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Warning of a hazard is great, but eliminating it is far better. A well-known mutual insurer, priding itself on its ability to manage customers’ risks, runs a television advertisement that demonstrates how tricky this can be. I thought about their ad while preparing a class entitled, “The Ethics of Risk” for Emory University this spring. How do we ethically deal with risks of loss, hazards, and perils? In the television ad, we are shown a banana peel on the sidewalk — a definite hazard. Then along comes the risk manager, who places an orange cone in front of it. He has warned of the hazard, certainly a good risk practice, but in this case, the wrong practice. What if a blind person tripped over the orange cone? A good risk manager would have eliminated the hazard by simply picking up the banana peel and throwing it away.

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