Last month after a case settled just before trial started, I spent a couple of weeks in Paris and London. I promised Oxford and Texas A&M Presidential scholar George Edwards last year I would try to meet him if my calendar cleared up. It did at the last minute and off I went.

Here is a picture of George and me outside the British Museum:

And another of him pontificating to me about the importance of the Rosetta Stone:

I needed that Rosetta Stone or its modern-day equivalent while in France. Readers of this blog know that my English grammar is somewhat suspect—and I practice English every day. French—you have never heard anybody butcher that beautiful language until you listen to me try to speak it. An example was me trying to explain to a Parisian cab driver I wanted to go to the famous bridge "Pont Alexandre." It led to me pointing at a yellow card (for gold) and pretending to claw in the air while growling (the bridge has gold lions). The cab driver spoke no English. Neither of us were very good at charades either, but it is a funny visual memory of me trying to communicate with a Frenchman where I wanted to go in Paris now that I am back in "the States."

My trip to the famous London store Harrods lead me to think of the importance of business interruption and extra expense coverage. Harrods is an amazing department store in London. You can buy anything there, whether common, luxury, or exotic. The King of Albania bought Ronald Reagan an elephant from Harrods.

Harrods also has an important insurance lesson. Just before Christmas in 1883, a fire burned the original Harrods to the ground. Harrods was insured and immediately sent a notice to all of its customers that their Christmas orders would be delayed but fulfilled on time before Christmas. Another merchant was contracted with to fulfill the store’s orders to make this happen. A much grander store was quickly designed and rebuilt. Record profits were made in 1884 which many attribute to the fulfilling of pending orders of customers which generated even greater customer loyalty to the company and the new store, which is substantially the same today.

Failing to either purchase extra expense coverage or to take advantage of the benefits can be devastating. Most commercial business owners do not fully understand all the benefits available under their property insurance policies. Many insurance company adjusters are not financially compensated to point out when those benefits can be used to help withstand a loss far after the repairs are made because few claims managers overseeing those claims adjusters in the field get a bonus or promotion to pay more when they could pay less.

When I learned about the historical fire to Harrods while in London, I thought that a couple of lessons could be worth emphasizing:

  1. Extra expense coverage pays expenses for the goodwill of keeping current customers so they are there after the business is back in operation and is usually not limited to reducing income loss during the period of restoration.
  2. A perfect time to remodel and make business structures more efficient, contemporary or grand is right after a loss happens–insurance benefits provide the first layer of funding for the future.

There is no place like home, but you can learn a lot while in faraway places.