Bridge Collapse August 1, 2007

Bridge Collapse

The Bridge Collapse is devastating, to say the least.

Jeannette from Minneapolis informs me that insurance companies will not be covering cars damaged in the collapse because it was an “act of God.” (There are no news stories I found that include further information on this, so if you see one, please link to it in the comments.)

That phrase is legal language, for what it’s worth.

In the meantime, read postings from people in the area and send some love their way.

[tags]atheist, atheism, bridge collapse, Minneapolis, Minnesota, God[/tags]

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  • Carla

    That is ridiculous! What’s next? The health insurance companies will not cover the medical bills of the victims? Do these people have any sense of ethics? Oh, no, of course not. They are called shareholders. At least one person has his head screwed on straight. This hospital employee was at the scene but when he saw he couldn’t help there he ran back to work in anticipation of wounded patients. This is his blog entry, fresh off the keyboard.

  • I love how an “act of God” is always such a terrible tragedy. At least the insurance companies aren’t afraid to call a spade a spade (“God’s an asshole, what can you do?”).

    I feel for those people though. But I still hate insurance companies.

  • It makes for a great story to tell your agent. “My car is a bit soggy and broke.” “Well, what happened to it?” “The bridge I was on collapsed.” “Do they know why?” “Nope, magic man done it.”

    One side effect of the bridge collapsing, besides the longer route to and from work, is that my mother called me for the first time since she “found out” I was an atheist in April.

  • Lee

    Wait a minute… a bridge collapse is considered a natural disaster/Act of God? Since when did nature/God start building interstate bridges of steel, concrete, and asphalt?

    Me thinks me smells a rat…

  • Katie

    I’m sure if it’s an act of God, God will be more than willing to make the situation right again – He’s a loving and compassionate God right? 😉 However, in the event that it was simply poor construction or an act of man, I am confused. My automobile insurance policy covers things like hail damage (an “act of God”) so I’m not sure what this woman is talking about.

  • Stephan

    I think Jeannette was just trying to give you fodder for your blog. I doubt that insurance companies would be that harsh (nor would God, for that matter).

    As someone who drove over that bridge every day, and was on it yesterday two hours before it collapsed, it sickens me that you would use a tragedy like this as another excuse to mock God and anyone who believes in Him. You show incredibly bad taste, which is slightly (only slightly) out of character for you.

    I would tell you to show some decency, but I guess since God does not exist in your world you don’t need to do that.

  • Insurance companies will not deny claims on “Act of God”. Out of all the insurance policies I have read, and there have been a lot since it is my business, there is no exclusion for “act of god”.
    I like to use this example when people ask me that. If Moses came down and vandalized your car with his crook on God’s orders your car would still be covered under the comprehensive coverage. Minus the deductible of course.

    As long as those cars had physical damage coverage on them (and right now I suspect they would be paid under the collision portion) they will be fixed.

    If I hear act of god one more time with regard to insurance I don’t know what I’ll do but I’ll be damned pissed.

  • I thought that was the IDEA behind insurance… unforeseeable circumstances would be covered. That’s like people who bought flood insurance not being covered for water damage.

  • God wouldn’t be that harsh, please. Thanks for being the authority on the kindness of the magic man in the clouds. I am tired of people glorifying God’s kindness, that God must have had a hand in the survival of the children on the school bus, for example, but why would God let a bridge collapse in the first place, well, that’s man’s fault, not God’s.

    Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

  • Darryl

    Stephan, this is stupid stuff.

  • stogoe

    Sorry, richard, your ‘quaint’ ideas about insurance are cute, but not accurate. Today’s unsurance industry is based on:

    *Legally requiring you to buy their product
    *Finding ways not to pay your legitimate claims
    *Inventing new and exciting ways to deny your legitimate claims (Candygrams! Pie in the face! Yoga!)
    *Increasing your premiums and deductibles without notice
    *Having money fights with your premiums

    On a more serious note, my sympathy goes out to the injured and the families of the dead.

  • ash

    i think you’re missing the point – it’s inevitably christians who trot out the old ‘act of god’ excuse. by applying this crass terminology to something like this, it implies that the omnipotent christian god can’t be bothered with stuff like cancer, famine and wars, but will step in to collapse a bridge, causing mass injury + death. to me, the christians who use the rhetoric of ‘act of god’ are the ones showing a distinct lack of decency and appalling bad taste – perhaps, like Hemant, they should’ve stuck to ‘devastating, to say the least’ and ‘send some love their way.’ – although, somehow, you seem to have found this offensive…

  • Stephan

    ash, I get it, but I have read quite a few news stories on this, and the only ones I have seen calling this an “act of God” are the atheists here, and you are simply using it as a means to mock Christians. As a Christian, how could I not find this offensive?

  • Jesus Christ, Stephan (that you may find offensive).

    “Act of God” is a legal term, and as cute as it might be for us to deny that there are actual burning bush injuries, we’re talking about the legal definition of “Act of God”.

    Does an atheist mentioning that there’s a Bible used in the court room to swear in witnesses offend you too?


