To some, the life of an insurance agent isn’t terribly glamorous. People think insurance agents are pretty predictable people who are extremely detail-oriented and organized—sometimes to a fault. However, believe it or not, insurance agents make for great characters in popular movies—perhaps because of their “quirks,” which make them successful insurance agents.
Here’s a look at some of the more popular insurance agent characters that have appeared on the big screen
Ned Ryerson, “Groundhog Day
“NED! RYERSON!” Groundhog Day follows the life of weatherman Phil, played by Bill Murray, who goes to Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney. Phil becomes trapped in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again, forcing him to question his life choices and examine himself. Phil runs into “Ned,” played by Stephen Tobolowsky, who Phil knew as the dork from school, and he is now a life insurance agent.
Now a podcast host and columnist, Tobolowsky wrote an article for Moviefone telling stories about how he’s still recognized by people as “Ned,” and they “indirectly express their love of the film through various Ned-related interactions” with him. Tobolowsky was so convincing about his love for life insurance in the film that a man who shared an elevator ride with Tobolowsky was convinced he was a real life insurance agent.
Memorable quote from the movie: “Do you have life insurance Phil? Because if you do, you could always use a little more, right? I mean, who couldn’t? But you want to know something? I got the feeling...you ain’t got any. Am I right or am I right? Or am I right? Am I right?” – Ned Ryerson
C.C. “Bud” Baxter, “The Apartment”
C.C. “Bud” Baxter works at a large insurance company called “Consolidated Life of New York” and is longing to separate himself from the other 31,259 employees in order to move up in the insurance business. So what does Bud do? He rents out his Manhattan apartment to all of the company executives so they can bring their mistresses there without getting caught.
Bud worked in the “Ordinary Policy Department” and his “true love” must have been insurance in order for him to rent out his apartment and facilitate these bad deeds—especially when it came to letting his boss get away with having relations with his crush.
Memorable quote from the movie: “On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783. If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. I know facts like this because I work for an insurance company.” – C.C. “Bud” Baxter
Tim Lippe, “Cedar Rapids”
Tim Lippe started out as somewhat of a boring character, selling insurance to people who were achieving a lot more in their lives than he was. Lippe was still “pre-engaged” to his 7th grade teacher and has lived in the same small town his entire life. He is comfortable in his quiet life, until he was sent to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to represent his company at an annual insurance convention, where Tim learned about a lot more than insurance. Lippe discovered corporate corruption and the real world
Memorable quote from the movie: “I don’t trust people with pony-tails.” – Tim Lippe
Walter Neff, “Double Indemnity
In Double Indemnity, Walter Neff is an insurance salesman for “Pacific All Risk Insurance Company.” He becomes involved with a life insurance fraud scheme when he has an affair with the wife of one of his clients while making a house call to sell her husband automobile insurance. Together, they come up with a “double indemnity” clause, so she can get twice the normal amount of her claim. Neff hopes they’ll be together forever with her husband out of the picture. But the wife has no intentions of ever being with Neff.
Memorable quote from the movie: “Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money and a woman – and I didn't get the money, and I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?” – Walter Neff
Bob Parr, “The Incredibles”
The Incredibles proves that insurance agents can have a little bit of superhero in all of them. Bob Parr worked at an insurance company called “Insuricare,” where he was bored, miserable and disappointed that he could no longer be the superhero he once was before being a superhero was outlawed. He was fired for being honest with his clients by telling them how to get around the insurance system to get the money they deserved. After defeating the evil villain in the movie “Syndrome,” it’s proven that Parr is a much better superhero than insurance agent—but that’s okay. Not everyone can be a superhero, just like not everyone can be a successful insurance agent.
Memorable quote from the movie: “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for...for 10 minutes?! – Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Reuben Feffer, “Along Came Polly”
Reuben Feffer is your stereotypical insurance agent. He doesn’t like risk or the unexpected. He worries about everything. After finding out his new wife had an affair with a scuba instructor during their honeymoon, Reuben goes back to his life and spends his days calculating risks for other people. Maybe that’s why he has a hard time taking a chance on his crush Polly, who was his friend in school.
Memorable quote from the movie: “I know that I have a .013 percent chance of being hit by a car on my way home. Or a one in 46,000 chance of falling through the subway grate. I try to manage that risk by avoiding danger, having a plan, and knowing my next move. And I guess you don’t exactly live your life that way.” – Reuben Feffer
Truman Burbank, “The Truman Show”
In The Truman Show, Truman Burbank is happy living his seemingly normal and predictable life. He’s an insurance salesman/adjuster with a comfortable home, beautiful wife, a great best friend and everything is always perfect. He has never questioned anything in his entire life – until he finds out his whole world is an ongoing live television show of his life. He’s the star, and all of his friends and family are actors. Truman has to decide whether he wants to stay in the “perfect” world that revolves around him, but with no real friends or family, or take the risk of living in the real world.
Memorable quote from the movie: “Good morning, and in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!” – Truman Burbank
(Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures)