Which industry is responsible for the following?
• Steps in to help put people’s lives back together again following floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fire.
• Provides the means with which businesses can replace ruined property and equipment following a calamitous event.
• Employs approximately 2,500,000 workers in the United States, which is more than six times the membership of the United Auto Workers union and more than 1.5 times the number of U.S. Walmart employees.
This, of course, is the insurance industry. And yet, our industry rarely receives the kind of press in either traditional or social media commensurate with all this good news.
I was reminded of this imbalance when I recently read how more than 40 years after paying out $15,000 to a family from whom a Norman Rockwell painting had been stolen, Chubb returned the newly found work to its owners.
This feel-good story was perfectly pitched for lavish press coverage. If any painter can be said to have captured the heart and soul of America, it is Norman Rockwell. He, more than any other artist, is America’s painter. The fact both his reputation as an artist and the price of his paintings are in ascendancy causes the rescue of the stolen painting to be an even bigger story.
The subject matter of the painting, a sleeping boy with a dog and a hoe on his lap, is also winning. The sentimentality evoked by the painting is pretty much guaranteed to appeal to everyone.
Chubb, for its part, did everything right regarding the rescue. At a ceremony attended by representatives of the FBI and the Norman Rockwell Museum, Chubb returned the painting to the family from whom it had been stolen. Because Chubb had acquired the painting’s title following a $15,000 insurance payout, Chubb could have taken possession of an asset now estimated to be worth $1,000,000. Instead, the company returned the painting to the family after reclaiming the $15,000 payout.
The story just kept getting better as Chubb went on to donate the $15,000 to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.
Conducting a Google search on this story, I came up with the following first-page hits:
I didn’t bother going to the second page.
This feel-good story has all the right ingredients for major media websites, yet it is missing. In addition to all the other storylines previously noted, it could also be offered as a detective story to capture readers’ and viewers’ interest. Where was the painting located during these past 40 years? Who stole it? How was it stolen? How was it found?
Instead, the story sleeps on vertical industry websites. CNBC is as close as it got to the general public, but this isn’t far enough.
We in the insurance industry can all be proud of the role Chubb played in rescuing this painting. We applaud Chubb for not taking one wrong step following the painting’s rescue. If we can find any fault, it is only that a greater effort wasn’t made to share this act of corporate zeal and goodwill with a wider audience.
What lessons can we take from the Case of the Stolen Painting?
I suppose the first lesson is each one of us must be on the lookout for stories with similar appeal. Marketing departments should evaluate all corporate news regarding its promotional value.
We, as an industry, should come together in helping to circulate similar good news. I wonder how many brokers and agents whose policies are underwritten by Chubb included news of Chubb’s corporate good deed in customer e-blasts and newsletters.
While many of us in the industry compete in the marketplace, we share common self-interest. Carriers and brokers can form a task force charged with identifying good industry news and taking action to promulgate it. Thanks to social media and the Internet, there have never been more channels through which to circulate good news.
It has been said bad news travels fast. Good news can at times benefit from a gentle, collective shove. Helping move good news about our industry in the right direction is simply smart business. In an era when attracting new employees to the industry is challenging, stories like this carry optimism and not cynicism. We will be helping to support an industry upon which homeowners, business owners, motor vehicle drivers, nonprofit organizations, public utilities and countless others depend.
Without the insurance industry, all commercial and much personal activity would come to a halt. Let the word go forth.