I’ve been reading Jay Feinman’s excellent book, Delay Deny Defend:  Why Insurance Companies Don’t Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It. The book deals with the games insurance companies play in claims handling, especially in the personal lines arena.  At one point, Feinman quotes from a great movie I haven’t seen in a long time, the 1944 film Double Indemnity starring Fred MacMurray (later the father figure in My Three Sons) and Edward G. Robinson (“Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?”).  Robinson’s character, insurance man Barton Keyes, describes the work of a claims adjuster as follows: 

“The job I’m talking about takes brains and integrity.  It takes more guts than there is in 50 salesmen.  It’s the hottest job in the business…To me, a claims man is a surgeon, that desk is an operating table, and those pencils are scalpels and bone chisels, and those papers are not just forms and statistics and claims for compensation.  They’re alive, they’re packed with twisted hopes and crooked dreams…A claims man is a doctor, and a bloodhound, and a cop, and a judge, and a jury, and a father, and a confessor all in one.”

How funny.  (I bet a lot of you can think of some other names for claims people.)