurance policy as collateral. Because the $15,000 policy has only $500 in equity, the old miser tells our hero: “You’re worth more dead than alive.” Which prompts George to go to the bridge and contemplate suicide until Clarence the Angel intervenes. Problem is, killing himself wouldn’t have done George any good. Life insurance policies all have one exclusion: Suicide.

The wreck

George, after having presumably one drink at Martini’s Bar, leaves and crashes into a tree near the bridge where he eventually plans to kill himself. The property owner yells at him for damaging the tree. Now here’s the thing: If George had auto liability insurance (required in nearly every state), the policy could pay for the damage to the man’s property. If he had collision insurance, it would pay to repair his car – once he met his deductible.

The ‘missing’ deposit

The key scene in the movie’s setup occurs when Uncle Billy loses the $8,000 deposit on the same day the bank examiner arrives in Bedford Falls. That triggers the confrontation with Potter, the wreck, and George’s near-brush with suicide. George, as CEO of the Building and Loan, should have known that nearly a third of all business bankruptcies are caused by employee theft. An employee dishonesty policy would have saved him a lot of trouble seeing what the town would have been like without him, though he’d have to throw Uncle Billy under the bus to collect.

Yes, insurance could have solved many of George’s problems and maybe made for a more wonderful life along the way. But maybe it’s better that things played out as they did. It would have been a shame if Clarence hadn’t gotten his wings.

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