Subject: Re: Support as insurance
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 14:57:11 -0500

> writes:
>  > A contractor came in and did work.  That contractor left with a
>  > covering their work and the tools they used.  The insurance is here
>  > provided as part of a package deal by the contractor.
> Ahhhh, I see.  We are talking about two different things.  You're
> talking about a warranty on work performed, while I am talking about a
> warranty on the functionality of the software provided.  Product vs
> service.

Pretty muc right.  The contractor also provided a warranty on the tools
used in the work and on audited existing code.  This specifically included
a Y2K warranty on the documented functionality of Perl.  But that warranty
was provided as part and parcel of work done and an audit conducted.

So a bit more was warrantied than just the work the contractor did.
However you are right that the result does not much resemble selling
straight insurance.  And if you wanted to make a company based purely on
the insurance aspect of this, what you would wind up with is closer to
selling liability insurance to companies doing a dangerous job (eg tree
removal) than selling car insurance.  Now such a company could well do
something like provide direct guarantees for specific free products, but
those guarantees would be sold to certified contractors, not to the end
user.  (And said guarantees would likely be backed by support contracts
from companies like Red Hat or LinuxCares.)

I have no idea whether the market could bear such a company today.  Offhand
I doubt the viability of creating one from thin air.  However there might
be an outside chance that an existing insurance company like Lloyds of
London might be able to come to an arrangement with some free software
company/group providing certification/support.  (At issue is that an
insurance company has to start with sufficient financial backing to take on
substantial risks.)

Has anyone here worked closely with insurance companies?  Most of my
knowledge is second-hand so I am not in a good position to separate
plausible from theoretically possible...