Confessions of an Insurance Broker
I first started working
in the Insurance Industry back in 1984 and as a very young man it was
all about the selling of policies, getting noticed by my boss and
getting up the ladder.
What the product actually did for people was not much of a concern for me until the day that made me understand that insurance is so much more than the exchange of cash and a signature on the bottom of a proposal form. We don’t even have proposal forms 37 years later.
It was a Saturday
afternoon and I had been left on my own as weekends were never busy.
I went to make myself a cup of coffee and as I was returning to the
front desk I noticed there was a smell in the air, a smell of smoke
and burned hair.
When I got to the front desk there was a family of
four waiting for me. Mum and Dad and two kids between eight and ten.
All looked rather distressed and quite frankly singed at the edges,
they were obviously not in the office to get a quote for Dad’s Ford
Cortina. I looked at them, they looked back at me.
managed to say, “How can I help you”. Dad responded with, “Our
house just burned down”! Honestly this is a true story, I had been
selling motor insurance, home contents and buildings insurance for
the best part of a year. I had dealt with small motor insurance
claims by phone but had never dealt with something of such monumental
size, and here I was on my own with these people wanting me to help
We did not have computers back then so I asked Dad for his name
and went and got the file. It always starts with a file even in this
digital age. As I looked at the file, took note of the insurer that
covered their buildings and contents insurance, I also looked at
them. I put the file down, moved them to a back office, sat them down
and asked if anyone wanted a tea or coffee, a coke or frankly
anything! It was dawning on me that these people had just lost
everything and that I had no experience on what could be done to
assist them in this moment of extreme need.
Once I had the family
settled, drinks, sandwiches and sweets from the shop down stairs, I
closed the office, locked the front door and went to my desk to get
on the phone. The Insurer, sadly no longer with us, was the General
I phoned the broker support unit for home insurance claims
and without any delay was talking with someone that had obviously
been in this situation before. “Firstly get them doing something”,
the woman at the other end of the phone said. “Give them a pen and
paper each and tell them to list everything they have lost from every
pair of socks upwards”. “Go do that whilst I start sorting things
out from here”, she said. I did as requested and by the time I got
back to the phone this amazing woman from the General Accident had
already got everything under control.
It was the most levelling
experience that young man, me, had ever witnessed. From seeing
insurance as something to sell I suddenly got the first-hand
experience of what it does in an emergency.
Within twenty minutes of my returning to the phone a hotel for short term occupancy had been arranged. A driver had been booked and was on his way regardless of if Dad had a car or not and within an hour and a half from them entering my office Dad, Mum and the kids were thanking me as they departed.
these years later I have never forgotten the Jenkins claim, how
devastating it was for them and how it educated me that insurance is
all about people, especially when the sh#t happens, as often it does.
That was back in Hertfordshire when I was not much more than a boy.
Seen a lot of sh#t since then and in the main the outcome supports
why I stuck with this industry.
Now here I am in Spain, still selling Insurance but sadly no longer a boy. One thing's for sure, be it motor, home, life or health insurance I am selling something I have believed in for more than three decades.