I was standing about, as writers will, surveying the scene in a suburb somewhere, when an ugly man drove by in an SUV. He wasn't wearing a shirt, and he had tattoos. Now that is something a person does not want to see, at any price. So listen up: Ugly Tattooed Man (UTM) could be the next D&O. Side A: no shirt. Side B: display of repairman butt crack.
OK, so maybe you are yourself an ugly tattooed man, and are asking: why should I read this? Here's why. The fat cat with the tat was blaring "Sweet Home Alabama" out of his inboard stereo system. (Under UTM excess coverage, this would be referred to, as would the man himself in the rural South, as the "Ronnie Van Zant rider.")
As this bozo drove past, two goons with lawn mowers were hard at work nearby. Mowers are as noisy as jet aircraft. So, there I was, minding my own business, when a chubby dimwit and lawn mowers shattered my peace of mind. Insurable event? It should be.
Terms would be defined by the insured. For me, noisy rednecks would constitute an event. For noisy rednecks, having to read this might constitute an event. I would not be covered in Tennessee, and they would not be covered in bookshops. (I know, noisy rednecks don't buy insurance or books, but that's not the point.)
The people who invented the lawn mower and the jet engine gave no thought to how much noise their inventions make. The lawn mowers probably have adjustable blades, and fuel efficiency monitors, and leather handlebars, but they don't have silencers. Nor did Tattooman's stereo. And nor does a leaf blower (the least useful gadget in history), the coffee grinder or any other damn fool product we don't need.
The inventors all said: "Let us put our enormous brainpower into solving the problem of how to (e.g.) cut grass using absurd quantities of sparse energy resources, and let us make the machine as technically efficient as humanly possible, so that it doesn't break down irreparably until one nanosecond after the warranty expires." It didn't cross their giant minds to say: "Let's make quiet machines people can live with." Each of these Devil's devices costs the innocent bystander, in peace of mind, in disturbed trains of thought and in the raging hatred invoked for whoever invented them.
I have suffered a loss, and would have paid a premium to be able to collect on the loss, to make good my damage. We're not here for long, and in my case even less time, because I run risks you don't--such as being murdered by whomever invented the lawn mower. Of my pitiful remaining days, this one has been all but buggered by a lack of consideration from the guy who invented the lawn mower and the global insurance industry, which obviously doesn't offer products people want.
So here it is, insurers: wake up and listen to the roses being decapitated. Get round here with a checkbook every time some adipose swine with a tattoo on his chest comes by and fouls up my day. Send the bill to my editor. And then thank me, because you'll make millions, and can take all the credit for my brilliant idea.
I'd love to write more, but now I have to go out and kill some people. Next time, I'll write about how prisoners at Alcatraz can't get insurance either.
a writer, editor and former accountant, is a regular columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He also covers issues on alternative risk for this magazine.
October 15, 2005
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