“Someone’s always watching. Do things right and don’t give anyone reason to doubt your honor.” This and other movie takeaways can help you advance your career and enhance customer experience
AT THE MOVIES
Five takeaways from scenes featuring insurance
We should all do whatever we can to deliver the best possible service and support to the clients who are reliant upon us for our expertise.
By Michael Wayne
We’ve reached an annual waypoint—the time right after the Super Bowl and the Oscars. Super Bowl commercials often feature well-known actors and even parody well-known movies. That was indeed the case this year. There was even a connection to the insurance industry in the Jeep Groundhog Day spot that featured Bill Murray and Stephen Tobolowsky as unshakable life insurance agent Ned Ryerson.
There have been many movies that put insurance in the spotlight. Here are five of my favorite scenes that also provide a lesson.
DEATH OF A SALESMAN
Willy Loman: His name was Dave Singleman. And he was 84 years old, and he’d drummed merchandise in 31 states. And old Dave, he’d go up to his room, y’understand, put on his green velvet slippers—I’ll never forget—and pick up the phone and call the buyers, without ever leaving his room, at the age of 84, he made his living. And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career that a man could want. Because what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of 84, into 20 or 30 different cities, and pick up his phone and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? You know, when—when he died, by the way he died the death of a salesman, in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of the New York, New Haven and Hartford, going into Boston—when he died, hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral. Things were sad on a lotta trains—for months after that. You see, in those days there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect and comradeship and gratitude in it. Today, it’s all cut and dried, and there’s no chance for bringing friendship to bear or personality. You see what I mean? They don’t know me anymore.
The Takeaway—In the context of the story, Willy does not have the capacity to adapt. He relies on what has always worked instead of reinventing himself. Ultimately, he is seen as a liability and is fired. We must take the client into consideration and evolve according to their needs.
Bob Parr: (whispering and handing Mrs. Hogenson a pen and pad) Listen closely. I’d like to help you but I can’t. I’d like to tell you to take a copy of your policy to Norma Wilcox on … Norma Wilcox, W-I-L-C-O-X … on the third floor, but I can’t. I also do not advise you to fill out and file a WS2475 form with our legal department on the second floor. I would not expect someone to get back to you quickly to resolve the matter. I’d like to help, but there’s nothing I can do.
The Takeaway—Forced to give up the life of a superhero, Bob still manages to find ways to “save” people. We should all do whatever we can to deliver the best possible service and support to the clients who are reliant upon us for our expertise.
Ram: I was an actuarial program. Worked for a big insurance company. It really gives you a great feeling helping folks plan for their future needs. Of course, if you take the payments as an annuity over the years, the cost is really quite minimal.
The Takeaway—In talking to Kevin Flynn about his former life, Ram still recalls the emotional lift he got from helping clients. We should all hold onto the fact that we are indeed helping others in our roles.
Barton Keyes: Every month, hundreds of claims come to this desk. Some of them are phonies, and I know which ones. How do I know? Because my little man tells me.
Sam Gorlopis: What “little man”?
Barton: (Touching his midsection) The little man in here. Every time one of these phonies comes along, it ties knots in my stomach; I can’t eat! Yours is one of them, Gorlopis—that’s how I knew your claim was crooked. So, what did I do? I send a tow car over to your garage this afternoon. And they jacked up that burned out truck of yours, and what did they find? They found what was left of a neat pile of shavings.
Sam: What shavings?
Barton: The ones you soaked with kerosene and dropped the match on!
The Takeaway—Always do your job thoroughly. You have a responsibility to all of your clients. That means ensuring fraud doesn’t cause costs to rise for everyone.
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
Thomas Crown: Who do you work for?
Catherine Banning: I’m in the art world.
Thomas: Gallery owner?
Catherine: No, it’s closer to insurance.
Thomas: I’m covered.
Catherine: Not for this. The painting? The Monet? You don’t think they’d simply cut a check for a hundred million dollars … do you?
Thomas: So you …
Catherine: Get them things. When it’s this much money involved, it usually means I get them someone’s head.
Thomas: And whose head are you after?
Catherine: Yours. Good evening, Mr. Crown.
The Takeaway—Ultimately, someone is always watching what we do. Make sure you are doing things the right way and that you don’t give anyone reason to doubt that you are honorable. Your book will only be as valuable as your name.
Michael Wayne is a freelance insurance writer.