Tune In the Insurance Channel!

By Chris Amrhein, AAI

Welcome, cable customers and satellite dish owners everywhere, to the newest addition to your channel buffet – The Insurance Channel! Devoted exclusively to the critical, yet often wild and wacky world of insurance, we think we have developed a line-up of shows that will illuminate, elucidate and entertain the whole family. Here are just a few of those jewels glittering on our new schedule:

That Seventies Show. Acknowledged by all as one of the last great decades of traditional insurance coverage acronyms, we’ll take a nostalgic look back at such now long-gone coverage form staples as the BAP, FAP, SMP and the CGL (when the “C” still stood for “comprehensive”). In next weeks episode, we’ll ask the burning question: Should John Travolta’s paint delivery boy in Saturday Night Fever have been covered under an M&C or O,L&T?

The VU. Every day, Virtual University Director Bill Wilson and three of his faculty will share an hour and a cup of coffee with you while kvetching the latest coverage questions arriving in their email. You’ll shed a tear or let go a laugh as these coverage wonks reveal both their intimate insurance knowledge and lack of having a real life.

In Search Of…How often has some foundational aspect of your coverage toolkit suddenly just disappeared? One day you are recommending it to every client you have, the next it seems to have been purged from the manuals, and any underwriter with less than six months in the business claims to have never heard of it? Brought to you live from Easter Island, your host will seek to explore that mysterious “Bermuda Triangle” of the insurance industry into which have flown and apparently never returned such former standards as elevator liability, rolling stores and discontinued operations. Next week: What REALLY happened to the Broad From CGL?

Behind the Forms. You’ve seen it before, you know the story. A great new coverage form appears out of nowhere, takes the industry by storm, is hailed as the next great solution to our problems. And then, inevitably, the long, slow slide into decadence and oblivion. If lucky enough to survive, and the fates are kind, eventually possible redemption and a new lease on life, albeit as an older and wiser coverage option.

This week: The Claims-Made liability form. From it’s early roots in a circular memo routed by ISO to the state regulators and insurance carriers, it was soon being heralded as THE liability coverage form of the future. Conferences were held where the intricacies and true splendor of this innovation in liability were detailed to literally thousands of faithful attendees from every nook and cranny of the industry. Then, the crash. First a hard market and liability crisis turned many suspicious that the formerly glorious solution was perhaps a wolf in sheep’s clothing, dreamed up by crafty underwriters to take away vast amounts of current coverage from unsuspecting insureds. The retroactive dates and extended reporting periods once viewed as creative solutions to exponentially expanding liability theories such as “triple-trigger” and “latent injury” suddenly stood accused of being the height of deviousness spawned by colluding carriers and satanic London markets. Long before anyone had even heard of Microsoft, the state attorneys general filed suit against ISO, the carriers and, at one point, Major League Baseball, as they attempted to unearth what they claimed to be a conspiracy to commit liability coverage fraud on a massive scale. Soon, our once smiling and popular ISO claims-made form, that at its height had literally forced the total rewrite of entire insurance texts, found itself relegated to the backwaters of the industry, seldom to appear again in its original incarnation. Even today, echoes of its features found in various specialty markets and professional forms testify to the genius of the original ISO craftsmanship, but the glory days are long past. BERP and SERP, we hardly knew ye.

The “Why” Files. Studies and articles abound indicating huge numbers of claim denials are often overturned by courts or reversed when appealed to higher ups at the carrier or adjusting firm. One health carrier admitted over 60% of its original denials were later paid. What is going on? Might it be the effect of hallucinogenics surreptitiously slipped into an unsuspecting adjuster’s morning coffee? (One adjuster was caught on hidden camera, passed out over a large stack of claim denials, while AC/DCs “Hells Bells” played on an endless loop in the background. Coincidence? You decide.) Could there really be a vast conspiracy on the part of insurance carriers to create artificially that theoretical Holy Grail of the industry – zero claims? Might it all be attributable to simple gross stupidity? Follow two of The Insurance Channel’s top investigative reporters as they plunge week after week into the dark world of claims adjusting to unravel the facts. And trust us, what they find just might scare the wits out of you. Join us for our next episode: Water IS a Chemical, or How the Pollution Exclusion Saved Our Loss Ratios.

Star Trek Underwriter. Boldly go where no insurance person has gone before – the future! In the grand tradition of the classic television series, which was able to delve into the controversial issues of its day (racism, Vietnam) with impunity simply by setting them thousands of years in the future, our ongoing mission will be to utilize a thorough coverage analysis of each episode (one per week) as a forum to debate burning insurance issues of OUR time.

Future episodes include:

  • The Enterprise – Mobile Equipment? Since there is no air in space, clearly the Enterprise is not an aircraft. Ditto for lack of water, so its not a watercraft (despite the numerous references to the “ship”). So how DO you classify it?
  • Scrambled by the Transporter. Once again an unsuspecting crewmember has his or her ions scattered about space until Mr. Spock and Scotty rewire the needed circuits. Is this properly treated by Work comp? Jones Act? Products liability? Loading or unloading?
  • Kirk Woos the Women – Does the mere presence of Kirk make every planet a “hostile work environment” for women? Are aliens by definition a “protected class”? Since he did this nearly every episode, at what point should his behavior be considered an existing exposure requiring an exclusionary endorsement or revised retroactive date? What does the Montrose decision teach us?
  • McCoy – Doctor or Disaster? Is a good old boy from the South turned loose in a high tech lab with all the latest tools a good underwriting risk? Is diagnosing radiation sickness with a glowing salt shaker covered under typical Medical malpractice? And exactly what provision of the Good Samaritan laws would protect him if shoveling cement into the side of a silicone creature turned out to be a huge mistake rather than a clever success?

Insurance: The Music. Everyone in this business knows how critical to everyday sanity and survival is the music which keeps us going. Who hasn’t hummed such classic insurance lyrics as Jimmy Buffet’s “If we weren’t all crazy, we’d all go insane” on the way to a claims interview. Or, when studying the “invitee versus trespasser” provisions of premises liability hasn’t immediately thought of Steppenwolf’s immortal Don’t Step On The Grass, Sam. And what insured, once moved to a claims-made liability form and then later trying to move back to an occurrence form, couldn’t relate to the Eagle’s lyric from Hotel California “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

On our weekly show, we will showcase the bands who have written, as Stevie Wonder might say, our “songs in the key of life.” First up? Pink Floyd, the group with an incredible string of insurance hits, including Comfortably Numb, Momentary Lapse of Reason, Another Brick in the Wall and, of course, Money. In future weeks we’ll spotlight such classics as Sammy Hagar’s ode to auto insurance I Can’t Drive 55, Pearl Jam’s insights into public school liability and workers compensation issues in Jeremy, as well as the watercraft coverage issues raised by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in Wooden Ships and Southern Cross.

These are but a few of the incredible new line-up of shows awaiting you on The Insurance Channel! And we’ve only just begun! Tune in, turn on, live and learn! (PLEASE NOTE: CE credit not available in all states.)

If in insurance you be, turn to T-I-C!

December 2000 American Agent & Broker