Column: Roger's Soapbox

Perspective | Give Me 500 Words and I’ll Prove Why Insurance Matters Most

By: | September 28, 2018

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Risk & Insurance® is on a tripartite mission: To show that insurance is interesting, that the people who work in it are interesting and that it serves a vital purpose. I shall now endeavor to fulfill that mission in 500 words.

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(Of course, chances are that if you’re reading this, you know those things already.)

Insurance, and all its branches and tranches, took in almost $5 trillion in premium worldwide in 2017. That’s more than any sport franchise, more than the porn industry, more than music, more than the total value of new car sales.

That’s interesting, for a start.

Insurance takes on the worst risks people face and effectively neutralizes them so that we may go about our lives with a degree of ease. We face the awful things — into every life, a little rain must fall — and need not be financially wiped out in the process.

That’s more than interesting: It’s sensational.

Insurance people are interesting because (a) they are people; (b) they continuously discover new and innovative ways of helping us face risks; and (c) their decisions affect all our lives.

I grant that insurance people are not widely considered as interesting as Kim Kardashian’s sitting-down quarters, but let’s be reasonable. Insurance people are a community, local and extended. Finding out what others in our community are doing is of the keenest interest.

The easiest argument to make is that insurance serves a vital purpose. If you don’t know how vital, maybe you should be working in another field.

In the 1936 film Lloyd’s of London, Sir Guy Standing says: “You know, Lloyd’s isn’t merely a business of profit and loss, it’s the lifeblood of British commerce.” Extend that metaphor to insurance in general and to the rest of the world, and there you have it.

Insurance is the bedrock on which the whole crazy ball of wax is built. Without insurance, there’d be no burgers or trains, golf, space rockets or Connecticut. Banks wouldn’t lend. Builders wouldn’t build. Progress wouldn’t be possible.

Without insurance, we’d be living in mud huts in fields, staring into the mid-distance. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for many of us, it wouldn’t be enough. We want lives. Without insurance (not just life insurance), we’d spend weekends cowering in our huts.

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Terrible, terrible things happen to people like us all the time. Insurance can’t take away the pain, but it can provide comfort when we’re at our most vulnerable.

Insurance reduces uncertainty. It spreads the risks we all face. It encourages savings. It facilitates trade. It offers peace of mind, keeps families and businesses on a stable footing and enables invention.

Insurance is a fascinating study; its practitioners intriguing; and it is more vital than all the other businesses in existence. QED. &

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]