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Change and the Great White Way

March 9, 2010

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

During one of my weekly treks to the city, I was thinking about how much Broadway has changed since street lights were added in 1880, giving Broadway its nickname “The Great White Way.” The change over to the Brush arc lamps made the famous street among the first in the nation to be electrically lit. When I plunked down my $150 for my “discount” tickets this weekend I was told that I could no longer have my little paper “safety jacket” to protect the expensive tickets as I padded around the city before the show. I was told that even though there would be no refund for a damaged ticket, Broadway was going “green.” “Save a tree” the ticket vender told me. Since we have an entire industry dedicated to forest management, I was wondering if this was a change that was worthy of the risk to my hard earned ticket.

The show was terrific and well executed with one exception; there was a guy two rows in front of me that insisted on text messaging during the show. Each time he read or composed a text, the bright white light from his phone blinded me in the darkness of the theater. If you are a Broadway regular like I am, this is a very grave sin. Those in my father’s generation were concerned about people chatting and snapping their gum during the show. The thought of someone electronically typing messages would have been unimaginable just ten or fifteen years ago. The times are definitely changing.

Change is all around us. It always has been. Change can be a needed and wonderful thing; however, not all change brings about positive outcomes. As this century enters its second decade, technology is accelerating at a rate that has never been seen before in human history. Some changes in the insurance industry are bringing about wonderful client service enhancements. When I took my first insurance job in 1981, it was as an intern at The Travelers Insurance Company mounting reel to reel computer tapes on seven foot tall tape machines. Today, the amount of memory found on the smallest IPod is greater than an entire row of those huge tape machines!

Unfortunately, technology changes are not the best substitute for sound advice. The industry can be a complicated one, just take a look at the ever growing length of legal ease, endorsements and exclusions in your policy. There are companies that tell you they can compare their rates to others in one exchange. It seems a bit like the fox guarding the hen house to me! Even if those rates prove to be accurate, how about the quality of the product and how well those insuring promises are kept from company to company?

Buying an insurance policy is not as simple as making a hotel reservation. It should be easy, but in a litigious society it isn’t. The number of policies that have been purchased incorrectly stuns me on a daily basis as we work to correct coverage errors and poor company choices.

In the end, change is a good thing. We need to meet our clients’ needs with technology that makes sense and makes their life easier. Let’s face it; insurance is not like a trip to the Great White Way!

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

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