At midnight on January 1st 2020, we, the world, celebrated the start of a new decade. Little did we know that the beginning of this decade would disrupt all of our lives within the blink of an eye. Today we are experiencing one of the most impactful pandemics in recent times hitting all humankind with the force of a hurricane. In addition to its immediate impact on health outcomes, and tragically, deaths, it is clear to everyone that the outbreak is likely to have long-lasting economic and social impacts globally.
This virus completely ignores man-made geographical borders and doesn’t differentiate between rich and poor. It forces us to live a so-called ‘new normal’ with millions of people losing their jobs and others working from home, while pushing healthcare workers past the verge of exhaustion. No one really knows how we are going to live between now and the discovery of a vaccine – nor do we know how long the virus will dictate our daily lives. These days, politicians repeatedly use the phrase ‘We are in this together’. But what does this actually mean? For the very first time ‘we’ does not mean an isolated community, such as the fans of the Toronto Raptors celebrating the victory of their team (which excludes the fans of the competition). Instead, this time ‘we’ means the largest community we can imagine. ‘We’ means literally every single one of us.
The American author and political activist Helen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”. What she meant by this is that a community can combine its power and has the strength to make change happen. The word ‘community’ is derived from the Latin communitas, meaning fellowship. For us at Cookhouse Labs community is a place that we hold in common, such as a physical or geographical location, as well as principles, interests, history or resources. It is a place where we take the initiative to make changes and share with each other. In times like this, where we need to practice physical distancing, the connection to a community is more important than ever before.
Insurance was born out of the idea of protecting the community. In 3000 B.C., Chinese merchants grew tired of losing their goods in shipwrecks and began to divide their goods evenly among ships, so that each boat carried a mix of cargo and not just the goods of one merchant. As a result, a shipwreck produced a slight loss for all and not one big loss for only one merchant. Over time, the idea of reducing the risk of a financial loss was developed further, and in 1966, Nicholas Barbon reacted to the great London fire by creating the first insurance company that offered insurance against natural disasters.
What started as a community initiative to protect the loss of individuals is now a regulated industry aiming to maximize profit as any other financial service provider, with the exception of mutual insurers. As a result it is no surprise that the perception of the current business model of insurers is poor amongst customers, especially the younger ones.
In days where communities all over the world are negatively impacted by COVID-19, where we are experiencing the biggest disruption since World War II in most areas of living, these communities are eager to find security and protection. We now have the chance to show our communities that we care about them. Our industry is able to provide security and protection, because this is the purpose of insurance. Insurance is more than a financial institution collecting premiums and paying out claims. Insurance is everyone’s port in the storm.
Our mission at Cookhouse Labs is to tackle the problems the industry is facing together, using a human-centered approach. We invite you to become a member and join our community of innovators on our journey to Make Insurance Better!
COVID-19 Update: During these challenging times, we at Cookhouse Labs want to play our part in supporting the community. As part of our gift to you, we have made all of our virtual events in May free of charge for members of the insurance and reinsurance community. Take a look at the events you can join here.