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Calm Down...Later?

This month's editorial, "Can you be too cautious?" by Katherine Burger, Editorial Director.

As I write this column, our country is literally within hours of going to war. By the time this issue goes into the mail (possibly even by the time it is posted on our Web site) the war could be over...or it could just be getting started. Regardless of the outcome, it will represent one more development in the transformed and very uncertain world most of us are still trying to understand. Many of those uncertainties have immediate relevance to the insuranceindustry: uncertainty about risks, new markets, potential partners and customers, the security and integrity of information, systems and infrastructure, the safety of business travel, the health of the economy.

If any business has mastered the art of anticipating both worst- and best-case scenarios, it's insurance. But it's not just about business—these uncertainties can be experienced at a very personal level. I generally consider myself to be a cautious and prudent, but not paranoid, person. But lately I wonder: Can you be too cautious? For example, there was the "random security check" I experienced last month at the Tampa airport curbside check-in (probably because I presented a one-way e-ticket that was part of a multi-leg trip). My name came up on the computer, and off the skycap went with my drivers license. What I worry about is: What did he do with my ID during the five minutes he was gone?

Then there's the newest appliance in my home—a shredder. I've always torn the mailing labels off of the magazines and catalogs. Now I've simply automated it. Don't want to encourage identity theft. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't even print my signature with this column any more...

To paraphrase the old line, it's funny—but funny "jeesh," not funny "ha ha." Or, to steal another cliche, if I didn't laugh, I might cry.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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