Monday, 17 April 2017

LIFE – Liberty Insurance For Everyone.

By Trevor Watkins

Libertarians believe in individual liberty. They reject the power that comes from subordinating yourself to the interests of the group. They believe in acting only with consent. They believe in retaliation but not initiation of force. This places them at the mercy of violent groups, who quickly impose their will on all within their reach.

We have a philosophy that will allow consenting individuals to live in peace and justice. But we lack a strategy for dealing with the aggression of organised groups, be they government or criminals or raging mobs of do-gooders.

If we rely on the mechanisms of the state for our security and our judiciary, we cannot complain about their taxes. In addition, state security mechanisms fail to protect the individual in the vast majority of cases – due to corruption, war, crime, poverty, remote areas, special interests.

Libertarians believe in the power of the market to spontaneously organise the conduct of individuals to their mutual benefit. Modern internet apps such as Uber and AirBnB are disrupting current business models with huge success. What if we could develop an app that would harness the spontaneous power of the market to preserve our safety and security, without the need for government?

The LIFE model

I first proposed the idea of Liberty Insurance For Everyone (LIFE) in my book “Consent to LIFE”, published in 2010. The idea of implementing LIFE as an app came to me recently, based on the stellar success of Uber and AirBnB.

The concept is as follows:

  • Multiple competing insurance companies offer LIBERTY INSURANCE. If your liberty is compromised for any reason, LIBERTY INSURANCE will pay you a specified amount (daily liberty benefit) based on your premiums, until your liberty is restored, or until you have been convicted of a consent violation by an insurance company tribunal. The insurance companies may also offer additional associated policies, such as life or legal costs insurance.

  • LIBERTY INSURANCE companies will offer subscribed members and agents a cellphone app.
    • You subscribe to the app when taking out Liberty insurance.
    • You or an associate (family, friend, observer) can log a liberty violation on the app, identifying yourself as a victim.
    • If confirmed, your LIBERTY INSURANCE company will publish your liberty violation on the app, along with the amount of your liberty benefit.
    • Agents registered on the app will receive a notification whenever a new liberty violation is posted, sorted by location and the daily value of each notification. The app maintains the reputation for each agent, showing success/failure stats, charges, etc.
    • Agents assess the risk/reward of each notification, and may respond to selected notifications for follow up by the victim.
    • You, the victim, or an associate, are notified of all responses and can begin a negotiation to identify the best responding agent, based on location, price, reputation and perceived risk.
    • Once you have selected one or several responding agents, they become the active agents dealing with your case. Active agents may be lawyers, mercenaries, security personnel, even employees of the cause of your loss of liberty (e.g. police officers).
    • As soon as your liberty has been secured by an active agent, and confirmed by you, your LIBERTY INSURANCE company will arrange a payment of the agreed amount to the account of the active agent(s).
    • The usual insurance strategies will apply, namely, no claim bonuses, caps on claims, right to refuse cover, etc,.

Some examples

  1. John Citizen refuses to pay tax in the jurisdiction within which he lives. Agents of the state in this jurisdiction arrest and incarcerate him, pending trial. John Citizen has LIBERTY INSURANCE with a company called LIFE. His policy pays R5000 for each day John's liberty is denied.
    John posts his liberty violation on the LIFE app. LIFE broadcasts his case via the app, and sets the daily liberty bond amount of R5000. John's family and associates are notified of his predicament.
    John receives the following responses (all responses are heavily encrypted and private to John or his authorised representative):
    1. A bail bondsman offers to pay his bail for immediate release, at 20% interest.
    2. A tax lawyer offers to review his tax affairs and arrange a settlement
    3. an anonymous tax official offers to make the charges disappear for a hefty fee
    4. a private detective offers to secure his release by blackmailing the responsible official in the state tax office
    5. a bank offers him a loan to settle his outstanding tax bill
    6. a libertarian extremist group offers to break him out of jail and smuggle him out of the country
    7. a radical libertarian lawyer offers to fight his case on the grounds that taxation is unconstitutional, and that the state has no jurisdiction to levy a tax on a free citizen
    8. a charity organisation for prisoners offers to provide him with a care parcel during his stay in prison

      John decides to go with options 1.1 and 1.7, dividing his liberty benefit equally between the two.

