October 24, 2015

Horse 2014 - An Angry Man Writes A Shouty Thing At A Group Of Companies Who Want To Sell Him Something He Already Has

Dear Insurance Companies,
Let's be honest about this. Insurance is a hedge against a bad thing from happening. That bad thing might be repairing a car and or people, as in motor insurance; it might be replacing people's stuff after an unsavoury individual has decided to take things, as in home and contents insurance; or it might be the significant and unexpected financial loss caused by someone's advice or designs, as per professional indemnity insurance.
As a consumer, I bet that the payout caused by the thing happening will be worth more than the damage caused or enough to cover said damage. As a seller of insurance, you have actuary staff (actuary? No, reary!) whose job it is to calculate the chances of a thing happening so that you can run the numbers and either turn a profit if the thing never happens or turn a profit by paying out less than we've paid you.
In terms of benefits paid out versus premiums collected by you, the game is rigged in your favour and those numbers can be expressed as a percentage of risk. The other area where you see payouts, risk and chance is in the casino and it is no small coincidence that often the best professional poker players in the world, often come from the world of insurance brokerage and arbitration. Insurance is glorified gambling and we both know it.

Why then, if I know this and you know this, are the selling staff whom you don't even employ directly to hawk your services, not allowed to admit this?
Once upon a time and oh so very long ago; before there was even SBS2, ABC Grandstand Digital, before Twitter, Facebook, before there was even MySpace, I worked in a call centre for a time. It was rubbish.
Call centres are staffed by people who would prefer to have a meaningful job, barked at by supervisors who are more concerned about sales targets and quotas on one side and by the general public who would prefer to be left alone on the other. This same general public also finds that if they want to call someone for help, the people in those call centres haven't been adequately trained and don't know enough or are so chronically overworked that they break down and either quit, or cry and quit. Call centres have one of the highest rates of turnover of staff because of this and yet thanks to the global nature of business, in a worldwide race to the bottom in terms of wages and conditions, it's always possible to find someone willing to accept even more rubbish pay, conditions and training than someone else.
You dear insurance companies, combine the worst of both worlds and employ staff through a third party (because you're too worried about profits to pay people adequately and provide proper benefits and training in the first place), to sell a product to the general public who if they had proper planning in place already have and if they don't, it's because they can't really afford it, which is based on a giant gamble where the game is rigged in your favour anyway.
It is the worst of the worst combined with the lowest of the low.

I being prudent (and because I have certain responsibilities) have already thought about and made plans with regards insurance. I already have Total & Permanent Disability Insurance, Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance among other things. I don't have funeral insurance because quite frankly I think that every single version of funeral insurance that I've seen is one giant rort which is so far skewed in favour of the insurance companies and so no amount of pleading on your part is going to make me buy it.

This is the problem that I currently have with insurance companies. All of the major and established insurance companies compete on price and reputation. Insurance companies like Allianz, GIO, the NRMA, AAMI, heck even banks which have moved into the realm of insurance like Suncorp, don't need to phone people up constantly to try and attract business. Since most people like to tie up all their insurances with the same company, these companies offer discounts and benefits for talking out multiple policies with them.
I completely understand that a new insurance company who wants to move into the marketplace and establish market share wants to put their name out there but aggressive telemarketing campaigns, like the sort that I've have to suffer from Real Insurance and Insurance Line, have the effect of making me remember these companies' names and then never ever ever buy anything from them on principle. Tick people off and you poison a relationship before it even begins.

I like a lot of people form curious cases of brand loyalty and emnity with various firms.
To this day I have never ever bought anything made by the Sharp corporation, simply because they were the one time sponsor of Manchester United Football Club. After 2017, I'm never again going to buy a GM motor car because even after Holden was the only brand in the whole group in the world that turned a profit during the global financial crisis, they're still shutting down Australian production. Even though my bum never fits properly into a pair of Levi's jeans, I'm never going to buy another pair of Lee jeans because "the brand that fits" fell to bits on me within six months.
On the flip side, my heart still beats for a Blue Oval staring back at me from the centre of a steering wheel (even after Ford is also going to shut down Australian production in 2016), when my Seiko watch eventually dies I want to replace it with another one and even though Doc Marten's boots aren't made in the UK any more and even though they have impractical aspects about them, I still always want more pairs.

Personal anecdote is not substitute for a proper data set and should never be taken as the authoritative answer to anything but my rational irrationability is not atypical. If you annoy a sufficient number of people, then no matter how good your product is, you're never going to sell it.
The thing with insurance is that it is a very fungible service. When someone drives their car into yours, or a theif comes into your house and nicks your stuff, or Johnny Darkness comes along and places pennies on your eyes and your loved ones have to clean up and dispose of your mortal chattel and the corpse that you used to inhabit, then it really doesn't matter which insurance company you have chosen. The difference between insurance companies in the eyes of the consumer is entirely based upon price and terms; but mainly on price. Humans are a semi irrational race made of meat bags and thought muscles and if you annoy them, they tend not to be happy. If you are an insurance company, you'd best remember this because as a member of the human race, I'm also an irrational being made of meat bags and thought muscles and I will repay your annoyance with my economic emnity. If you do that to sufficient numbers of people, you will not survive.

So don't ring me; if you do, you're instantly on my list of companies that I won't do business with.

Yours sincerely,

PS: Make something well and even though it might not be the best and I will buy more of that thing more from you. The Samsung phone that I have is quite frankly rubbish and it doesn't do half the things that most other people's phones do and the screen doesn't work properly most of the time but it will not die. It is a fighter and it fights on and on. Likewise, my insurances are mostly with the NRMA; not because they're the cheapest but because they are sufficiently good enough for me not to change. If you are on a good thing, stick with it.

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