The Ethics of Short Term Car Insurance Sales (or lack thereof)

I was quite an enterprising child, and I think it’s fair to say that I revolutionized the short term insurance business for two, three, and four-wheeled vehicles. If some toddler wanted to protect his investment on his luxury tricycle in case of an unthinkable mid-sidewalk collision, he came to me. If a fourth grader wanted theft protection for his new Schwinn during school hours, he came to me. If an adult wanted a guarantee that I wouldn’t point his car out to kids on tricycles as a target for a limited time “scratch and save” rebate, he went to my parents who then, in turn, went to me. Sure, that third example might sound like extortion, but when you’re an eight-year-old entrepreneur it’s all about learning the business. The ethics come later.

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Today, I’m a short term car insurance salesman and many of the same principles apply. I’ll still help you protect your car against dings and scrapes and I’ll help you replace a vehicle if it’s stolen. Similarly, people still report me to my parents, so I guess not much has changed. I’ll bet you’re curious though as to whether or not I ever learned those ethics I said would follow the lessons in know-how.

It’s a funny thing about car insurance salesman ethics; it’s a lot of gray area. Well, it’s pretty much all gray area, but it’s a really pretty gray. It’s the kind of gray you’d consider painting on the walls in a prison or a fallout shelter with really bad lighting.
The first rule of car insurance ethics is “See no evil, Hear no evil.” We abridged it after we learned that selling short term car insurance could be considered an act of treason in the backwards country of Belgium. We can’t explain it, but it’s written directly into their constitution. Thus, we’re still allowed to speak evil, but we have to plug our ears as we do it, lest we violate the second part of our first rule. How does this rule apply to the customer? Ever tried to report a stolen car or a damaged side panel? Guess what, the car insurance agent is neither deaf nor blind, but they have to pretend they are. It’s the rules.
The second rule is to disavow knowledge of how time works. If your car was damaged in early February of this year, our agents are trained to answer all of your questions as if they’re still in January, and thus your car is still fine. What do you mean time moved forward? We didn’t tell time it could move forward. Did you? If you did, we’re off the hook.

The third and final rule is perhaps the most important: if you say your short term car insurance agent’s name three times at the beginning of the conversation, they have to behave like a normal human being. Please do not abuse rule number three. Let us have fun with rules one and two first.

Copyright 2008