thinking differently

How much discount can you get on your car insurance?
How much discount can you get on your car insurance?

I have just had an ‘invitation’ to renew my car insurance. It seems to be significantly higher this year and the email I received this morning explains that this is because insurers can no longer take a customer’s gender into account when preparing their car insurance. I’m not sure why that makes it more expensive, but I would like to know why.

The email continues…

If I take a ‘moment’ to provide some new information they will give me a more accurate price, tailored to me. There is a strong hint that doing so will save me money on the quote. Now I am intrigued. What information that they don’t already have can reduce the amount of money they want from me to insure my car?

I don’t think my hobbies will make a difference (unless they are driving in demolition derby events or rallying (they aren’t in case my insurer reads my blog!)). I can’t imagine that my height would be of interest to them unless I am too small to see over the steering wheel or reach the pedals. Would they want to know about the last film I watched (if it was one with a car chase in it I might be tempted to emulate it).

This is a blog in progress so I am now going to blog off for a moment (because the email said it would only take a moment), find out what other information they want, and will then report back to you.

[blogs off]

[lots of moments pass]

[blogs back on]

And after providing all of the information they asked about, all of which they already had, the quote changed by a massive £0.00! I am trying to remain philosophical about it. I will consult a few other insurers (and possibly some meerkats) to see if there is a better price available.

Where I thought all this was leading was in fact not where it ended up. I was wondering what alternative information to gender would make a difference for them. What else would they use to judge me? The answer is ‘nothing’. There is no difference.

I wonder what criteria you use to judge people. Oh, yes, I know we don’t judge people. We accept everyone equally.

But we do judge people: on the basis of their appearance (well-dressed or scruffy for example); or on the basis of the sound of their voice (posh or common?) We judge others on the basis of all sorts of criteria – usually comparing them to ourselves (not to meerkats). How are they different from us and how are they similar?

This is something we do almost instinctively. We evaluate other people. I guess anthropologists might say that it is an evolutionary instinct to assess whether someone is a potential threat, ally or even mate.

The issue is whether the difference makes any difference.

I think it should.

Yes, I really did say that differences should make a difference to us.

Hold on, put those stones down for a moment and hear me out!

I am not saying that there is any excuse for racism, sexism, ageism or any other heinous prejudice-based ‘ism’. Not at all.

But some differences are meant to make a difference.

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Jesus read those words from Isaiah 61 and said that they were written about him. But how are we going to proclaim good news to the poor if we do not first notice who is poor? How can we release prisoners if we don’t see that some people are in shackles? How do we help the blind to see if we ignore the lack of sight?

The difference that difference should make is that it motivates us to make a difference (positively) to the lives of those whose lives are less than they could be. Followers of Jesus are called to carry on his work: to be good news and bring it; to be freedom-bringers (campaigning against slavery in its modern forms, seeking to help people bound by debt, blessing those who are imprisoned spiritually…); to be sight-recoverers (helping people to see the truth about God, seeking to work against disability discrimination, using our newly insured cars to help people who haven’t got transport of their own…); and telling people that God’s on their side (‘the year of the Lord’s favour’).

God help us (literally) if we ever fail to notice differences like that and fail to act in the way that Jesus would.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

insuring a good welcome*

This is Lloyds of London’s office, in case you did not recognise it and wondered what it had to do with today’s blog!

Being diligent consumers, when our insurances are up for renewal we shop around. We check to see that the price we have been quoted and the cover offered is the best available. And if we can get a better deal that our current insurer can’t match we will switch to the new insurer.

A while ago I used to think that customer loyalty meant something to these companies. I used to think that because I had been with a company for a while they would give me a better offer. I used to think that because I had been with them for a few years they would consider me a preferred customer. But the reality I have discovered is that they expect customers to switch in the manner I have described and do very little about trying to keep us. They don’t count customer loyalty very highly, in my experience.

At least that’s true of the big companies who process our accounts with computers and think of us as numbers on a spreadsheet.

I have my home insurance with a smaller company who don’t work through a website. I get to speak to a real person each time I have a query or want to renew. They are great. They are friendly. They are personal. I get the feeling they want me to stay with them.

A couple of weeks ago we switched my wife’s car insurance to a new company. Since then they have pestered her with weekly phone calls – offering her better deals on her other insurances, offering to quote for insurance we don’t have or want, and being rather persistent. I think she’s regretting using that company.

It’s a very delicate balance. I presume that these companies would prefer us to stay with them. But it is difficult to provide a personal service when you are as big as them. And you can be overzealous in your communication.

I have tried applying the same concept to churches.

It seems that many people have a loyalty to a particular church. But we can’t take that for granted. If we do they can ultimately feel neglected and perhaps wonder if they would be more appreciated in a different church. Do those who are disaffected wonder whether we would miss them? Do they believe we don’t care? And the larger the church, the more difficult it is to ensure that people are still cared for adequately. As followers of Jesus, who met the needs of individuals in large crowds, we need to ensure that we show his love and treat each person as precious.

Those who are newcomers to a church can be given a warm welcome, but is it possible to be overzealous? Do we see them as potential new leaders for our children’s groups or new house group leaders when they have only been coming for three weeks?

