My job prior to becoming Paste’s business and media editor came in insurance (I freelanced for Paste’s politics section on the side, so they didn’t just pluck me out of nowhere). I worked for a broker, and if you’re unfamiliar with how the basic insurance setup works, it’s simple(ish). In every town, you see a litany of “So and So Insurance” agencies lining the streets. Those agents have access to a small slice of the market, and are able to get you boilerplate policies. However, if you need something more complex or if you just want a better price, you need to talk to a broker—but you yourself cannot access a broker, only those agents can. The value of an agent is very much related to the value of the brokers they know, which is connected to the swath of the market that broker has access to.
The difference between a broker and an agent is that a broker can get policies from a wider array of insurance companies, and thus, better prices and coverages. The agent communicates to the broker what requirements their client needs, and the broker works their magic with underwriters employed by the various companies who write the policies. If your policy came from a broker, I can promise you that the basic framework of many of your policies were negotiated inside of an establishment that serves alcohol (no need to worry though, the actual legalese that defines what is and isn’t covered and for how much, was written by an army of sober accountants, specialists and lawyers, but there’s a good chance that your limits and price were finalized on the back of a bar napkin). The entire industry likes to have fun.
I saw a lot of wild stuff in my eighteen months working in insurance, but nothing like the policies in the infographic below—which was provided to Paste by Unum, a supplemental insurance company based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Take a look:
Jacob Weindling is Paste’s business and media editor, as well as a staff writer for politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.