Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New book on risk management a must read

Because I believe in insurance and risk management education, I'm posting a review from claims writer and pundit Kevin Quinley's website praising a new book by insurance professional Rick Vassar.

"Olly olly oxen free! Come out, come out, wherever you are!"

Reviewed by Kevin Quinley

Hide! Here Comes the Insurance Guy

by Rick Vassar, iUniverse, 2006, 196 pp., $17.95

Somebody once said that a New York accent was the most effective form of birth control known to man. Others might nominate as an effective contraceptive any tendency to talk about insurance… or risk management, for that matter.

Author, risk manager and consultant Rick Vassar has penned an illuminating primer on insurance and risk management in his book, "Hide! Here Comes the Insurance Guy." The title is a take-off on the notion that, for most people, meeting with an insurance person or discussing coverage is as much fun as a root canal or proctological exam. The author – a CPCU and an ARM -- lives a dual existence. By day, he is a mild-mannered risk manager for a company in the Washington D.C. area. In his spare time, he writes and consults on risk management topics (check out vassargroup). Vassar tries (successfully) to cushion the blow and counter the stereotype by presenting insurance and risk management principles in a straightforward way that can profit any business professional.

Part of his theme is that most companies have risks that are overseen by someone whose title is not "Risk Manager." Most companies do not have risk managers; you need to have a pretty big insurance budget to justify that as a full-time position. No company vies to be paying so much in insurance premium that they spotlight the problem by having a full-time individual to tend to it. Nevertheless, all companies have risks and need to manage it. For these risk managers without title or formal portfolio, Vassar's book – perhaps the best risk management book of the year even without that phrase in the title -- is an indispensable primer and guide. Reading and heeding his advice will save businesses much money, frustration and Excedrin-consumption.
Vassar divides his book into three main sections. Part I discusses business strategies to even the playing field between policyholders and insurance companies. Part II walks through the major basic forms of insurance coverage for most any business. Part III rounds out with a useful; glossary and index.

Vassar's target audience is likely not the Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 risk pro who attends the annual RIMS Conference. There is no highfalutin discussion of enterprise risk management or views from 50,000 feet above ground level. If you are seeking information on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance or the risk management implications of global warming, look elsewhere. The storefront risk manager, though, will find a wellspring of effective tips and tricks between these covers.

Vassar's focus is practical and hands-on, leavened with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Did I say "humor"? Yes, though few comedy clubs are likely to feature an Open Mike night for insurance reps, Vassar takes the human antipathy toward insurance and turns it into a source of mirth and amusement. (Some end-of-chapter checklists would have been a nice addition to the text, but this is a minor quibble.)

So run -- but don't hide - and get your copy of "Hide! Here Comes the Insurance Guy." Get out from under the desk. Leave the closet and face your fears. Insurance and risk management may not be fun (though they are occasionally funny), but Rick Vassar has come as close to anyone in blending sharp wit with moneysaving risk management insights.