It’s not easy. If we get it right in our church I will bottle it and sell it!

In the meantime, if you are feeling either neglected or overstretched in your church, don’t assume that someone else is aware. If you want it sorted, speak with someone. They will want to put things right. It may require grace, forgiveness, apologies and time, but it is worth it. You’re worth it!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A true story.

A friend of mine was contacted by a salesman who want to speak to him about insurance. He agreed to give him 45 minutes of his time if the insurance salesman would give him 15 minutes so he could talk about a different insurance scheme. The salesman agreed.

He came around to my friend’s house and spoke about what they could offer. After 45 minutes my friend politely declined the offer.

(He is a Rev).

My friend then said, “So I would like to talk to you about eternal life insurance…”

 

*yes I do know that it should be ‘ensuring a good welcome’ but I like the pun

insurance

I had a leaflet arrive along with an order that I received yesterday. It was for ‘Specialist Golf Insurance’. For just £29.99 per year my golf could be insured. I was intrigued by the concept of ‘Specialist Golf Insurance’ so did not bin the leaflet immediately. I wanted to see what would be covered…

There is a ‘new for old’ policy for golf equipment that is stolen, lost or damaged.

It covers personal liability for up to £5million (in case I get sued for a wayward shot?)

It covers personal accidents (presumably from all the scratches I get rummaging around in the bushes looking for wayward balls that are not stopped by hitting people).

There is cover for accidental damage to Third Party Property (presumably windows damaged by wayward shots that miss the people and the bushes).

There is cover for dental treatment. Yes, you did read that right: dental treatment. I assume that’s for when you hit a wayward shot against a tree and it pings back and breaks your teeth, Tom and Jerry style.

There is an amount to cover hiring golf equipment if you have suffered loss or theft.

And there’s an amount to cover repaying some of your Club Subscription, presumably if you are recovering from the dental treatment mentioned above.

There is one more aspect to the cover, which I love.

There is £150 available for if you score a hole in one, to cover the bar bill. (It is traditional to buy everyone a drink in the bar after you have scored a hole in one).

I love the idea of insuring against such a brilliant thing happening. Personally I can’t imagine ever hitting a green in one, never mind getting the ball in the hole with just one shot, but it does happen and if you take out this insurance you will be protected from a hefty bar bill.

I wonder if the Baptist Insurance Company should offer the following extras on their policies for churches.

Insuring against someone coming to faith: provides a sum of money to have a party in the church when someone becomes a Christian.

Insuring against baptisms: provides money for towels, increased water useage and mopping up afterwards.

Insuring against new members: buys membership cards, additional printing of minutes and agendas for meetings and any additional printing, pays for an extra cushion for the hard pews.

Insuring against God moving in the church: pays for tissues (tears of joy or sadness), sedation for Ministers (when someone says that the sermon spoke to them), replacing burnt dinners because the service went on longer, therapy for children’s group leaders who have longer with the little darlings than expected.

I hope you realise my tongue is firmly in my cheek as I wrote the above, but the idea of insuring against good news got me thinking silly thoughts.

How about we think of all the good things that God is doing at the moment and instead of insuring against them we thank God for them, encourage one another with them and tell people beyond the church about them?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

(I have not currently taken out the insurance)

>go compare the money supermeerkat*

>My car insurance is up for renewal soon. I had the dreaded letter from my insurance company and it is not actually quite as bad as I feared. It was higher than last year but not drastically so. What I can’t understand, though, is why the insurance rises as the value of the car diminishes. Some mistake, surely?


Well, I have done the thing we are advised to do and compared small desert-dwelling members of the mongoose family (or was it a similar-sounding site) and visited a couple of other price comparison websites. So far my insurance quote is looking fairly competitive.


I know that car insurance is compulsory (for excellent reasons) but I can’t help wondering what God makes of Christians having insurance. Does it come under the category marked ‘lack of faith’ or the category marked ‘wise living’? Does he have a chuckle when churches insure themselves against ‘Acts of God’ and reach for the ‘smite’ button on his computer? In Western society insurance is an option for many people. We can insure our cars, our homes, our mobile phones, our appliances, our lives – almost anything. But for the vast majority of people on this planet insurance is not even an option: even if they could afford it.


So I am thanking God that I have the option of insuring. I am grateful to him that I have items that need to be insured. I recognise how privileged I am. I know that with that privilege comes responsibility – not to hoard, not to covet, to be generous and to remember that this is only ‘stuff’ and that I am merely a temporary steward of it during my time on this planet. I will try to hold loosely to the stuff that can be insured and to hold tighter to the One who offers eternal life insurance through faith in Jesus.



Jeff’s farm was destroyed by a tornado. His wife Amy called their insurance agent and said, “The farm was insured for $200,000 and we want the money.”

“I’m sorry Amy, but it doesn’t work that way. We will determine the value of your farm and get you a new one that is worth about the same.” the agent said.

Amy paused and replied, “Well, in that case, I’d like to cancel the life insurance policy on my husband.”


*For any non-UK readers, this title is a combination of the names of several well-known price comparison websites in the UK