Column: Roger's Soapbox

Insurance in the Post-Truth World

By: | February 20, 2017 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Most people who work in insurance know what it is: spreading the risk for the common good.

What knowledgeable people think, however, is of no moment in the post-truth world.

Sixty-four percent of people obtain their news from the internet, rather than from print or TV.  The internet believes that Kim Kardashian is the most important person on the planet.

If you enter the words “Insurance is” into search engines (which, you may recall, forced the printed Encyclopaedia Britannica out of existence), thousands of results come back.

In first place: “Insurance is a rip-off.” The opening response suggests that “as a first approximation, we assume that insurance is always a bad investment.” The fellow who wrote that justifies this view on the basis that most of us pay more for insurance than we recover from it. He wants insurance for free. No genius award for him.

Albert Einstein, that brainy fellow, was unable to find employment for years, but rejected working in insurance, because it represented “an eight hour day of mindless drudgery.”

Next comes “Insurance ISO forms,” and later “Insurance is fun.” Of the things I have heard insurance described as, fun is not one of them. Larking about naked on a yacht off Monte Carlo is fun. Insurance is serious. I thought the response would self-complete as “Insurance is fundamental,” but no such luck. I can’t work out what insuranceisfun.com is actually about, other than selling T-shirts to that effect.

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In fifth place: “Insurance is a scam,” which we’ve dealt with, and then: “Insurance is boring.” This idea is promulgated by a site named insuranceisboring.com, which has the good sense to add, on its home page, “… but it has its benefits.”

Albert Einstein, that brainy fellow, was unable to find employment for years, but rejected working in insurance, because it represented “an eight hour day of mindless drudgery.” He added: “One must avoid stultifying affairs.” So a genius award might be relevant for this site.

Insurance in Comprehensive

Next up: “Insurance is comprehensive.” However, the links all lead to comprehensive insurance, which is not the same thing at all.

“Insurance is an intangible product” follows. That one’s a worthwhile read. For years, growing up, I would hear on the news that British exports of “invisibles” were increasing. I thought I might enjoy selling invisible products to customers far, far away.

Ninth comes “Insurance is socialism.” Conceptually, it sort of is, if you think about it. “Society pools its resources together to protect against any individual’s sudden loss or misfortune,” says the first linked site.

How many insurance executives outside of China, do you suppose, think of themselves as socialists? One for all and all for one, that sort of thing. You scratch my no-claims discount, I’ll scratch yours. None, I’m guessing.

Last comes “Insurance is gambling.” Which it also sort of is.

And there you have it. In the popular mind, we in the insurance industry are socialist gamblers with the power of invisibility, fun and yet no fun, who rip people off for a living. What swine we must be. &

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