January 29, 2013

When insurance people are fictionalised on screen, you’ll generally see a maverick employee defy his cynical bosses to pay the technically questionable claim of some deserving but impoverished person (usually an old lady).

In real life, of course, this could never happen. Not because anyone who would let sentiment cloud their judgement in such an unprofessional way could never work in claims. No, on the contrary, because such an opportunity could never arise – for the simple reason that insurers like nothing better than paying claims.

No sooner have they clapped eyes on anything with claim written on it, in fact, than they’ve almost certainly paid it post-haste, quibble-free, usually with a bunch of flowers thrown in.

Everyone in insurance knows this and hence struggles to take seriously the likes of Kevin “Broker’s Man” Whately (aka Lewis, the world’s least plausible male romantic lead) as they stumble through one grossly unfair portrayal of insurers after another.

Everyone, it seems, except BIBA. Every six months, regular as clockwork, someone from the brokers’ trade association pops up spouting some trumped up nonsense about how insurers are less than keen on paying claims. The latest outbreak of this foolishness saw BIBA bigwig Eric Gallbreath claim outrageously that two thirds of his members were having to ‘fight harder’ to get their clients’ claims paid.

This provoked the usual angry denials from people like the ABI and Uvavu bandying phrases like “I utterly refute these allegations” (meaning “utterly reject”).

But why all this unseemly wrangling – when surely brokers depend on insurers for their livings?

It’s all an act, of course, with no more intent about it than the ritualised pantomime contests of the WWF. It’s a chance for the likes of Gallbreath to pose as bellicose champions of their clients’ interests. Like so many aspects of insurance, it’s really just a bit of fun.


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