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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. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

As a professor of business, Jack Hampton knows firsthand the positive impact education has on risk managers as they tackle growing risks.
By: | April 9, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Ellen Thrower, president (retired), The College of Insurance, introduced me to the importance of insurance as a component of risk management. Further, she encouraged me to explore strategic and operational risk as foundation topics shaping the role of the modern risk manager.

Chris Mandel, former president of RIMS and Risk Manager of the Year, introduced me to the emerging area of enterprise risk management. He helped me recognize the need to align hazard, strategic, operational and financial risk into a single framework. He gave me the perspective of ERM in a high-tech environment, using USAA as a model program that later won an excellence award for innovation.

Bob Morrell, founder and former CEO of Riskonnect, showed me how technology could be applied to solving serious risk management and governance problems. He created a platform that made some of my ideas practical and extended them into a highly-successful enterprise that served risk and governance management needs of major corporations.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

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From a background in corporate finance and commercial banking, I accepted the position of provost of The College of Insurance. Recognizing my limited prior knowledge in the field, I became a student of insurance and risk management leading to authorship of books on hazard and financial risk. This led to industry consulting, as well as to the development of graduate-level courses and concentrations in MBA programs.

R&I: What was your first job?

The provost position was the first job I had in the industry, after serving as dean of the Seton Hall University School of Business and founding The Princeton Consulting Group. Earlier positions were in business development with Marine Transport Lines, consulting in commercial banking and college professorships.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Creating a risk management concentration in the MBA program at Saint Peter’s, co-founding the Russian Risk Management Society (RUSRISK), and writing “Fundamentals of Enterprise Risk Management” and the “AMA Handbook of Financial Risk Management.”

A few years ago, I expanded into risk management in higher education. From 2017 into 2018, Rowman and Littlefield published my four books that address risks facing colleges and universities, professors, students and parents.

Jack Hampton, Professor of Business, St. Peter’s University

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The Godfather. I see it as a story of managing risk, even as the behavior of its leading characters create risk for others.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Jameson’s Irish whiskey. Mixed with a little ice, it is a serious rival for Johnny Walker Gold scotch and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Mount Etna, Taormina, and Agrigento, Sicily. I actually supervised an MBA program in Siracusa and learned about risk from a new perspective.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

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Army Airborne training and jumping out of an airplane. Fortunately, I never had to do it in combat even though I served in Vietnam.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

George C. Marshall, one of the most decorated military leaders in American history, architect of the economic recovery program for Europe after World War II, and recipient of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. For Marshall, it was not just about winning the war. It was also about winning the peace.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Sharing lessons with colleagues and students by writing, publishing and teaching. A professor with a knowledge of risk management does not only share lessons. The professor is also a student when MBA candidates talk about the risks they manage every day.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

Sensitizing for-profit, nonprofit and governmental agencies to the exposures and complexities facing their organizations. Sometimes we focus too much on strategies that sound good but do not withstand closer examination. Risk managers help organizations make better decisions.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

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Developing executive training programs to help risk managers assume C-suite positions in organizations. Insurance may be a good place to start but so is an MBA degree. The Risk and Insurance Management Society recognizes the importance of a wide range of risk knowledge. Colleges and universities need to catch up with RIMS.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk and its impact on hazard, operational and financial strategies. A terrorist can take down a building. A cyber-criminal can take down much more.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

My family members think I’m a professor. They do not seem to be too interested in my views on risk management.




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]