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The Devil's Dictionary:    

Definition of Insurance

  INSURANCE   noun
An ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table.
  INSURANCE AGENT:  My dear sir, that is a fine house -- pray let me       insure it.
  HOUSE OWNER:  With pleasure.  Please make the annual premium so       low that by the time when, according to the tables of your       actuary, it will probably be destroyed by fire I will have       paid you considerably less than the face of the policy.
  INSURANCE AGENT:  O dear, no -- we could not afford to do that.       We must fix the premium so that you will have paid more.
  HOUSE OWNER:  How, then, can I afford that?
  INSURANCE AGENT:  Why, your house may burn down at any time.       There was Smith's house, for example, which --
  HOUSE OWNER:  Spare me -- there were Brown's house, on the       contrary, and Jones's house, and Robinson's house, which --
  HOUSE OWNER:  Let us understand each other.  You want me to pay       you money on the supposition that something will occur       previously to the time set by yourself for its occurrence.  In       other words, you expect me to bet that my house will not last       so long as you say that it will probably last.
  INSURANCE AGENT:  But if your house burns without insurance it       will be a total loss.
  HOUSE OWNER:  Beg your pardon -- by your own actuary's tables I       shall probably have saved, when it burns, all the premiums I       would otherwise have paid to you -- amounting to more than the       face of the policy they would have bought.  But suppose it to       burn, uninsured, before the time upon which your figures are       based.  If I could not afford that, how could you if it were       insured?
  INSURANCE AGENT:  O, we should make ourselves whole from our       luckier ventures with other clients.  Virtually, they pay your       loss.
  HOUSE OWNER:  And virtually, then, don't I help to pay their       losses?  Are not their houses as likely as mine to burn before       they have paid you as much as you must pay them?  The case       stands this way:  you expect to take more money from your       clients than you pay to them, do you not?
  INSURANCE AGENT:  Certainly; if we did not --
  HOUSE OWNER:  I would not trust you with my money.  Very well       then.  If it is certain, with reference to the whole body of       your clients, that they lose money on you it is probable,       with reference to any one of them, that he will.  It is       these individual probabilities that make the aggregate       certainty.
  INSURANCE AGENT:  I will not deny it -- but look at the figures in       this pamph --
  HOUSE OWNER:  Heaven forbid!
  INSURANCE AGENT:  You spoke of saving the premiums which you would       otherwise pay to me.  Will you not be more likely to squander       them?  We offer you an incentive to thrift.
  HOUSE OWNER:  The willingness of A to take care of B's money is       not peculiar to insurance, but as a charitable institution you       command esteem.  Deign to accept its expression from a       Deserving Object.

Devil's Dictionarydefinition from:
The Devil's Dictionary
by Ambrose Bierce, 1911


Last updated: 9/3/2011 12:48:30