    On the one hand, denied insurance claims, on the other CANDYGRAM!

  • Polly

    I interpreted Hemant’s posting as more of a jab at insurance companies using god to get out of paying someone what’s owed. You should be especially offended by such tactics.

    Has anyone seen the movie starring Billy Connolly “The Man who Sued God”?
    Billy Connoly plays an atheist (surprise) who’s insurance claim is denied because it’s an “act of god.” – lightning.

    The ending kinda sucked, though.

  • Stephan

    My problem isn’t so much with Hemant’s original post, but with those who followed up with insipid comments about how nasty God must be because this happened. Hemant, however, opened the door for it.

    It just shows that some atheists will use anything, including the pain of others, to make fun of God and faith. It’s pretty sad, and does not reflect the “Friendly Atheist” title well at all.

  • Opened the door for it? That’s weak. The bridge collapsing opened that door, and insurance companies kicked it wider…

    Besides, we did get pretty sick of that phase when all he posted was pictures of cute puppies and kitties…

  • miller

    Um… the expression “act of God” is a common insurance term having nothing to do with God. I find this expression so ordinary, I can’t see any humor in it, much less any points that can be made from it.

  • ash

    Stephan, i have yet to see anyone mock the fact that people got hurt or died, mocking a christian-influenced legal term, however, is fair game for anyone who doesn’t believe in it. i’m glad that you weren’t involved in this tragedy, but if you were to attribute that to a god’s influence, that would be the bit i mocked. if it is true that insurance companies are going to use the excuse ‘act of god’ to avoid paying up, i’m sure you’d concur that that was despicable, and @Miller, despite it being an common term, if you do not wish a god to be involved in explanations, the term ‘natural occurrence’ would be more accurate.

    also, just as Stephan posting as a christian does not reflect the Friendly Atheist site, you cannot expect all individuals to reflect the title either.

  • Calvin Moore

    Act of God? Why then can people purchase flood insurance if flooding is ALSO considered an “act of God”? And is God really in the business of collapsing bridges? WHY do we pay for car insurance if when something outside of our control happens–an accident!–we’re not going to be covered? I seriously doubt these insurance companies will become bankrupted for covering these damaged vehicles. I guess we’ll have to depend on Oprah yet again.

  • I don’t think we’ll ever hear if insurance companies refuse to cover damages or not. It’s not big enough of a story. Plus, I think the “Act of God” argument is voided if a responsible party can be determined, but as far as I’ve read, people are saying it’ll take “years” to determine the cause of collapse. There should be pretty good video around the bridge, from security, and traffic cameras. There should be plenty of evidence. Maybe reports from the workers who were on the bridge would be most helpful, maybe someone noticed something wrong during the six weeks of construction. Then again, maybe it was just all the vibration, which caused collapse. Is the state then responsible?

  • Norm

    Whatever the legal definition of “Act of God” is, what happened Wednesday doesn’t fit it. It was an act brought about as a result of a series of decisions made by a bloc of people who forgot that taxes are the price we pay for a functioning civilization. Specifically a governor and his partisans who have voted down many initiatives over the past several years that would have raised money to fix Minnesota’s ailing infrastructure, including a broadly bipartisan transportation bill earlier this past session. I hope this serves to sink Pawlenty’s political career to the bottom of the Mississippi, where many of the victims of his neglect are now lying.

  • Jonas Green

    I haven’t seen the story of calling the Bridge collapse an “Act of God” yet (outside of Hemant’s post) but regardless it reminds me of two events:

    1. The recent collapse of a section of the Big Dig in Boston, which killed one person. That led to a suit against the city.
    2. The Hurricane Katrina, where the levies failed.

    If the Hurricane was an “Act of God/Nature” in legalese at least the failure of the levies had more to do with bad engineering , as I believe both the Boston and Minneapolis cases are.

    The Political fallout will be interesting to follow.

  • Political fallout indeed, the RNC is coming to town, remember?

  • Jeannette

    I really didn’t mean for it to be this big of a deal, and I didn’t mean for it to be “fodder for Hemant’s blog”. I was speculating. As someone who also travels over the bridge often (I go the University) and a humanist I would never cheapen people lives. I was shocked, and saddened, but that doesn’t mean we have to think just about the death aspect of the tragedy. We atheists need to kill the view on us that because we don’t have “God” in our world, that means we don’t value life, or won’t be charitable.

  • Maria

    Um… the expression “act of God” is a common insurance term having nothing to do with God. I find this expression so ordinary, I can’t see any humor in it, much less any points that can be made from it.

    I agree, if you look at the definition it’s the same as “an act of nature”. the word “God” in this sense is just used to imply something beyond our control, like nature, not a literal “God”. It’s just wording……..

  • Michael Bolton

    An act of God? His reason?
    How about:

    Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”

    read the full article here:

    Desiring God: Putting My Daughter to Bed Two Hours After the Bridge Collapsed — by John Piper

  • burgeskl

    Jonas Green – from New York City?

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