Things I Like To Say

As I’ve been publishing them I’ve been thinking more generally about these little phrases that I occasionally parrot at people (I do actually like to say these things) and the ones I like best are the ones that are a little bit wrong. They’re all a bit right, too, but the more wrong they are at the same time the bettter because it makes you think.

People like pointing out how others are wrong and if being wrong is the price to pay for getting people to think critically about the question, so be it! Focus is the precious thing and the meta story here is that I believe these topics aren’t thought about hard enough.

*There is no such thing as innovation in insurance*

There is only innovation in risk management. As an industry we keep rediscovering the idea of bundling or unbundling risk in transactions and call it innovation. It doesn’t change the pie, though, so I’m not calling it innovation. Innovation is changing the risk itself.

*Underwriting is stopping your client from screwing you. Risk management is stopping God from screwing you*

Insurance is obsessed with information asymmetry and moral hazard. When you’re responsible for the costs of your behavior, you’re probably much more careful than if someone else is paying the bill. That’s the client screwing the risk taker and that insight underlies about 95% of the complexity in insurance. The rest of the risk is from acts of God and chance.

*Good Writing is Invisible*

The bad writer’s idea of a good writer is someone that impresses you with their writing, not necessarily with what is being said. ‘Big’ words, complex metaphors. You should write at a high “reading level”, thinly veiling criticism of simple language.

Writing is about communication. If there’s an idea or story that you’re trying to get out, the greatest sin is confusing your reader. Be clear.

On complicated topics, really great writing makes the reader feel smart, not the writer.

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