I recently watched a commercial about an insurance company that offers guaranteed life insurance if you are between the ages of 50 to 75. To boot, you need not even answer a medical questionnaire.
The ad shows a clip of an elderly couple with their grandchild and grandpa saying something like, "I thought my family's future was really bleak but now with this insurance I'm set. I have lived; let the flood come."
The man almost sounds like Charles' Dickens' Sidney Carton.
A win-win situation if you ever saw one, right?
Now I am a retired lawyer who has sued insurance companies often enough and one thing I have learnt is that insurers do not care to part with their money too readily. I have yet to see a claim falling down some icy steps and the adjustor comes running to my office with his chequebook and says, "We at Mutual Lovable Insurance really feel sorry about this. Here, write out your amount."
And so how can this company do it? I have thought about it and I have come up with the following possible explanations.
The first and obvious one is outrageous premiums. "So you want $1000 dollars worth of insurance. That will cost you 1100."
I don't think so. I can't see some bug eyed statistician telling the marketing V.P. that the insurer would have no problem selling this because according to his scientific calculations and P.T. Barnum, there is one born every minute.
The answer lies deeper.
One scenario is that the company accepts everyone but when a claim is made, it doesn't pay. The scene at the claims office may be reminiscent of that Monty Python parrot sketch, where an irate John Cleese tries to return a recently purchased dead parrot to pet shop owner Michael Palin. Palin of course insists that the parrot is still alive.
Similarly the insurer might question whether indeed the insured is actually dead. I have no difficulty whatsoever visualizing a claims adjustor saying to the policy beneficiaries, "George isn't dead. Look, I just saw him open one eye."
Or the policy might have a very stringent test for death, like in the Wizard of Oz. The insured must be "absolutely, positively, morally, spiritually, ethically, undeniably and unreliably dead".
The insurance company could argue that as there may be life after death, nobody really dies at all and therefore they don't have to pay. While the beneficiaries argue with the adjustor in the kitchen, he could also remind them of the principle of reincarnation and say, "How do you know that the fly on the screen isn't George?"
It's an argument.
Then again perhaps the insurer has a nobler way of avoiding payment. As they only have to pay out if someone dies between the ages of 50 and 75, maybe they have found a secret potion thereby ensuring that their clients in fact don't fold before reaching 75. Now that I think about it I noticed that grandpa in that commercial had a flask of some elixir at his feet. Curious.
And if it's not something you ingest, perhaps the insurer does it voodoo like, as in The Portrait of Dorian Gray. You stay young, your picture ages. The commercial says you don't need a medical. It says nothing about you not needing a photograph.
Finally there is the unthinkable explanation: the insurance company really is out to lunch. They actually do accept applications from some poor 74-year-old soul who is in intensive care with heart failure.
At the annual shareholders' meeting the C.E.O says, "Ladies and gentlemen, this year we paid out death claims totalling 50 million dollars and we took in premiums in the amount of $3511.14. But it's OK. We have succeeded in our main goal; customer satisfaction."
I guess if you believe this one you will also believe in the existence of the Land of Oz; and that that fly on the kitchen screen was George.
It's all a mystery to me. If anyone has the answer, please share.