“Can You Insure Him?”


I have no idea how I went from writing up bus tours to selling substandard auto insurance, but I did. I had lasted about six weeks at Trailways. One of my last memories was of eating at the bus depot and watching a cockroach walk calmly across the counter. It was that kind of bus depot.

I worked for an insurance broker who placed difficult to insure clients with what was called substandard auto insurance. When a client went to a regular agent who couldn’t insure him, the agent would call me and I would call around to various companies to see if any would take him. Our typical client was a 23 year old male with five speeding tickets, one DUI and a sports car. It turned out that for a high enough premium I could usually locate a company willing to insure the driver. I might have to call several different companies, starting with the easiest and going down the list until for an astronomical amount of money I could place the client with the likes of “No Driver Too Awful for Us to Take His Money Insurance Company.” Amazingly, I found those terrible drivers often had enough money to buy the insurance. I guess that is why those companies could stay in business.

I definitely encountered the racism prevalent in the insurance industry at the time.(And still present according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports.) One of my calls was to insure a Cadillac for a man with an excellent driving record. I asked the agent why he was seeking a substandard policy for the man. He told me that the man was a Negro janitor, and “what was he doing driving a Cadillac anyway?” So he wouldn’t place him with a standard company.

This job and I were a poor fit for obvious reasons.(see paragraph above) I tended to voice my disgust with this practice and I groaned a lot about the very rich kids who were driving drunk and smashing into other people. Thank goodness another job was in the wings.


5 thoughts on ““Can You Insure Him?”

  1. Oh man, I would have had a few choice words to say as well. Kudos to you for doing the right thing. As to the career changes, I think one thing we could all do better at is to teach kids are that careers are a journey, not a destination. It’s a long and winding path with good moments and bad moments all along the way. I was just re-reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” recently and it’s never been more relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

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