There's a statistical theory that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they'd eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. Thanks to the Internet, we now know this isn't true.
- Ian Hart
As you know, the Internet can be a fascinating and frustrating place. Someone once said that finding something on the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hose. If you Google the word insurance, you'll end up with over two hundred million hits. At least that's how many you'll get today... Who knows how many you'll get tomorrow.
You're obviously an above-average Internet user, because you've found your way to the e-Insure Journal. Most of this website is devoted to some pretty serious stuff. After all, insurance isn't exactly a laugh-a-minute business. Even so, the Internet will yield occasional tidbits about insurance humor, trivia, and oddities. If you Google insurance humor, you'll still get nearly four million hits. Trouble is, you have to weed through a lot of not-so-funny stuff to find the real gems. So, to save you some time and effort, we're going to share some of what we found during just such a search. Keep in mind that if it's on the Internet, it must be true. Or at least funny. Right?
We'll let you decide.
Many of the websites devoted to the lighter side of insurance feature the now-classic funny showing things people actually wrote on their automobile insurance claim forms. To refresh your memory:
- The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
- I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced off the roof of my car.
- Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have.
- In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
These purported "real" claims were widely circulated on mimeographs (remember them?) and photocopies years before they made their way onto the Internet. Even so, they're always good for a chuckle. One website also features some nifty photos from insurance claims. It's worth a look.
With a little more digging, you'll uncover some insurance jokes. A few bear repeating here:
- Larry's barn burned down and his wife, Susan, called the insurance company. Susan spoke to the insurance agent and said, "We had that barn insured for fifty thousand, and I want my money." The agent replied, "Whoa there, just a minute. Insurance doesn't work quite like that. An independent adjuster will assess the value of what was insured, and then we'll provide you with a new barn of similar worth." There was a long pause, and then Susan replied, "If that's how it works, then I want to cancel the life insurance policy on my husband."
- Private Jones was assigned to the Army induction center, where he was to advise new recruits about their government benefits, especially their Serviceman's Group Life Insurance (SGLI). It wasn't long before the center's Lieutenant noticed that Private Jones had almost a 100% record for insurance sales, which had never happened before. Rather than ask about this, the Lt. stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones's sales pitch. Jones explained the basics of the SGLI to the new recruits, and then said. "If you have SGLI and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don't have SGLI, and you go into battle and get killed, the government has to pay only a maximum of $6000. Now," he concluded, "which bunch do you think they are going to send into battle first?"
- A lawyer and an engineer were fishing in the Caribbean. The lawyer said, "I'm here because my house burned down, and everything I owned was destroyed by the fire. The insurance company paid for everything." "That's quite a coincidence," said the engineer. "I'm here because my house and all my belongings were destroyed by a flood, and my insurance company also paid for everything." The lawyer thought for a moment, but was puzzled. Finally he asked the engineer, "How do you start a flood?"
- An actuary, a lawyer and an accountant are discussing the relative merits of having a mistress or a wife. The lawyer reckons it is better having a mistress, because the wife can take everything if you should come to a divorce. The accountant reckons it is definitely better having a wife, from a taxation perspective. The actuary reckons it is better having both, because when you are not with the wife, she thinks you are with the mistress, and when you are not with the mistress, the mistress thinks you are with the wife, and that way, you can spend more time at the office. (You may have to work in the insurance business, or actually know an actuary to get that one!)
If you keep searching, you'll find some supposed "strange but true" insurance stories and other accounts of "real life" insurance humor. Like these:
- Some guy named Brian Calen claimed to have been blinded four different times in the same eye. He filed claims in 1988, 1992, 1997, and 2002, collecting over $1 million before being caught and charged with insurance fraud and grand larceny.
- And then there was the unfortunate man in Switzerland who filed a claim for smashing through his own back car window. He parked on a hill and forgot to set the parking break. When he got out of the car it started rolling down the hill. He chased after it. The car abruptly stopped when it hit a curb, but he didn't-and ended up in the back seat with several cuts and bruises.
- In 1945, a headless chicken from Fruita Colorado was insured for $10,000. Enough of the brain stem was left after beheading that the chicken could still walk around. It toured various freak shows around the country for a year and a half before it finally died somewhere in Arizona.
- Lloyd's of London began operation in a coffee house owned by Edward Lloyd. Lloyd himself had nothing to do with insurance, but his name is still associated with it over 300 years later.
- Bumper sticker on back of car: "Insured by MAFIA. You hit me. We hit you."
- Another bumper sticker: "Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?"
- The company that provided insurance for the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego was the same one that covered the maiden voyage of the HMS Titanic. No wonder Dole lost to Clinton!
- And how about the lawyer in Charlotte, NC who purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars and insured them against fire, among other things. Within a month he smoked his entire collection of these great cigars. Before making his first premium payment on the policy, he filed a claim with the insurance company stating that the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued....and won! Rather than go through a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars in the "fires." However, after the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine.
If you still have time and energy left, your search will bring you to a number of odd things that have been insured. For example:
- Abbott & Costello took out an insurance policy to cover themselves financially in the event of an argument between themselves.
- People can buy insurance to compensate for any losses incurred by alien abduction—including unwanted probing and impregnation.
- Cutty Sark Whisky insured against anyone collecting a one million pound prize for capturing the Loch Ness Monster.
- A grain of rice was insured for 13,000 pounds because it had engravings of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on it.
- A transvestite performer in the U.K. had his (her?) breast implants insured for 300,000 pounds.
- Not to be outdone, Dolly Parton insured her breasts for $600,000, or so the rumor has it.
- Betty Grable insured her legs for $1,000,000.
- So did someone named Johnnie Collier, better known as Ann Miller.
- So did Mary Hart, hostess of Entertainment Tonight.
- Poor Fred Astair's legs were insured for a mere $75,000 apiece.
- Former Charlie's Angel, Kate Jackson had a leg up on the competition by insuring hers for a whopping $8 million.
- Bruce Springstein insured his voice for $6 million.
- Some food critic in England insured his taste buds for 250,000 pounds. Guess that's one way to insure good taste. (Ba-dum-bum. - Ed.)
- Finally, silent film actor Ben Turpin (cross-eyed performer in "Saps at Sea" and "Make Me a Star") took out an insurance policy for $20,000 in the event that his eyes should ever become UNCROSSED. He says he did it as a joke, even so, he is known as the first famous person to insure a body part.
Saving the best for last, Homer Simpson's insurance-form justification for purchasing Dimoxinil (a hair restorer): "To keep brain from freezing."
Hope your brain didn't freeze while reading this. Now get back to work.