Today is Friday the 13th and, perhaps coincidentally, we will also be treated to the sight of a full moon. Additionally, there could be a bird in your house or a hat on the bed. You might not be aware of those last two superstitions, but they affect your life as much as the lunar cycle or the date: that is, not really at all.
People do believe these events shape their fortunes, and that belief inevitably alters their lives in some form or another. Origins of these beliefs are unclear; the two leading theories behind the fear of the number 13 - which is called triskaidekaphobia - say the number’s evil association comes from Judas’s status as the 13th guest at the Last Supper or that a man condemned to die climbs 13 steps up the hangman’s ladder to the noose.
Full moons have always been retroactively blamed for crop failure, sightings of strange beasts, and birth defects. One of the oldest English terms for “monster” was “mooncalf” to indicate a creature born during a full moon. Despite the ominous overtones these two eldritch events falling on the same day just happens to be a cosmic accident, two celestial pedestrians passing by one another.
But we as a culture have not shed these fearful associations. Teachers notice more rambunctious behavior from young students during full moons. Even surgeries, a product of the widespread adoption of observation and rationalism, aren’t likely to be scheduled during either of these events.
Insurance Companies are Clearly Superstitious, Too
Most tellingly, rumor has it that an email went out earlier this week to the employees of an unidentified insurance company informing them to be wary of an increased volume of calls from addled individuals polarized by the moon and the date. Employees were told that reports of car accidents or other related incidents from their customers would likely be outrageous and outlandish and that they should utilize extra caution when fielding calls from accident victims, specifically because of the superstitions associated with Friday the 13th.
Additionally, this email allegedly told adjusters that as many claims as possible should be denied, and that they should treat all customer messages suspiciously. Sadly, these tactics are hardly unique to superstitious holidays, as it's hardly a secret that insurance companies throughout the U.S. regularly employ unethical strategies to increase their own profitability.
In reality, this alleged email might as well be sent out every day. Insurance companies crouch in this defensive stance, deflecting valid claims to increase their own bottom line. They blame the innocent party and insist policies have exclusions that are not really there. Companies incentivize their employees to deny claims through bonuses.
These are just a few examples of various strategies used to do less for their customers. You can read more about these tactics in Unsurance: The Ugly Truth About Unethical Business Practices in the U.S. Insurance Industry. The report is free to download and was authored by award-winning attorney Chris Davis, and provides a unique perspective into the many "tricks of the trade" employed by insurance adjusters and their supervisors.