Here’s Some Holiday Flicks You Won’t Want to Miss

By Chris Amrhein, AAI

At this festive time of year, we need to temporarily step aside from our monthly heavy analysis of insurance forms and coverages and enter into the spirit of the season. So pack up the kids, snare a jumbo popcorn and drink and settle back for your choice of these insurance blockbusters, coming soon to a theater near you!

Laird of the Rings. Based upon the four-volume best seller Guide to Inland Marine Underwriting, our story follows the adventures of Rick Laird as he progresses from mere underwriter trainee to full-fledged Vice President of Inland Lines at Habit Insurance Company. It all starts with a single ring – specifically, a diamond solitaire belonging to one Thomasina Bombadill, who, totally unaware of the tragic implications of her current homeowners coverage provisions, loses her precious jewel while spelunking in Mammoth Cave. Although Rick believes he is embarking on a simple recovery operation, his adventure soon leads him into a dark world populated by evil appraisers, from which he can escape only by finding the long-lost Instrumentalities of Transportation and Communication.

Harry Potts and the Producer’s Stone. Harry appears to be a normal child but has always sensed he is somehow different from the relatives he has lived with since the mysterious disappearance of his parents, shortly after his birth. On his 21st birthday he finally learns the jarring truth – he’s the child of insurance agents who were crushed by company contract cancellations following Hurricane Andrew. His relatives, all bankers, resort to humiliation and intimidation to keep Harry from following in his parents’ footsteps, at one point even locking him in a closet stocked with nothing but bread, water and back issues of Bankers Illustrated. But with the help of a friendly underwriter named Hagar, Harry escapes and is soon off to a six-week producer school at HogDarts Insurance Company. There, among other producers, for the first time in his life Harry feels normal. In this tale, his studies of arcane and oft-forgotten policy forms (such as the 1943 New York Standard Fire Policy) and his discovery of the great and noble game of Bonk the Adjuster, soon send Harry on his way to numerous and exciting adventures and sales opportunities.

Independent Jones and the Raiders of the Hard Market. Follow the incredible adventures of Independent Jones as he travels the world seeking valuable sources of coverages in the hardest market ever known to man. To most, he appears to be simply a mild-mannered insurance agent. But those in the industry know another side – Jones has built his reputation by tracking down and placing business with entities that others claim exist only in legend or myth. Whether it’s an obscure reinsurer in Romania that writes pollution liability on an occurrence basis or a domestic regional carrier willing to write windstorm coverage within five miles of the coast, watch in wonder as this unsung hero delivers the goods to stunned yet grateful clients.

Sandy Poppins. You’ll love the story! You’ll leave the theater whistling the tunes! You’ll be calling your broker to buy stock! In short, you’re going to LOVE Sandy Poppins! Considered Merger and Acquisition Studios’ greatest achievement, Sandy Poppins is the rags-to-riches story of a lone traveler who floats in on a westerly wind, clutching only his red umbrella. With a disarming personality and negotiation skills known only to a few, Sandy quickly proves to be more than just the household worker he appears – in reality he rules the roost! You’ll laugh until you cry as all the town realizes the city banks will never be the same.

Stat Wars: Return of the Actuaries. Long ago, in a marketplace far, far away, the insurance universe was governed by a quiet yet powerful group known as Actuaries. Although it was unknown to many in the general population, those in the industry knew the actuary’s word was law. They alone could translate the Law of Large Numbers into practical, everyday rate calculations. Only they, using their mystical arts, understood how to let go their feelings and trust regressive analysis to guide their determinations. Their greeting of, “May the rating bureaus be with you” comforted many afraid of devastating price wars.

But a dark age dawned. Marketing departments with little knowledge of the arcane actuarial arts and even less interest in understanding them either brushed aside the actuaries as mere “bean counters” or ridiculed their assumptions as unrealistic and unacceptable in an era in which growth in market share had become the new religion. Soon it seemed every form of insurance had become an “uncontrolled line,” and coverage was expanded faster than new manuals could be printed. These were the days when harrowing experiments were conducted in “replacement cost coverage,” “unlimited Additional Living Expense” and the most devastating of all, “all risk.”

Soon, however, a horrific series of events overtook the universe. Who has not heard the tales of the Oakland fires, Hurricane Andrew and Northridge? With the onset of the Mold Wars, a cry went out: “Where are the actuaries?” “Only they can save us from ourselves,” cried the marketers, chastened by floods of red underwriting ink. “Only actuarially sound rates can stabilize our revenues and results!” cried the company executives. “Rates not from actuaries, we will not approve!” roared the regulators.

So once again a universe seeking order out of chaos has turned to the mystical actuaries. Will they be able to return peace and realistic pricing to the marketplace? Has the marketers’ power been crushed, or does it merely slumber, to rise again as memories of the last debacles fade? You’ll be glued to your seat as Return of the Actuaries bursts forth from the silver screen. Soon you and all your family will be chanting the Actuaries Prayer: “May the Rates rise up to meet you; may your IBNR ever be in excess of your actual incurred losses; and may your trending render you solvent.”

Cost Away. He is on a simple monthly underwriter trip to visit his required four agencies. He has done the same dozens of times, usually uneventfully; the most dramatic incident he can recall was the time he lost the luncheon receipt and had to get a sworn statement from the agent before the accounting department would reimburse him. But this trip is different. Following a horrendous flat tire, he finds himself stranded in a deserted interstate rest area. Imagine his horror at discovering not only that there is no spare in the rental car trunk, but also that his cell phone battery is dead! As the minutes slowly tick by, his moods shift swiftly: first, total panic; then resignation; and even a brief thought of ending it all. But then, in a development sure to be uplifting and inspirational to any viewer, his indomitable human spirit rises to the surface! And when that highway patrol trooper finally discovers him nearly two pain-wracked yet filled-with-nobility hours later, he has not only survived, but created the single greatest underwriting breakthrough of this millennium – credit scoring!

I can’t wait for the DVDs! Merry Christmas to all!

December 2002 American Agent & Broker