Penny Black: The Ghost of Christmases Past


Lady-about-town Penny Black has been publishing her insurance industry gossip and insider news and views in three centuries - so she's seen a fair few insurance Christmases, some bawdier than others, and all of them fuelled by the finest G&Ts the industry has to offer.

So in the spirit of Christmas, Post decided to rifle through the archives and pick out the best festive columns that will really jingle your bells.

23 December 1999
Penny is glad to hear Lloyd's is maintaining its good relations with
the press over the festive period. Special congratulations go to corporate
evangelist and media junky Robert Hiscox. Despite chatting to Post on the
day of his press party, he seemed blissfully unaware that such an event
was even occurring that evening, and was nowhere to be seen on the night.
Oh well, at least the dashing Alan McCormick of Fishburn Hedges was there
to provide light refreshments till the early hours.

Microsoft employees writing Christmas cardsCorporate Christmas cards are a curse or a blessing. If you are a charity
then you probably count the money from sales and thank the good Lord that someone came up with the idea. You do, however, get some strange choices of charity. One that caused amusement among Penny's colleagues was the Lloyd's Non-Marine Association picking a rather splendid card from the Royal National Lifeboats Institution. Is a merger in the offing?

And finally, Penny's great grandmother has urged that we should not sign
off for the year/century/ millennium without noting that Post has
survived another century without missing an issue. When we appear again on 7 January we will have published in three different centuries - that's one
hell of a lot of words.

14 December 2000
shutterstock-47139589Pet Plan hasn't really got to grips with Christmas cheer. Amidst the lovely cards and tinsel received by Penny at this time of year, the insurer sees fit to remind one that arthritis, lameness and dermatitis are the top three claims on pet policies. Yo ho ho.



Penny is a bit tired this week, burning the candles at both ends in order
to attend as many Christmas insurance bashes as possible. But it was a
case of deja heard, when the boss of Railtrack was unable to make the
Airmic dinner due to unforeseen circumstances. Now where have we heard
that before ...

And finally, Christmas. Once again a company has managed to send out a
card with a greeting on it, declaring that it will not be sending out
cards this year, but giving the money to charity. The culprit? The
International Underwriting Association.

20 December 2001
Holiday HangoverWith the party season in full swing, one's mind does tend to wonder -hangovers, pah - and this week Penny was pondering why, two years on from the great fire of Earlham Street in Covent Garden, no work has been
started on the fire gutted warehouse opposite one's office. Was a possible insurance dispute between the building's owners and Schroders Exempt Property Unit Trust and CGNU the reason behind the inactivity? Well, on calling one's friends at CGNU Penny was informed the claim had in fact been settled six months ago and at a fraction of the £20m figure quoted at the time. Penny knows builders can be unreliable, but this is ridiculous.

Oh yes, how could I forget? Penny would love to wish you all a very merry
Christmas and a happy New Year.

19 December 2002
Christmas is supposedly the season of goodwill, though perhaps someone
should mention that to those meanies Lawton Public Relations, based in
Southampton. Despite offering to reimburse the train fare of an intrepid
Post reporter, who gamely ventured to see their client in Southampton, when crunch-time came and the reporter had to return the offer was forgotten.

Drink Less SEO Kool-Aid Penny thinks claims managers across the land could learn a trick or two from the US, where the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has enshrined the top 13 insurance fraudsters of 2002 into the first annual Insurance Fraud Hall of Fame. Particularly ingenious were brothers Jimmie and Isom Turquitt, who lured alcoholics to their farm for bogus bricklaying jobs,
buying life insurance policies on them and feeding them booze so they'd drink themselves to death.

Perhaps journalists should question insurers' motives for drink-fuelled
parties more closely in future? Merry Christmas to one and all.

25 December 2003
This week, Penny's colleague's got into the festive spirit by entering a team into the Insurance Institute of London West End branch pub quiz.
Having over-reserved, the Post team faced a steward's inquiry after a rival team issued a complaint about the fact it had 10, not eight members. Fortunately, the two interlopers were allowed to stay but the team was eventually vanquished into sixth place, with John Bannermann beating Norwich Union property owners in a tie-break. One is certain the reason both teams did so well was nothing to do with their position either side of the Post team.

car-covered-in-snowFinally, Christmas brings the potential peril of putting one's back out while shovelling snow. Such poor luck befell Al Stanley, president and chief executive of ERC Global Life and Health. Get well soon.




15 December 2005
Cold winter nights have always frozen Penny to the bone, and she likes nothing more than retiring to the sun at this time of year. So, she was very interested to hear one of our biggest insurance brands is also thinking along the same lines. Admiral Insurance is now believed to be heading for Spain. Back in September, the Cardiff-based direct insurer admitted it was investigating opportunities in Western Europe. So what chance a launch of 'Almirante'? It is a case of watch this space, while Penny packs her case.

A screenshot of Coldplay's Facebook pagePenny has certainly been packing in a lot of Christmas do's in the last few weeks, and has seen the dawn rise a number of times at various salubrious venues across the City. However, it has not been all just drink, drink, gossip, gossip, with insurance-sponsored trips to see Franz Ferdinand with those groovy chicks at Markel International, and Coldplay, courtesy of the more chilled folks at Zurich, included in this year's invitations.

And finally, as Penny looks forward to some well-earned rest during the holidays, a happy Christmas and New Year to you all!

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