Backchat had a whale of a time at the Chartered Insurance Insitute (CII). Here's a round-up of his conference diaries:
Michael Bright told a story at the CII conference about when he worked in Leeds and used to pick up interviewees from York Station, as the approach to Leeds by train was dire and likely to put people off. The approach by car, on the other hand, from York took people through the better suburbs. “I've always been a conman,” Bright said.
Robin Wood's joke about honesty and integrity codes at the General Insurance Standards Council and how to interpret these rules, was a cracker.
Two guys set up a household insurance broker and decide to register with GISC. While one partner visits the GISC office to sign up, the shop door opens and young couple come in to buy household insurance. They pay the first premium of £50 in cash. Just as they are leaving, the broker realises that they have given him two £50 notes stuck together.
He has read the GISC rules on honesty and integrity but his interpretation leaves him wondering “When my partner gets back, do I have to tell him about the extra £50?”
Was there anywhere safe, a L&G man asked, he could leave the DVD player he had on the stand as a prize.
The answer was a resounding “no”. Couldn't he take it with him when he left in the evening, the organiser suggested, which drew a blank. And Backchat knew why. Left on the stand, at least the L&G man would be able to tell the police honestly where he had left it. If he took it with him for the evening out with Backchat and chums, it wouldn't be there in the morning and he'd have no idea what he'd done with it.
Oh, and when Backchat questioned whether or not the player was insured there were some embarrassed L&G looks.
A fiery fake
An Olympic theme welcomed delegates as they came out of the lift. The only trouble was, the Olympic flame looked alarmingly close to the Olympic flag. So close was it, in fact, that it was making the flag toss and turn in its heat.
Trusty CII staff were on hand to warn the exhibitor and the flag was soon moved before the bulk of the delegates arrived.
As any fire insurer would have pointed out, the flame in question wasn't actually a real flame.
Mediocrity for gold
What cutting questions would the audience think up? “I've got a question,” piped up one bloke down the front, to Dennis Mahoney, group chief executive at Aon, and Peter Hobday, the highly respected broadcast journalist. “Are you two brothers?”
Aon boss Mahoney peered down at his questioner, pondered and then responded archly: “Yes, he's my younger brother.”
It was just getting silly by now. No one could bear any more Being the Best and determining what the future of our great grey industry will be. “I've got a question. If you were competing at the Olympics, what sport would you do?”
Quick as a flash and self-deprecating, the stocky Mahoney said the shot-put. CGNU boss Bob Scott (an Aussie) said “cricket” in a very superior way.
But the biggest laugh came from Bob Mendelsohn's answer: “Anything where consistent mediocrity wins medals,” he joked. Or, at least Backchat thinks he joked.
Backchat reckons that marketing guru, past CII president, UN commissioner and all-round good egg Alan Cleary, could always take over the back page of Insurance Times if he were ever out of a job.
Introducing Jonathan Clark of loss adjuster Crawford, Cleary said: “He's a very important director of the company.” Cleary explained: “It says here he is the strategic operations director, but I understand most people know him by his acronym.”