will, in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
A world where the man from the Pru
wasn’t seen in the same light as today’s
insurance salesmen are. Woody Allen:
“There are worse things in life than
death. Have you ever spent an evening
with an insurance salesman?”
Early in the 2000s, the Prudential
launched a new face-to-face financial
advice service aimed at former
customers in their homes, a move
billed as the return of the man from
the Pru. (The company’s female
employees weren’t thrilled, apparently.)
Many of the 200,000 potential
customers the Pru identified were felt
to need financial advice now that they
were approaching retirement.
The return of a direct sales force did
not, however, set the industry alight.
For many working-class people,
the man from the Pru was a financial
adviser, a friend and, sometimes, a
helpmate. Boy, are those days gone. &
ROGER CROMBIE is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I met the man from the Pru. That may not mean much to anyone, which is a pity.
major life event.
The men from the Pru were more
than a direct sales force. In an age of
small data, they knew everything about,
and were part of, their clients’ lives.
The most infamous man from the
Pru was William Herbert Wallace,
convicted in 1931 of the murder
of his wife Julia in their home in
Liverpool. The Court of Criminal
Appeal considered the jury had erred
and overturned its guilty verdict, the
first occasion in British legal history
where an appeal was allowed after
re-examination of the evidence. A dark
1990 BBC movie — called (what else?)
“The Man From The Pru” — featured
Jonathan Pryce as Wallace.
My man from the Pru was driving
a taxi. He keenly missed the old days.
He’d lost his job some years ago, when
the men from the Pru became the
men on the unemployment line. Call
centers took their place.
Without wanting to sprinkle magic
dust on what was, ultimately, a job,
imagine a world where your friends
and neighbors could pop in and out at
The man from the Pru began
selling insurance and collecting
relatively small premiums in cash on
a weekly basis, door-to-door, from
lower-income working families in the
late 19th century. For many Britons, a
weekly visit from the insurance man,
often mid-week, in the evening, was
a recurring part of life’s unfolding
pageant. An early option allowed
customers to save for funeral expenses.
The rep entered the endowment
premiums he collected in his
account book — God, this all sounds
prehistoric — and at term, the
beneficiaries would receive a lump
sum, often saved in anticipation of a
The term “man from the Pru” was
shorthand for a breed of British
neighborhood insurance agents. They
collected premiums, paid claims and
delivered objective advice, financial and
otherwise. They wove a web of service
around their communities.
The British Prudential Assurance
Co. (founded in 1848, 27 years earlier
than its American namesake) employed
at one point 100,000 direct salesmen.
Other major British insurers also
ran enormous direct sales forces.
These men — they were all men, as
I understand it — were the insurance
industry’s sales backbone, and
something more: its beating heart.
From the Pru
BY ROGER CROMBIE
ACA Still in Need
Of a Solution
BY JASON BEANS
time and money on office visits for
physicians to write prescriptions. This
adds unnecessary cost to the system,
wastes doctors’ time, and turns highly
trained pharmacists into pill counters.
We cannot look at prescription
data and think this required process
is adding value (e.g., the U.S. has the
highest rate of physician-prescribed
opioids in the world). Common sense
deregulation would cut costs and
improve user experience.
By lowering the costs of health care,
all citizens will have the opportunity
to improve their health care and
health insurance situations. Medicaid
and Medicare will still be available to
provide for the elderly and those in the
worst financial situations. High risk
pools can also be established to cover
the few people who fall outside any of
While the Republican plan lacked
support as a viable solution, the ACA’s
deficiencies will continue. I do not
expect Congress to address this topic
again in the next two years, but it will
have to be addressed. Hopefully, next
time, legislators will study what works
and create a sustainable solution. &
JASON BEANS is the founder and CEO of
Rising Medical Solutions. He can be reached
The current administration was elected with the promise it would repeal and replace the Affordable
Care Act (ACA). But bipartisan opposition killed the GOP’s
need maternity care. My mother will
never need prostate cancer treatment.
By eliminating unnecessary coverage
and using an HSA model to handle day-to-day health expenses, we’d cut costs.
Health insurance should be bought
like life insurance. Enrollees choose
whole life or a 10-year-plan. The
younger and healthier a person is when
they enroll, the less expensive their rate
Carriers would see years of high
profitability during a policy’s infancy,
and invest those profits to cover costlier
times later on. This arrangement
incentivizes people to buy insurance
early; securing lower rates and
eliminating policy cancellations when
they become ill.
• Increase Competition. In many
states, large health plans are a virtual
monopoly. National licensing for
health insurance would create better
penetration and more competition.
Competition always reduces cost and
• Reduce Treatment Regulations.
Providers face copious regulations,
often driven by special interest
lobbying. When I visit other countries,
I speak directly with a pharmacist to
get prescriptions. Pharmacists know
more about drugs and drug interactions
than medical doctors. Yet here we waste
reducing harm to people with serious
health issues, here’s how I’d restructure
• Treat Health Insurance Like
Other Personal Lines. People
often confuse health care with health
insurance. Insurance is financial
backing to protect us against rare,
Think of car insurance. Car
insurance does not cover oil changes,
tire rotations, alignments, etc. Car
owners budget for these foreseeable
Likewise, people purchase aspirin
and cold medications when they need
them. They can use a Health Savings
Account (HSA) to handle these costs.
It is also silly to mandate coverage
for unnecessary treatments. I will never
proposed replacement, the American
Health Care Act (AHCA). There are
no plans to draft another alternative;
yet we still need one.
Under the ACA, insurance
premiums rose as existing policyholders
paid for the very ill and newly insured.
Medicaid expansion, which
encompassed two-thirds of the newly
covered, increased the taxpayer burden
to subsidize a program long plagued
by excessive wait times and limited
coverage. Reimbursement incentives
prompted provider consolidation;
insurance carriers unable to profit on
the exchanges dropped out and many
patients couldn’t keep their doctors.
So what should be done? With the
aim of lowering costs, keeping health
care and insurance markets viable, and