When I'm not blogging, I actually run a research + consulting enterprise. One time some years ago we bid on -- and landed -- a contract for a large municipality. They required us to have insurance. And so it began.
Somewhere in the distant past, insurance had its origins as a way of pooling risk. Everyone pays a little, and then if your ship sinks or your house burns down, you have that major loss covered. Absolutely brilliant idea.
I like to imagine that these early contracts were pretty straightforward. Then some fool or crook set fire to their own house, and the first exclusion clause was created.
You can see how these things work, really. First, a few simple exclusions. Then some contracts are disputed in court, so the language becomes more precise. Then other things happen and more exclusions are needed.
After a few hundred years of this dance, we now have insurance agreements no-one can understand. My commercial policy has a printout of dozens of pages, and this is the short form! Even the summary document is mystifying.
It might as well be Latin We pretty much have to take it on faith that there's something there for us if disaster strikes. And it's not just insurance contracts. I feel the same way when I click the "Agree" button with every application or online service. Not to forget the waiver you sign whenever you go skiing or rent a canoe. Then there are the multi-page confidentiality agreements that large clients insist we sign.
Like parishioners before the reformation, we know there's some important message in the service, but we never learned to speak Latin.
And it's just as well. Because when you do know what it means, it can scare the heck out of you. I've seen a few of these that are pretty onerous. I told one client something like this: "If you don't like what I do, you don't have to pay me. But you can't take my house." Thank goodness they agreed to remove the offending clause, because we wanted the work.
There's an opportunity hereThis year, another massive policy increase has us shopping around.
All of the forms and questionnaires seem to have been created for people that drive dozers around, build bridges, and otherwise do concrete STUFF. When you work in the airy-fairy world of ideas, which is pretty much our stock-in-trade, it's hard to connect.
I think there is a huge opportunity here for some innovative organization to clean up in this industry. Hire us, and we'll help you figure it out. And I'll be first in line to sign up for the policy.