An insurance lesson from Mark Twain

An insurance lesson from Mark Twain | Insurance Business

An insurance lesson from Mark Twain

Mark Twain may be famous for his sharp tongue and witty writing, but few would associate the literary legend with insurance – except, perhaps, the head of a major insurer.

Speaking to Insurance Business, Berkley state manager Kirsty Owens revealed that company founder William Berkley often cites one particular Twain quote as pertinent for insurance.

“One of Bill Berkley’s favourite quotes come from Mark Twain – “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest,” said Owens.

Owens, too, said she agrees the quote can be applied effectively to the world of insurance – from both the perspective of an insurer and an insured.

“For me, what we can take pride in as an insurer, is getting to understand the businesses that we underwrite so that we can provide them the best possible protection within the scope of our capabilities,” she said.

However, Owens also added that it’s difficult for insurers to “do the right thing” or give the best possible service, when businesses don’t ascribe to the same ethos.

“The ideal insured, therefore, is one who is an open book about their business, happy to give and receive information so that we can mutually obtain the best solution,” she said.

While the ideal scenario would be both parties doing the right thing and behaving honestly, Owens said she often sees insureds attempting to skew their risk profile – which impacts an insurer’s ability to underwrite effectively.

“It is difficult to properly underwrite and give adequate cover to a client who is only doing their best to paint a rosy picture to get the cheapest premium, or a client who is disengaged from their insurance program where they only provide minimal information in order to get terms,” she said.