How's Your Insurance?

Copyright 1994 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

This piece got rejected three times by various places before being picked up by the prestigious Rochester Business Magazine (which paid a whopping $50 for it--which is why they must be prestigious!). It appeared in their August 1994 issue.

Apparently, some local Rochester insurance salesman got incensed by it and responded with a letter defending insurance salesmen. I heard about it when the head of the New York Insurance Salespeople called and asked if they could reprint my article in their monthly newsletter, along with the salesman's rebuttal. For $10, I said "Sure!"

The head Insurance Salespeople guy was nice--he said he really enjoyed the article. I seem to have misplaced his name, his organization's name, and the newsletter. Oh well...

Comments? (Note: if you are an insurance salesman, you can forgo the comments, I already got that picture.

When you have your own business, there's a few things you have to get used to. You sign your own paychecks, you make your own coffee, and you are the one everybody points to when somebody asks, "Who's responsible for your Health Insurance?"

Judging by the number of phone calls I get, there are five health insurance salespeople for each actual business. This must be embarrassing to them when they accidentally reach another health insurance company and try to sell them health insurance.

In any case, a couple of times a week I get a phone call from somebody inquiring about our health insurance. If President Clinton wants to get overwhelming support for his health plan from small businesses, he just needs to add a couple of simple little rules to it.

Rule 1: Any small business can be contacted by a health insurance salesperson only once a week.

Rule 2: If contacted more than once a week, the small business owner can push a special button on their phone that sends 10,000 volts through the phone line and back to the insurance salesperson. The small business person is allowed to cackle for a period not to exceed five (5) minutes (fun is fun, but let's not be mean about this).

Aside from installing the special buttons, the government wouldn't do anything else. No monitoring or enforcement. Notice that there is no way for an insurance salesperson to know whether they are the first caller in a month, or the twelfth caller today. This keeps them on their toes and leads to round-about conversations:

"Um, I'm doing a survey, for, um, NBC, yeah, NBC. We're doing an exposť on, um, health insurance scams! Yeah!"

"Are you trying to sell me insurance?"

"No! I mean, has anyone else called this week? For the survey!"

"That depends...answer my question, first. I have my hand on this little button here."

"Um, Never mind!" Click.

But until that happens, small business owners will have to put up with endless phone calls from insurance salespeople. I used to resent these calls, until I discovered a great way to relax and have some fun.

Now when I get a call from a health insurance salesperson, I eagerly set up a meeting, assuring them that our current health insurance policy is so woefully inadequate that several employees have changed religions to increase their coverage.

I try to schedule the meeting for mid-afternoon, so I get a nice break. At first, I'm very professional.

"Ah, Mr. Fingerslinger, pleased to meet you! Always like talking about our insurance needs!"

As I'm talking with Mr. Fingerslinger, however, I seem to have developed this wracking cough.

"Well, Tom," I'm now on a first-name basis with good ol' Fingerslinger, "my health, lately, has been better than it's been in a long time." Followed by a minute or two of coughing. This gives Tom a bit of a pause.

"Um, that's good, that your health is so good, I mean. Um, how many employees does your company have?"

"Ten," I answer at once.

"Ten?" Tom looks around, as I am clearly the only person here. Furthermore, there's only room for three people (total) to work.

"Well, some of them aren't feeling too well, today." I look a little sad as I say this.

"Oh yeah?" Tom is beginning to look a little uncomfortable.

"But as soon as Mary recovers from her hepatitis, I'm sure she'll be in the pink of health."


"And Frank has really bounced back from that last bout of tuberculosis, and the penicillin has really made a difference with his syphilis."

"Oh yeah?"

Tom is getting whiter and whiter, because even he can figure out that if I have ten employees and all of them are sick, then I'm not exactly raking in the dough. Which means there's no way I can afford the $10 zillion monthly premium for these folks.

He starts hurriedly packing up his quote forms and heading for the door.

"But Tom," I holler as he opens the door to leave, "I haven't told you about their families, yet!"

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Copyright 1993 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.