Many in my office laugh at my collection of insurance company memorabilia. We have old insurance advertising records, magazine advertisements dating back to the 1920’s, shirts, hats, coffee mugs, decks of cards, and a long hallway covered with old insurance advertising signs. Our library has insurance books written by and about insurance companies and the insurance industry. Many of these are a century old.

sWhenever I get involved in a case, I ask our Knowledge Manager, Ruck DeMinico, to run numerous searches for information about the insurance company my client has a dispute against. Ruck is an attorney with a library science degree. Most law firms no longer have such attorneys because of cost considerations and internet legal research has reduced the demand for such skilled individuals. I feel that law firms that invest in an employee skilled at finding information a little off the beaten path, have an "extra edge" to winning cases. While some of my brilliant colleagues need no additional help, I will take all the "edges" I can get.

A current case in Indianapolis has me reading these types of non-legal sources about Auto-Owners Insurance Company. While much of it is perfect as a substitute for sleeping pills, one book, "Take The Stairs," is a worthwhile read for anybody wishing to personally better themselves or their career. It was written by former Auto-Owners CEO, Roger Looyenga, with Joe Tye, a teacher of values-based leadership. The values listed in the book are also on Auto-Owners Insurance web site, listed as the company’s Core Values, and the book is full of practical suggestions for improvement of individuals and organizations.

For example, as an employer trying to hire people with a passion for helping others, I appreciate Looyenga’s remarks about a certain type of employee:

Finally, the third category is people who see their work not just as a job or career, but as a calling. When I think of someone with a calling, musicians and doctors come to mind–people who seemed to know from the time they could walk what they wanted to become. But I’ve also met many people for whom insurance is more than just a job or career. For them, helping people cope with the disasters and tragedies of life really is a calling. In Abraham Maslow’s well-known hierarchy of needs, the highest human need is food, clothing and shelter. Second is protection and security–and that is what we insurance professionals give to our customers. That’s a noble calling.

I think of an Auto-Owners agent who got a call from a client whose house had burned down. The man escaped the fire in his pajamas, but he lost everything else, including the wallet containing his cash and credit cards. Without a moment’s hesitation, that agent withdrew $1,000 in cash and took it to his homeless customer so he could buy some clothes and check into a hotel while the paperwork started to be processed. That’s seeing the work as a calling.

Looyenga also provides some very practical advice to policyholders when purchasing insurance:

…obtaining insurance is a two-step process. First, they need to find the best agent, and then obtain the most appropriate and effective coverage. That is the "take the stairs" approach. Unfortunately, all too many people take the "escalator" approach by simply making a few phone calls to find the cheapest price for what they think they need (which might not, in fact, be what they really need).

The following quotes I intend to use in my case:

Honesty always begins with self-honesty, and deceiving others always begins with self-deception…Auto-Owners has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to dishonesty!

And my favorite quotes from this book come from my favorite rock and roll band:

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done–all you need is love.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Even if you have no interest in the insurance industry except as a consumer, you will find this book an excellent and motivational resource. Do yourself a favor and buy it.

In the interim, here’s a little musical joy while thinking about what love can do for you:


And, while on the topic of love, an important message from an important angel:


Have a great day!