Reading the Signs

The man stormed into the insurance agent's office in a panic. He needed business insurance and he needed it yesterday.

The broker asked the man, "What is the nature of your business?"

"Nature is the nature of my business," he responded.

He went on to explain that he had recently inherited a large number of animals from a distant relative who lived in the countryside. They were being delivered to his London flat later that day, and he's decided that the best course of action would be to set up a petting zoo in his garden.

"The only issue is one of liability. I need business insurance to cover any potential claims should one of the animals accidentally bite one of my young patrons."

The insurance agent had no problem finding the appropriate boiler plate contract for such a transaction. All he needed to finish up the man's policy was to get a full accounting of the number of beasts who would be taking up residence in the garden behind his flat.

Run a business vehicle fleet that includes heavy goods vehicles? Best go to

"Let's see," said the man, "it's three goats, four chickens, a lamb with a bad limp, and a toothless cow."

"Is that it?"

"Well, there is the matter of the man-eating lion."

"Come again?"

"My relative was a bit dodgy in terms of his sanity, and he put in his will that I was to receive my inheritance if and only if I also accepted ownership of all of the animals, no exceptions. They are required to be kept together as a family."

"That shouldn't be a problem."

"Really? Are you sure? I mean that's why I was reluctant to bring it up until we were well enough along in the process. I'm sure the man-eating lion is going to snack on at least a child or two over the course of the zoo's life."

"Not to worry. As long as you post a sign clearly indicating that the lion is not to be pet, then you've covered your liability. Signs are very important. The difference between a nasty lawsuit and a trip to the barrister's office is often the presence, or lack thereof, of the appropriate sign."

"Well, this is certainly a relief."

"Indeed. So, that's all settled. You have your business insurance covering you from an damages that may be done to the youth of your community due to the petting of three goats, four chickens, a lamb with a bad limp, a toothless cow, and of course, the absolute non-petting of the ferocious man-eating lion."

"Oh, I forgot the chimpanzee."


"There's also a chimpanzee. I forgot to say. Shall you just tack that on to the end of the list?"

"Get out!"

The agent screamed obscenities at the man as he quickly tore up the contract, sending him out on to the street without any business insurance for his zoo. The man was stunned at the quick turnaround.

Then he saw the sign outside the man's office: FLOOR IS SLIPPERY WHEN WET, NO MONKEY BUSINESS.

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved