How To Trust Total Strangers
Do you trust me?
It is hard to feel safe in this world. On the one hand, you can develop a certain feeling of security when you grow up with the same people and have good experiences with them.
However, nobody lives in a bubble. On a daily basis we encounter people we don’t know. How do we get to trust strangers?
The Internet can make that remarkably easy. John Stossel reports about this on reason.com. He writes about all the businesses that have started websites through which people can trade information and experiences about different service providers and potential associates.
In particular, he praises the rating system that sets objective benchmarks to evaluate potential candidates:
But why would you trust total strangers to enter your home? Task Rabbit says its “rabbits” are screened for professional qualifications, but so what? I wouldn’t trust any company’s promise. What I do trust is the reciprocal rating system that the Internet allows. Rabbits who are trustworthy get good ratings. Offices listed at Breather that are safe and pleasant get good ratings. Friendly customers who pay bills get good ratings. It’s wonderful. Internet ratings give us more reason than ever before to interact with new people.
The Internet becomes a hugely potent “branding mechanism” for the businessman. And we all know that there is nothing more dear to someone in business than his reputation. As John Says:
Even the greediest businessman knows he needs a good reputation. And now, thanks to the Internet, his reputation is easier to find than ever.
I think the life insurance industry would greatly benefit from entrepreneurs setting up these types of sites for us. Certainly, we have traditional industry rating companies such as AM Best and Standard and Poors who rate insurance carriers according to sophisticated financial criteria. Unfortunately, many consumers who are not financial analysts find these assessments meaningless. Wouldn’t you like to see consumer reviews about service and claims for the insurance companies with whom you have your policies? Those firms who work hard to maintain a good reputation would have a competitive edge.
This would certainly hold true for brokers. Those of us who engage in unethical or illegal practices do get reported to state insurance departments, and these filings become public record. But these brokers are on the fringe. How do you know that the broker who is offering you a quote is really a basically good guy who can get the job done? Has he worked hard to keep his reputation golden?
Wouldn’t you like to know that?