The negative press surrounding the conviction and incarceration of troubled actress Lindsay Lohan continues to fuel interest among people from all walks of life. From the airport gate area where business men watch closed circuit TV coverage of her sentencing; to the grocery store checkout line where a homemaker, toddlers in tow, stops to read the latest tabloid.
When it comes to negative press, the insurance industry isn’t much different. This week alone the public learned about agents charged with embezzlement, health insurers being criticized for denying claims as they publish record earnings, and life insurers being called out for allegedly raking in profits from death benefit accounts.
Curiously, the same people who love to love Lohan, also love to hate insurers. No doubt, there are similarities between both camps. For example, if you apply the accountability factor to Lohan, it’s a simple fact that her behavior landed her in jail. Similarly, insurers that find themselves in trouble often need to clean house, make restitution, or prove to regulators that their books are clean.
The differences are equally evident: The negative messaging around Lohan’s troubles actually morphs into a positive form of entertainment, as fascinated business men and homemakers tune in to find out what she will do next. The negative messaging around the insurance industry, however, tends to play forward into the usual “necessary evil” discussion.
I think we’d all agree that insurance is necessary. But does it have to be considered by so many as evil?
Douglas Turk, EVP of the insurance broker Aon/Albert G Ruben Insurance Services Inc., offers a resounding “no.”
I told him his answer may be understandable, coming from the largest broker in the entertainment business. Coincidentally, the 50-year old Albert G Ruben firm provides "essential element" cover to producers who have had the pleasure (or displeasure) of hiring stars such as Lohan during movie production.
“Some of the best entertainment would not exist were it not for the backstop that insurance provides,” Turk says. “In Hollywood, all of the films made in the last 20 years could not have been produced but for insurance.” He went on to say that it enables entertainment companies to take calculated risks, and allows them to do things that change the dynamic of the culture and global economy.
Turk offered examples such as the Olympics, the X-games, national political conventions, the work that goes on at Pixar Animation Studios, an American CGI animation film studio, and, of course films such as Avatar or the Toy Story series.
“All those things that intimately affect our world have to be insured,” says Turk, “and 97% of the public doesn’t know the critical role insurance plays.”
If we can’t get Buzz Lightyear to be an insurance industry spokesperson, I understand Lindsay Lohan has some free—I mean open—time on her hands.
Pat Speer is editor-in-cheif of Insurance Networking News.
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