Insurance = Actuarial Science of pooling risks. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong.
There are hundreds of millions of people in America, thousands of different kinds of risks, and a few hundred carriers that each have a handful of specialties within a vast, ever-expanding and rapidly changing insurance market. Population shifts, natural disasters, and evolutions in technology regularly force insurance markets to emerge, expand, and contract. When it comes to being the best in any given market, who remains at the “top” of their craft can definitely change over time.
While all-variety of examples involving market fluctuations and company-related responses are searchable, none is more memorable than the late 1980s when national health insurance companies began noticing sustained trends relating to large medical losses in the southwestern United States tied to rattlesnake-related hospital claims. At the outset of the discovery, all that was known was that large sums of money were being spent on medical care for rattlesnake bites. Here was the extent of what they knew:
1. A single rattlesnake bite typically requires multiple days in the hospital, including very expensive initial ER-related charges
2. Anti-venom typically cost upwards of $5K per vial
3. The average rattlesnake bite requires 2-4 vials of anti-venom
4. Disproportionate numbers of claims were being reported in Central Arizona
There were enough clues here for the health insurance underwriters to help co-sponsor a National Institutes of Health research study. The following 250-word abstract was produced from a larger report published by the NIH in 1989:
“Previous authors have classified poisonous snake bites as being legitimate or illegitimate, depending on whether the victim was taking unnecessary risks with a snake before being bitten. We reviewed medical records of 86 consecutive rattlesnake bite victims cared for at a single medical center to determine legitimacy of snake bites. A bite was considered illegitimate if, before being bitten, the victim recognized an encounter with a snake but did not attempt to move away from the snake. A legitimate bite was said to have occurred if a person was bitten before an encounter with a snake was recognized or was bitten while attempting to move away from a snake. The study group was made up of 75 male (87.2%) and 11 female (12.8%) victims. Seventy-four percent were 18 to 50 years old, and 15% had been bitten previously. Only 43.4% of all bites were considered legitimate, and pet (captive) snakes accounted for almost one-third of all illegitimate bites. The ingestion of alcoholic beverages was associated with 56.5% of illegitimate bites versus 16.7% of legitimate bites (P less than .001). While 74.4% of bites were to upper extremities, only 27% of upper extremity bites were legitimate. All bites to the lower extremity were legitimate (P less than .001). Of 14 individuals bitten by pet snakes, all were men and 64.3% were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the bite.” - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The primary group of claimants, males with “illegitimate” bites, between the age of 18-50, who owned pet rattlesnakes, and (for well over half of the incidents) were handling a venomous snake while consuming alcohol. You can imagine how this industry-originating NIH study altered ER intake and claims payments for snake bites.
Most of us can read this story and laugh at its absurdity, but it’s reflective of a deeper and broader truth regarding the depth, breadth, and complexity of the insurance industry. You have a very personal insurance risk profile that is affected by an ever-changing market.
- What is the who/what/where of your home, auto, commercial, and/or life insurance risk profile?
- Is your current carrier the best fit for coverage, cost, and life situation?
- Does your agent work for a single company, or does your agent work to consultatively understand your needs and then work on your behalf to help identify the best market options available?
The only real way to ensure your agent works for you is to work with an objectivity-centric, “Trusted Choice” Independent Insurance Agent. At Rollo Insurance, that is exactly what we do. Our agents take the time to know you, to understand your risk(s), to assess a very dynamic market, and to provide you with tailored choices that fit your individual needs. When your life changes, our agents are equipped to change with you.
Call or email today to discover for yourself why at Rollo Insurance we say – “The difference is real.”