Insurance

What the Masters can teach us about insurance

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The first golf major of the year, the Masters Tournament is one of the most time-honored traditions in all of sports. 

The major is always played on the same course — Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Winners receive the Green Jacket, a sign they’ve achieved greatness on the difficult course. Pre-tournament events and a Par-3 contest help promote golf among younger players and create a family-friendly environment.

Yet for all its fanfare, the Masters and the world of insurance share several commonalities. Here’s a look at five lessons the Masters can teach us about insurance.

1. Preparation is key.

Augusta National is a tricky course to navigate. First-timers tend to struggle with the especially firm greens, which cause what looks like a great shot to roll past the pin, down a hill and into a bunker. With water and sand traps throughout the course, golfers need to spend significant time preparing for the event between Monday and Wednesday, before Thursday’s tee time makes things official. 

If golfers simply tried to walk up to the first hole and start swinging, they’d most certainly record a poor finish and miss the cut.

Your insurance choices should involve similar preparation. Don’t just go with the first company you come across. Consider the different pricing structures and discount bundles they offer. Look at reviews online. Ask your friends which companies they use and compare options.

Without properly researching and preparing, you might end up paying more than you need to. Or, even worse, you may be stuck with a company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

2. Read the fine print.

The rules at Augusta National Golf Club are quite extensive — the “dos and don’ts” have more prohibited items and actions than allowable behaviors. Cameras are only allowed before Tournament days, and forget about using cell phones or other electronic devices at all.

Of course, golf itself has plenty of rules, both written and unspoken. Spectators should never yell or cheer during a player’s backswing, and it’s always worth double-checking your scorecard. Otherwise, you just might miss your chance at winning the Masters and have to utter a quote like, “What a stupid I am!

Insurance policies have rules, regulations and fine print that might make them a bit tougher to navigate. Travel insurance, in particular, sometimes has vague language around certain types of injuries or instances of lost luggage. An airplane flight is different than a road trip, too. You may find yourself paying extra for travel insurance, only to wind up out of luck should you actually need that coverage.

Similarly, some home and auto insurance policies aren’t always clear. You may have certain types of insurance around inclement weather, for example, which might cover events like hurricanes or earthquakes but doesn’t account for severe thunderstorms.

Always read the fine print on your insurance policy. If you don’t understand what something says, ask your insurance agent to clarify.

3. Your style matters

The Green Jacket may be the most coveted prize in golf. It goes to the winner of the Masters, and though the origin story of the jacket differs, they’ve been manufactured since 1937, and by the same company since 1967.

The jacket is a three-button, single-breasted and single-vent wool blazer, with the owner’s name stitched on the inside label. It’s a classic look with a unique twist, which offers a nice style.

People pay attention when someone walks by in a green jacket, just like insurance agents pay attention to your driving style. If you’ve gotten into multiple accidents or drive in densely populated areas during rush hour, your premiums will likely increase.

Many companies have now added telematics options for drivers. If you tend to slam on the brakes a lot or frequently take late-night trips during the weekends, you’d pay more than someone who barely drives and only uses empty side roads.

4. Don't be afraid to make changes.

The inaugural tournament at Augusta National was in 1934. Since then, there have been ample changes to the course itself. Club officials have reshaped and redesigned greens, they’ve added bunkers, extended water hazards and planted trees and mounds throughout the 18 holes. The changes are designed to address key golf components like playability, spectator comfort and the evolving technology of both golf clubs and balls.

As golf writer Charles Price said, “Augusta National was never the most revolutionary golf-course design in America, but it certainly was the most evolutionary.”

Club officials at Augusta National haven’t been afraid to make changes when the game called for it, and they’ve embraced new technology, rather than shied away from it. Embrace a similar change-friendly mindset with your insurance.

It’s a good idea to look at new insurance options every six months. You may decide staying with your current company makes the most sense, or you may learn you could save money by switching elsewhere.

New technology such as telematics provides a more accurate depiction of driving style and habits and technological advancements will only continue to grow. Those changes will impact both our cars and our insurance, so it’s good to be willing to adapt when necessary.

5. Accept unexpected events

One of the most exciting elements of the Masters is the final round, when a handful of players compete for the trophy and Green Jacket. Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 champion, had finished 19th, 32nd and tied for 13th in his previous three Masters, yet he put together his best rounds last year to overcome the field and win.

For every success story, there’s the flip side of a player having a less than ideal round. From wind knocking drives into heavy rough to an approach shot missing the green and tumbling into the water, golfers must accept there will be some unexpected shots. It’s how they react that defines their success.   

Life throws all kinds of unexpected events our way. Perhaps a bad climate-related event caused a tree to crash through your dining room. Maybe a raccoon snuck its way into your pantry and is wreaking havoc. Or your friend might slip while helping you cook dinner, and because it’s your home, you’re liable for their recovery costs.

However, if you’ve done your research, prepared some emergency savings and can take a step back and laugh when things go awry, then you’ll be okay. And unlike a collapse at the Masters, your misfortune won’t be televised. 

Are you paying more or less than average for your car insurance? Check out our 2022 State of Auto Insurance report.

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Joey Held

As a writer, Joey Held has specialized in business, marketing, sports, music and insurance topics for more than a decade. He's also a podcaster and author of Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life's Relationships. His first car was a Buick Regal with an inconsistent radio but pretty good gas mileage.