Hope Springs Eternal

By | April 5, 2004

We’ve all got fantasies we cling to that, in some way, make it easier for us to endure our present troubles. They are dreams so grandiose, so implausible, that they keep us striving to inch ever closer to our goals, however elusive they may be. As Browning wrote, “If a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, then what’s a heaven for?”

Yet it seems that as spring begins to kick into gear around the Midwest, hope springs eternal in the human breast. Two long dreamt of, but rarely seriously pondered, possibilities now seem closer to reality than ever before — a healthy homeowners market, and a Cubs World Series champion.

As contributor Constance Parten writes in this edition’s cover story, industry observers are cautiously optimistic that the homeowners line of insurance is stabilizing in spite of sky-high loss ratios. But, she adds, everyone is knocking on wood that a costly natural catastrophe won’t derail the fledgling recovery.

Of course, no one should know more about catastrophe than the Chicago Cubs, who last year came within five outs of making their first trip to the World Series in 58 years. Not many Cubs fans ultimately blamed Steve Bartman, a die-hard who interfered with a foul ball that left-fielder Moises Alou may have caught, for the team’s failing to advance after taking a 3-1 playoff series lead against the Marlins.

However, that didn’t stop Harry Caray’s Restaurant in Chicago from purchasing the foul ball at auction and making a national publicity stunt out of destroying the ball in a tongue-in-cheek effort to undo an alleged curse which supposedly manifested itself in the “Bartman ball.”

When it came time to put on the event, which drew national media coverage and hundreds of Cubs fans and curiosity seekers, the fire marshal required they have a certificate of insurance. After the restaurant’s broker looked high and low, coverage was finally placed with Prime Insurance Services Inc., an E&S carrier with an office in Chicago. You may read all about the underwriting of the policy in our story on page 12.

As the baseball season gets underway, the Cubs are widely favored to win the National League pennant, which once again has people knocking on every available wooden surface. As with the homeowners market, however, no one really knows whether catastrophe will be avoided. In the meantime, the best we can do is hold on to our dreams. And in the dreaming, who knows what can be achieved?

Thanks for reading Insurance Journal Midwest.

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