Christmas Case Study: Scrooge & Marley, PLC

19th-century England, Scrooge & Marley, PLC, was a privately held partnership that ran its business out of a dismal warehouse in the Cornhill neighborhood of London. The “counting house” was started by partners Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley without the aid of outside capital or small business loans.

Marley called the company “a money-changing hole.” A privately kept, covert financial organization that tacked on significant interest fees to every transaction. Fortunately for Scrooge and Marley, Victorian London was free of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Without any restrictions, the company was allowed to issue loans at exorbitant interest rates. Scrooge & Marley was a bulwark of debt-collecting, industrial capitalism, and the partners experienced yearly income increases that were unheard of.

Scrooge’s refusal to make the essential investments in the company, along with Marley’s premature death in 1836, exposed the company to a lot of avoidable dangers. Carrying commercial insurance is one of the most important investments a wise business owner should make to deal with that issue. Let’s look at a few of the specific hazards that Scrooge’s company faced.

All I want for Christmas is a little heat

Scrooge kept a tiny fire burning in his office stove, which was only fed by one piece of coal. He and his lone employee, clerk Bob Cratchit, had no other means of keeping warm. Maintaining a coal-burning fire in the office poses a fire risk. One wayward ember could have completely destroyed the counting-house, as well as Scrooge’s entire enterprise. A minimum requirement would have been commercial property coverage for fire damage, with accurate replacement cost estimates. He would have also benefited from business interruption insurance had the warehouse caught fire, which could have lessened the shock of forgetting which of his debtors had been squeezed dry or not.

Deck the halls with frozen pipes

It was said that Scrooge “carried his own low temperature always about with him. He iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.” Frigid December temperatures, lack of adequate heating, and the substandard insulation of a Victorian warehouse would have created the perfect conditions for water-related property damage. And with the introduction of cisterns came pipes, and pipes in Victorian London were apt to burst. Ironically, the rush of cold water would have brought production to a “freeze.” He would have been covered for water damage if Scrooge carried a commercial property policy. Again, business interruption insurance would have helped, too.

Frigid December temperatures, insufficient heating, and the inadequate insulation of a Victorian warehouse would have created the ideal conditions for water-related property damage. It was said that Scrooge “carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.” Cisterns were followed by pipes, which were prone to burst in Victorian London. Scrooge would have been protected from water damage if he had had a commercial property coverage, which is ironic because the surge of cold water would have “frozen” output. A business interruption policy would have also been beneficial.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Scrooge

Working conditions in Scrooge’s office was extremely chilly. Dimly lighted counting house were ideal for workers’ compensation claims, if such coverage was available at the time. Cratchit would have had numerous opportunities to submit such a claim. First off, he might have developed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of all his repetitive writing. Next, since Scrooge made Cratchit work by candlelight. The warehouse’s inadequate illumination may have contributed to Cratchit’s eyestrain (not to mention yet another fire hazard from the candle). It is extremely likely that Cratchit would require ergonomic modifications to address employment dangers given the furniture, chairs, and desks he was made to utilize. Scrooge most likely wouldn’t purchase workers’ compensation insurance if it were offered, driven by his penchant for saving money and contempt for people.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas accidents

Scrooge didn’t live in isolation despite his best efforts. He had an impact on those who borrowed money from him. His sole employee, and those in his immediate vicinity—and in some cases, those individuals were an insurable risk. As an illustration, it was claimed that Scrooge didn’t shovel or de-ice the area in front of his office since he was the kind of man he was (In fact, Cratchit slid on it several times.) That might have caused Scrooge to face a difficult moral choice. On the one hand, he was reluctant to invest any time, energy, or resources in the upkeep of the area. On the other side, he unintentionally produced a place for the street thugs he detested to amuse themselves. Scrooge might have been held responsible if someone had been hurt. He needed to have appropriate commercial liability coverage in force.

Bah, humbug no more?

Scrooge focused primarily on his own bottom-line profit for the majority of his life. But later on in life, Scrooge underwent a moral conversion. Some claim he had a vision of Christmas. He determined to no longer be the selfish, stingy, and greedy “Scrooge” that everyone detested.

As commercial insurers, we hope that Scrooge experienced a similar shift in his career. He may have at last provided Cratchit with paid time off, a salary that was truly livable, and some health benefits. And perhaps Scrooge, who had been exposing the company to hazards for so long. Suddenly decided to invest in businessowners insurance with coverages that handle the several scenarios described above.

Information on BOP, General Liability, Workers’ Compensation, and Commercial Property underwriting is accessible at Hertvik Insurance Group to help you avoid at least some of Mr. Scrooge’s traps.