Column: Roger's Soapbox

Perspective | In England, Insurance Is Above the Law

By: | July 30, 2018 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

I was quite old when I was sent to the government re-education center. This being England, not Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China, there was a fair chance I’d emerge from detention alive. The force driving my punishment was not ideological dissidence — if it were, I’d have been shot years ago.


This also not being Hitler’s Germany, my accuser was not a neighbor or a family member, but a robot. First law of robotics: You cannot argue with a mechanical device. When a robot categorizes you as criminal, that’s what you are. No due process required.

The robot in question was a speed camera. Ever vigilant, it photographed me driving at 39 miles an hour along a street where the limit was 30. The police documents explained that no excuse was possible, no circumstance mitigating. I didn’t fight the law, and the law won.

Britain operates a points system for drivers. Twelve points bring automatic license suspension. The three points my speeding would earn didn’t much faze me. I don’t own a car but rent one for special occasions. I do that rarely, so my chances of obtaining nine more points are tiny. Why, then, did I subject myself to four hours of accusation, condemnation and condescension?

It wasn’t fear of the law; it was fear of insurance. The greater the points, the greater the premium.

Why did I subject myself to four hours of accusation, condemnation and condescension? It wasn’t fear of the law; it was fear of insurance.

Re-education erases the potential three points as if nothing happened. One becomes, once again, in the eyes of the law, a person who has never committed a crime. It’s a valuable status in case one ever does want to commit a crime. Previous good behavior is currency when you give the swine downstairs exactly what they deserve.

Re-education means I could be named a Justice of the Peace or run for high office without fear of the skeleton in my closet. I will enjoy no such status, however, with the company that insures the next vehicle I rent. One of the questions asked when you rent a car, or renew insurance on your own vehicle, is, ‘Have you recently been caught speeding?’

Lying is not advised.


Insurance is, therefore, above the law, and that ain’t right. If it’s good enough for the police and the state to treat me as blemish-free, why can’t insurance companies?

Wait, I hear something. Ah, it’s readers explaining that their business is based on experience, period.

It must be their experience that informs the decision to refuse to insure me when I reach 71 years of age. Not worth the risk, the companies say.

I’ll have to buy a car instead. If I buy a car at that age, every insurance company in Britain would be delighted to insure me — at an increased premium because of a crime police records show me not to have committed. They might just as well load the premium for my part in the Valentine’s Day Massacre. No, wait, forget I said that, and don’t go getting ideas.

Should I reach 71, the notion of a life sentence won’t mean very much. It will be time to start being very nice to me. Motor insurers, kindly take note. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.


But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.


Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]