Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Rejection

JAN: I just got the news: I’ve been rejected.

Not by a publisher. Or an agent. Or even awards committee.

I’ve been rejected by an insurance company.

Because I’m a writer. I thought my husband was kidding when he told me that I had to call the insurance agent about our new umbrella policy because there was a problem with my profession. That I was a liability.

The umbrella policy had nothing to do with writing. We wanted one because we have a rental property I had a hard time figuring out how what I made up on the page affected a potential slip and fall claim.

I called Jane, our insurance agent, and explained that all my books were murder mysteries. Fiction. Just some fun that could not be construed, in any way, to libel people. She checked with the company. “They don’t like you,” she said.

Tell them I don’t even have a book coming out this year, I said. She got back to me: “They still don’t like you.”

Apparently, they were worried that someone out there might think I was using them

as a model for one of my characters and thus libeling them.

(As a financial aside, since I draw a lot on my own journalism experiences in the creation of Hallie Ahern, my protagonist, I wonder if this means I can sue myself and make a killing?)

At any rate, Jane, who really is an insurance agent extraordinaire, eventually solved the problem, but it required a search. She had to find a special insurance company in LA that….. and get this: “insures celebrities.”

That’s right. Me and Angelina Jolie. We have the same kind of insurance problems.

The policy cost more money, but they, that’s just the price of celebrity!!

So have any of you other writers out there ever heard of this?? Or had to pay the higher premiums yourself?


  1. Whoa. That is INTERESTING!

    Insurance companies are such a fascinating idea, you have to admit. You pay them and pay them in case something bad happens. And then, if something bad happens, they say: do you think we're really going to pay you? Huh. And if we do of course, we'll drop you because youre too much of a risk.

    Sigh. Jannie, I hope it all works out..

  2. That is ridiculous--but then, that's the game they play. Having lived in Florida, I'm well aware of the insurance company loopholes.

    Although once the water hose to my washer broke while I was out (and I didn't listen to Mom who turns hers off as soon as she's done doing laundry), and the house was squishy with water.

    I found a good ombudsman by accident, who negotiated a good deal with the insurance company...BUT they wouldn't pay the $7 for new hoses. New floors, yes. But not new hoses.

  3. Terry,

    OKAY. Now I'm running downstairs to shut off that faucet that MY MOTHER always told me to shut off, too!!!


    THe part that freaks me out is that are actuaries out there deciding that my writing is full of risks. Now I'm working on non-ficiton book -- God knows what that may do to my premiums.

  4. Was this supposed to also cover malpractice? I've read that there is such a thing for writers. Though I'm not sure what you could get sued for... someone using your fictional murder method to kill someone, or someone so disappointed with the book that they got dyspepsia, or someone who threw your book at someone else and caused a concussion... the possibilities boggle the mind.

  5. This is ridiculous, Jan. I believe we are covered through our publisher for lawsuits, so why should an insurance company worry about it.
    Really--I've come to believe that they only want to insure people who are so perfect they will never make a claim!

  6. If there's a will to avoid insuring you, there's a way. This proves it. But kind of funny, my health insurance company has tried to get out of paying on every grounds. Maybe they should think of this one.

  7. I really only need the umbrella policy since I rent the vineyard property and if someone had a wild party and someone got into an accident, or the other strange stuff people will sue you for.

    Although the policy we finally found was $150 more expensive because of my -- lets call it celebrity status -- (i just love saying that), it's still relatively cheap.

    The bottom line is that people generally don't sue an author for any trumped up reason unless the book is a NYT Bestseller.

    Like Memoirs of Geisha.

    I've been swallowed by legal bills on stupid neighborhood stuff when the developer came in. I know how fast they can rack up even if the plaintiff doesn't have a leg to stand on.

  8. That is one strange story Jan! Never heard of such a thing--like you, I would have to laugh about the whole idea. Rhys, I think the insurance from the publisher really protects them, not us. That's what I seem to remember.

    Sorry I missed the neanderthal discussion yesterday--lost track of Monday!