Money can’t buy – nor can it insure – happiness.

Ah, the China Buffet. ‘Twas there I dined this afternoon, and there I received this cookie-enshrouded fortune:

Having more money does not insure happiness.

Okay, let’s ignore that the writer almost certainly meant to say “Having more money does not ensure happiness,” because I’m curious about how I would go about insuring my happiness.

If you look at the automobile insurance card you’ve got in your wallet, purse, or buried in a three-month-high pile of mail on the desk at home, you’ll see the name of the insured party, the policy number, effective dates, some information about the vehicle and the insurer, and a whole bunch of coverage codes. It’s the coverages for happiness insurance that interest me.

Would my happiness insurer make distinctions between happiness at work and happiness at home? Those are probably separate coverages, each with different factors that determine your premium. For example, if you work at The Shoe Shack, you might expect to pay a higher Work Happiness premium than if you worked in the beer-tasting department of a brewery. Unless you had a foot fetish, which might lower your premium at The Shoe Shack. Likewise, an aversion to alcohol might cause your premium to go up if you worked at the brewery. Way, way up.

What about Home Happiness? Does my premium go up or down when I have kids? Or does it depend on how many kids I have? Perhaps the premium goes down when a child is initially born, but then goes up when the kid turns sixteen. And, of course, you can expect a big premium hike when daddy’s little princess tells you she’s pregnant before she’s even out of high school, or when junior gets busted for possession with intent to distribute.

As for deductibles, I suppose that applies to therapy sessions and Zoloft prescriptions, but maybe your insurer would waive the deductible for minor claims. In the world of happiness insurance, feeling a bit bummed would be the equivalent of having your windshield replaced because a dump truck kicked up a rock in the auto insurance world.

Then there’s the whole issue of subrogation: going after the other guy’s insurance company when you’re not liable for the damage. I’m not sure how that would work. I mean, if your beloved Uncle Bernard kicks the bucket, would your happiness insurer go after Uncle Bernie’s insurer? That’s kind of a grey area, and would probably vary from state to state, depending upon the applicable insurance legislation. In some states, your insurer might sic their lawyers on Baskin-Robbins because they were out of blue moon and you had to settle for fudge marble. Hey, that kind of thing can ruin a person’s day.

Finally, there’s the matter of settling an unhappiness claim. For the sake of simplicity, let’s leave the problem of happiness insurance fraud for another discussion and assume that our claim is legitimate. For one reason or other, we are unhappy. We’ve been paying our premiums and we’ve met our deductible and now the insurer must make good on the policy. How do they do it? We all know money can’t buy happiness (never mind about that deductible, just work with me here), so how is the claim settled? Will we open our door one morning to find an army of balloon-mangling clowns camped out on the lawn? Or will a herd of puppies come trampling through the living room?

That’s the tricky bit, because happiness is… well, that really depends on who you ask. It might be a fast car, a clean house or even a warm gun. Trickier still is the fact that what makes you happy might make me unhappy, and vice versa. Even worse, your unhappiness itself might be the source of my happiness. Sounds like you need a schadenfreude clause in your policy and I need a firm kick in the crotch.

The realm of happiness insurance is likely to be fraught with more complexities, legislation, lawsuits and fraud than even medical malpractice insurance, and the real reason that you can’t insure your happiness may be because no one in their right mind would offer such a policy. Maybe that’s where the clowns come in.

I guess it all boils down to one simple fact: I shouldn’t eat so much Chinese food.