  2. Jim Jones gets into a fight in a bar and badly injures another bar patron. The police are called and arrest Jim on a charge of public violence. He posts his situation on the LIFE app. LIFE broadcasts his case via the app, and sets the daily liberty bond amount of R3000, with a warning that the amount is subject to a review by the LIFE tribunal within 3 days. Jim's family and associates are notified of his predicament.
    Jim receives the following responses (all responses are heavily encrypted and private to Jim or his authorised representative):
    1. A bail bondsman offers to pay his bail for immediate release, at 20% interest.
    2. The bar patron injured by Jim agrees to settle for R50,000 damages
    3. A lawyer offers to review his case and arrange a settlement with the injured party
    4. an anonymous police official offers to lose the case docket for a reasonable fee
    5. a private detective offers to investigate his case and provide exculpatory evidence for Jim.

      Two days after his arrest and incarceration the LIFE tribunal, following its own investigation, determines that the fight was 80% Jim's fault, and only 20% the injured patron's fault. Jim's daily liberty bond amount is reduced to R500/day.

      Jim opts for option 2.2 and reaches a settlement with the injured patron for R40,000. He receives R7,000 from LIFE (2 days at R3000 and 2 days at R500 in jail).

  3. Jane Doe is visiting Nigeria on business when she is abducted by a local gang for ransom. Her company pays her LIFE premium, and her liberty bond amount is R50,000 per day. Her policy also includes a R10 million life insurance component. On receipt of a ransom demand, her company posts her situation on the LIFE app. Jane's family and associates are notified of her predicament.
    Her company receives the following responses (all responses are heavily encrypted and private to Jane or her authorised representative):
    1. A ransom demand from her abductors for R20 million.
    2. A mercenary outfit offers to free Jane and capture her abductors for R5 million.
    3. A member of the abducting gang offers to provide Jane's location and betray the rest of the gang for R1 million.
    4. A hostage negotiator offers his services for R40,000 per day.
    5. The Nigerian government and police force offer to liberate Jane for free.

      The company contacts the gang member in option 3.3, pays R500,000 for information on Jane's whereabouts and passes this on to the mercenary outfit from option 3.2, who raid the gang's camp and free Jane, for a reduced fee of R3 million. Most of the mercenary fee is recovered in cash and bank accounts discovered during the gang raid. LIFE contributes R500,000 for the 10 days that Jane is held captive by the gang, plus an ex gratia award for a further R1 million based on the savings on the life insurance policy.

  4. A well-endowed charity strikes a deal with LIFE whereby the charity will sponsor the liberty bond at $100 per person per day for a whole class of victims in a dangerous area of Syria. LIFE offers its IT and app services for free.
    Around 100 people in a small village are abducted by ISIS forces and moved to a nearby ISIS stronghold. The names and details of many of the abducted victims are posted on the LIFE app. Their friends and family are notified where possible. The charity, acting as the victims' representative, receives the following responses.
    1. The governments of Syria, United States and Russia and the Secretary-General of the United Nations express their deep concern for the welfare of the abducted civilians, and undertake to do whatever they can to secure their release.
    2. An anonymous source claiming to represent ISIS offers to release the hostages on payment of a ransom of $100,000 each for the victims, to a numbered Swiss Bank Account.
    3. A little known rebel group offers to focus their attacks on the ISIS stronghold to liberate the victims, in exchange for $1 million worth of weapons, up front.
    4. A Mossad-linked mercenary group offers to free the hostages in an Entebbe style operation, for $100,000 per freed living hostage, or a flat fee of $1 million.
    5. A second rebel group has 50 ISIS soldiers in captivity. They offer to trade the ISIS soldiers in exchange for the abducted victims, plus a bounty of $2000 per released hostage.

      The charity elects to go with option 4.5, ISIS agrees to the swap and 80 surviving victims are released into the rebel groups custody. The charity pays $160,000 to the rebel group for the release of the hostages.

Further comments


  • The Liberty Insurance product does not contradict any existing civil or criminal statutes. The victim's choice of response is encrypted and unknown to the LIFE company. There is nothing to stop this product being offered in the current legal environment in most countries.
  • The app would create a market for underwriting the liberty of individuals. One can expect many sub-industries to arise, such as professional liberation operations, professional reputation sources, etc.
  • We can expect the role of traditional security organisations such as the police, sheriffs, court officials to be significantly undercut by the more efficient private options offered. In the longer term this may lead to the libertarian ideal of reduced government.
  • We might finally provide an answer to the eternal “its all very well in theory” accusation levelled at most libertarian ideas.
  • This approach allows victims and their associates to take responsibility for and control of their own destinies, instead of leaving their safety and security in the usually incompetent hands of government officials.

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