Etoilean Term Insurance
"I've got to say, Deadcrown's a pretty terrible name for a small village." Ray tossed her apple core under a hedge as they walked. "I'm assuming some old petty king met a bad end here." The black clad figure next to her nodded. "A very petty one, some king named Wellsworth nearly five hundred years ago. His name was preserved but not the name of his kingdom, which shows you how much any of it mattered." Claus glanced at the signpost marking the village's entrance, which had clearly been repainted recently. "All those squabbles and battles memorialized by a village sign." "Is this where you say something about how Etoile is different, Magistrate?" Ray rolled her shoulder and adjusted her pack. "Seems like hubris to claim that Etoile will leave any more of a mark." "That's not the kind of thing a new Marshal of the Principality should be saying, Ray. At least we'll leave books behind." Claus shook his head before squinting at the village commons. "Something's wrong." The sound of yelling could be faintly heard at a distance. Ray had noticed as well and gave a wolfish smile, a hand on the looped chain at her waist. "Maybe it's my time to shine." "Hopefully not." The Magistrate quickened his pace as the scene on the commons came into view. A number of villagers had encircled two figures, clearly wanting to attack them, but they were being held back by some sort of force. The woman at the center of the circle was chanting, an intense look of focus in her eyes, one palm held to the sky while another level with the earth, her back to a dry fountain topped with a rock, inscribed with runes. The man with her had a sword drawn, pacing the circle while yelling back at the villagers. "She cannot have it!" "Return our guidestone!" "Kill the magician!" The man gave a snarl in response. "You damned country fools are lucky she doesn't kill all of you! Get back!" He waved his sword at the crowd. "We're not stealing a goddamn thing, we were asked to research it!" "Research what, exactly?" Claus yelled over the din, and the crowd turned to see the Magistrate, his bar mace planted in the ground in front of him. Behind the black cape, his Marshal had her spiked chain spinning from a hand, with a gleam in her eye. "Finally, some good news. Send these fools home and we can have a more civilized discussion in the tavern." The man gestured with his blade. Claus glanced at the crowd and raised his mace. "By authority of the Magistrates of Etoile I command this crowd to disperse immediately, on pain of immediate arrest and conveyance to the Etoile Capital City on the charge of state treason. Leave at once." One man stepped forward as though to contest the claim, and the head of a spiked chain smashed into the ground in front of him before withdrawing. Ray shook a finger at the man with her free hand, a wide smile on her face. "No, you don't want to do that, boy." The crowd dispersed, muttering, and the magus at the center of the circle dropped her hands with a sigh. "Not how I expected my first guild assignment to go, but thankfully the cavalry arrived." "Not the cavalry. This is arguably going to be worse." Her companion sheathed his sword and pulled his insignia from his vest, a heavy black iron triangle encircled, on a silver chain. He held the chain out on his palm, insignia hanging loose, in a bow. "Nevertheless, thank you for your aid. Ricar Volenta, Etoilean Term Insurance claims adjuster, at your service, Magistrate." "An insurance adjuster?" Claus raised an eyebrow. "And what business would the fine insurers of ETI have in this small village?" Volenta frowned. "I had assumed your arrival was no coincidence, but I suppose such things do exist." The man pointed at the rock on top of the fountain. "Lord Rutlann is of the belief that this object here is magical, and wishes it insured against damage. My own presence, and that of dear Rigana here, is only in service to due diligence."
Etoilean Term Insurance is a monetary trust formed from the assets of several defunct noble houses after The War of Unification. Formerly a state-backed monopoly, the Principality of Etoile divested itself of its ownership and direct management of ETI, privatizing the concern among a collection of wealthy investors, though the company is still overseen and regulated by the Securities Minister.
Most workers at banks and financial institutions are a staid lot, but the claims investigators and adjusters of ETI are well known to be a more freewheeling crew. Though without the imprimatur of state authority (unlike The Magistrates or the District Commander's guardsmen), insurance contracts signed with ETI allow for great latitude in how a given claims investigator conducts their affairs with regards to the counterparty. In any major incident involving insured property damage or loss of life, an ETI claims adjuster will typically be on site with any local authorities, working to the satisfaction of ETI''s insurance interest, not necessarily aligned with that of the locals.
Etoilean Term Insurance has a chartered mandate to provide inexpensive and reliable insurance policies to all business interests of Etoile, ranging from property insurance (including Power-Wagons), life insurance, and virtually all forms of risk management. An especially common policy is that of manufactory-stoppage insurance, in the event of Power delivery failure; interruptions in the power supply would be hugely destructive to the interests of any consortium were it not for the associated insurance policy.
Etoilean Term Insurance maintains possibly the largest wealth store of any private organization, estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of Florin, used to pay out claims and trigger investment. As an organization holding a public charter, the Florin holds the implicit backing of the Principality of Etoile - it is considered not possible for ETI to become insolvent, barring the collapse of the Principality itself.
The insurance industry was proto-nascent prior to the founding of the Principality; fly by night insurers and banks meant that insurance policies were little more than gambling contracts, depending on the erstwhile insurer and the business jurisdiction. After the War, it was determined that the state would provide insurance services to the new nation as a backstop to restarting business activity. With state-secured backing and comparatively low premium rates, ETI became a state-owned monopoly on the insurance industry, promising safe and secure claims and a steady return on capital investment. In 704, concerns about potential improprieties led to the divestment of the Principality from ETI, privatizing it and selling its ownership stakes on the public securities exchange. ETI remains under charter with the Principality to provide fair and reasonably costed insurance policies to all business interests within Etoile.