The Ties Between the Military and Insurance


The Ties Between the Military and Insurance
An A-10C Thunderbolt II prepares to land following a training mission Jan. 11, 2014. The entire A-10 fleet has been modified for improved precision engagement and now carries the A-10C designation. The A-10 is assigned to the 188th Fighter Wing’s 184th Fighter Squadron, Arkansas Air National Guard. (Courtesy photo/Retired Capt. Brad Kidder)

One winter, I was flying as a wingman over the North Sea. Suddenly, my leader’s F-4 jet engine caught on fire. He had enough time to make a Mayday call – or a “Save Our Souls” call – before he and his backseater ejected from a nice warm cockpit into the 40-degree water and heaving seas.

An unprotected person in that kind of water has less than a half-hour to live. Not only is the water near freezing, but there’s also the fact that you’re scared, and you’ve got the adrenaline going. At that time, we were made to wear “poopie suits.” They are like the wetsuits you see skin divers use. Poopie suits give you an extra 20 minutes.

While waiting for their rescue, I flew over them in my own F-4 to keep them in sight.

RAF air traffic control immediately pinpointed where they went down. The search and rescue helicopters scrambled right away to pick them up.

They were lucky. The helicopters were not that far away. By the time they got back to the squadron, they both had hypothermia. But they were able to walk from the helicopter into the squadron and be taken to the hospital.

I’ve had so many experiences like that in my military career. My brother Mike, who was also a fighter pilot, has had these experiences as well.

Often people ask me what our military experiences have brought to our ability to service people at Waitte’s Insurance. Well, I think it has taught us many lessons. Here are a few.

Lesson 1 – Follow the Air Force Academy’s Motto

My brother and I run the business by using the motto of my alma mater: “We will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate among us any who do.”

If we see something that an insurance company is doing that we don’t like, or we see something that an individual is trying to pull over the company’s eyes, then we speak up.

And we are very very straightforward. I think that’s the one thing that pilots have to be. I mean, you are trusting somebody with your life. And remember, in my business, people are trusting their insurable assets with us.

So, we are ethical, honest, and trustworthy.

Lesson 2 – Maintain a Professional Attitude

We are prompt. We are thorough. We see things through to completion. But the biggest thing is being able to see a problem. If we see something that we think will become a problem, we try to address it…right away.

We analyze the situation and then take the appropriate actions to help our insureds, whatever those actions might be. It helps that we have pretty much seen everything in this industry for all the years we’ve been here.  

Lesson 3 – Be Reliable

In the military, you learn to rely on your team to succeed. And I think that really applies here when dealing with our customers. They need to rely on us.

Lesson 4 – Be Flexible

Another thing you learn under the stress of military operation: You have to be ready to adjust to any situation that develops.  That happens a lot of times here. Issues will be brought to us, either by insurance companies or by our customers. We have to be flexible and make the right decision.

Lesson 5 – Admit Your Mistakes

When you fly, if you made a mistake, you admit it. If we give a quote, and we’ve made a mistake, we take the loss because it was our mistake. 

The Bottom Line….

The military really drives home how important your part is to the big picture. In the insurance business, we are more than just your agent. We’re like a caretaker, helping you protect your valuable assets.