As soon as you start thinking about insurance, the world outside starts to resemble a place of unlimited danger and risk. Every road too narrow and closing speeds too fast, every journey an A to B of disaster avoidance. The books say we should run a spot check on our lights and brakes before every excursion, rather than just give the offside front a kick as we open the driver’s door. And we don’t have to be moving at all for these spectres to arise. The yearly reminder for the house and contents slides without apology into our email in-tray, and the annual hike for the protection of the motor and its occupants punches another hole in our shrinking finances. And we have only considered the private policies so far. One way or another we will inevitably also pay into that great collective fund that covers the policies required for the businesses we visit or whose products we buy.
Consider the cover needed by the companies which employ us. Broadly speaking, they must consider insurance for their assets and their revenue, as well as cover for specific areas of their operations. Depending on the nature of the business they also must engage in policies concerning building and contents, burglary, employee dishonesty, machinery breakdown, deterioration of stock, loss of goods in transit, fees for advice regarding tax audits, business interruption or loss of profits, and a host of other things. For the Horticulture industry, for example, the list of considerations include damage to glasshouses by hail or snow, loss of stock in the event of equipment failure, and injury to employees caused by faulty machinery or the inhalation or ingestion of poisonous compounds. Landscapers use dangerous equipment such as shredders and chainsaws and require indemnity from injury to operators and damage to property both below and above ground.
It is in the nature of insurance generally that new potential fields of activity are emerging continually. One of these is for Cyber risk. The chairman of the U.S House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has said that cyber attacks represent “probably the single largest threat faced by the United States”. Whether you are a government agency responsible for some aspect of state security, a major corporation with a world-wide network of branches and data processing sites, or a concern which is much smaller but still deploys business computers and servers, you need to take heed. The realities of information theft through espionage are reported on regularly. Whole industries are built on supplying software and know-how designed to combat these threats.
Another candidate for the insurance-issue-of-the-month prize is one you may never have guessed—it concerns obesity. The most obvious repercussions of this condition might be the design of seats in the new generation of aircraft or the anticipated impact on the Health Service of large numbers of diabetes sufferers but it is making waves in the insurance industry as well. According to a recent study it was stated that the duration of workers compensation indemnity benefits paid to obese workers is at least five times greater than those paid to claimants who are not obese but filed comparable claims.