When an insurance broker
obtains permission to bind an
insurer to a particular risk,
and issue a policy,
folks in the know call this
"giving the pen" to someone.
You don't give the pen to just anyone,
any more than you give your class ring
to anyone, if you value your ring at all.
The pen is for people you trust with
your money, and sometimes your economic life.
But all too often, when you give someone the pen,
they take risks you'd never take, and
write policies you'd never write.
Soon, you're awash in the proverbial sea of red ink.
I know of a company in the midwest, in which people
wielded the pen so freely that the losses
brought the company down. There's probably a lesson
there about never underwriting anything you don't
But I meet so many incurable romantics who "give the pen"
in their personal lives,
without stint or underwriting guideline--
when the losses begin to mount,
they wonder why they trusted so much,
they wonder if the losses will drag everyone down.