Suppose you own the car that's being blown up in this image. You park, run into the convenience store across the street for some batteries, and then some right-wing armored militia blasts everything in its way as it frantically tries to kill Captain America with rocket launchers. No more car. Now what?
In an earlier post, Mark mentioned that the construction industry in the comic book world must account for a large portion of the economy. I bet there is also a lucrative superhero / supernatural disaster insurance industry to deal with these externalities.
How would this insurance industry be set up and organized in the comic book world? Certainly no one is chasing after Superman asking him to pay each time the Daily Planet globe is decapitated from the building. So who is paying? I think there are several options for how a system of insurance in the comic book world could work:
1) A comprehensive, public system. If this government pays for all the damages, then this would effectively be equivalent to having no insurance at all. Instead, the government would levy extremely high taxes from the general public ($18 billion per person per year by Mark's count) and use them to cover all the costs of supernatural disasters.
2) A mixed public/private system. Such a system could be organized any number of ways, but I think two in particular make the most sense. One could be a system similar to obtaining catastrophic insurance (or high-deductible health insurance plans), but in this case it would be paid for by the government. So the government would only pay for certain services, such as for damage caused by superheroes of supervillains to your home, and would only pay "catastrophic" expenses--those that exceed a certain predetermined amount in costs. Everything else would be paid for out-of-pocket by the homeowner. The other way is to establish a base government benefit for certain services (i.e. superhero destruction, supervillain destruction, destruction to your home, destruction to your car, etc.) up to a certain amount. Beyond this base benefit, individuals can elect to purchase supplementary insurance to cover services not included in the package.
3) Market-Based System. This would work exactly like insurance markets work on real Earth. Multiple insurance companies would compete, offer coverage for different services related to superhumans, and charge premiums for that coverage. Likely there would be some significant administrative costs, since most coverage would probably be purchased at the individual level. Furthermore, premiums would be rated by region. That is, if an individual lives in a particularly active area of Metropolis or Keystone City, superhero insurance premiums would be much higher than they would for someone living in Kansas, where there is no action unless Darkseid takes over the entire world (but seriously, how rare is that?)
I will post my views on which system is the best later, but for now I'd love to get reader opinions: Which system makes the most sense in the comic book world? Is insurance necessary at all? A few things to keep in mind:
1) If a public/private system were put into place, should insurance be mandated? If not, then how would they prevent the richer individuals from opting out of the system, thereby increasing average premiums and shrinking the market?
2) Are there any measures that can be taken to minimize the amount of superhero destruction?
3) Should premiums be rated any other way than just by region?
4) What should be included in the base benefit?