Posts about whoelse

Social insurance, continued

Great discussion going on in the post about social insurance below. Please keep it coming there. This is very helpful in my thinking for my book. Thanks, all.

Social insurance? Naw.

For my book, I’ve been thinking about a few industries that I think are impervious to social, Google-age, web-2.0, VRM goodness; we are bound to hate them.

Take insurance. I can’t see any way that I’m going to see insurance as a social experience. Jeremiah Owyang went looking and came up pretty much empty-handed.

The problem is, of course, that the insurance industry is built around getting us to take a sucker bet. Indeed, it’s a bet we want to lose. Nobody wants to have a legitimate reason to collect collision, fire, flood, health (apart from preventive care), or certainly life insurance. Worse than Vegas, we know that the industry stacks the odds against us; that’s the essence of its business and it is open about that. If we don’t collect, we are losers (we’ve lost our money) — and we we do collect, we’re still losers. The industry has to treat us like liars, only reluctantly giving us back the money we paid in. They make it all overcomplicated so we don’t know just how screwed we’re getting and so we make more safe (for them) bets. But we can’t afford to do without them. Insurance is our hedge.

So can you imagine what insurance 2.0 would look like? I can’t. I can imagine that we use social tools to gang up on the insurance industry, to, for example, create groups to take advantage of their rules or to decipher fine print for each other (but that’s really the antiinsurance). Could I imagine a truly cooperative, social insurance company where we insure each other — microinsurance? Frankly, no. There’s too much mistrust involved, too much suspicion of gaming and fraud; that negates the possibility of a system of social trust. Is there any point in having a MyAllstateIdeas, a la MyStarbucksIdeas, to work collaboratively with insurance companies? No. What am I going to suggest — make less and charge me less? Am I going to invent new products to give them money? (Gee, maybe I should insure my blog.)

No, I think our relationship with an insurance company is necessarily adversarial and one of mutual mistrust.

I come to the same conclusion about the law. Can you imagine the 2.0 lawyer? I can’t. They, too, are adversarial by definition.

So two questions: Could you imagine insurance 2.0?

And what other industries are similarly impervious to the possibility of our collaboration and affection?