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March 23, 2011 / Brett Cohrs

Taking Advantage of Forrest Gump

A day after Forrest Gump was voted the most memorable film character, Popeater.com posted an article about some of the finer elements of the insurance industry.

Apparently, there is an allegation that perhaps an insurance agency decided Tom Hanks was as naive as his lovable character.  Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have filed a lawsuit claiming that their broker overcharged them in a ‘predatory embezzlement scheme.’

The alleged errors (or fraudulent acts) were discovered when Hanks and family switched insurance brokers.  The new broker apparently noticed what appeared to be multiple coverages on the same items and over-charges on certain policies.

If the allegations are true, then it appears to be a case of a broker that might have seen Hanks and Wilson as walking money signs. (In the back of my mind, I’m wondering why the couple didn’t have folks on their payroll to handle annoyances such as insurance, but apparently I over-estimate the staff of major Hollywood figures).

The lessons here:

1.  Know Your Stuff: What are the items you need to insure? Do you have 3 cars, 1 boat, a main residence, and a vacation home? What about a business? What are your assets and exposures there?

2.  Know Your Policies: Occasionally review the policies you have in place. Know where they are in your house. Scan them and put them in a secure place on your computer (or download them from your carrier’s website).

3.  Play the Matching Game: Once you know the stuff you have to insure and have a handle on your policies. Spreadsheet it. Match the stuff to the policies.  If there’s a hole, talk to your agent about filling it. If you see more than one policy on an item, talk to your agent about what happened to Mr. Hanks and that maybe he better fix the problem and remove the double coverage.

You can apply these ideas to your personal lines coverages and your business coverages.  More than likely, Mr. Hanks has a heck of a portfolio and multiple business ventures to insure. Some of you might also have complicated personal and business insurance needs.

Make sure to have a trusted adviser or two in addition to your (hopefully) trusted broker to help sift through everything.  Definitely review when major changes take place. Other than that, a good every third year full evaluation is a solid idea.

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