Xenophobia, the fear of the unknown.
You can call it paranoia or forward planning, either way insurance is the 21st Century’s safety net and it’s big business. Insurance is a multi- Billion per year industry, based solely on the premise of ‘What if…?’ and in the modern world it’s inescapable.
Want a job? Then you’ve got to pay National Insurance. Want to drive? You’ll need insurance for that too. Want to stand on a box, in the middle of the street, shouting at passers-by, about the corruption of insurance companies? Guess what? You’ll need insurance for that too.
But what about those people whose lives are too dangerous or disastrous for insurance companies to profit from? Are they ostracized from society? Are they shunned in the street? Are they stripped and sold for parts?
No, they simply become ‘uninsurable’. The following are some examples of individuals who would probably fit this categorization.
Basic contents insurance will cover you for fire, theft and ‘acts of God’, but is your premium affected if God hates you?
Roy Sullivan AKA ‘The Human Lightning Rod’, a U.S. park ranger in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, held the record for lightning strikes, being struck an incredible 7 times! The chance of getting struck by lightning is 3000-1, so the chance of getting struck 7 times is an amazing twenty-two septillion to one, that’s 22,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000-1.
Needless to say, he couldn’t get life insurance.
Seeing a shooting star is a rare occurrence. Finding a meteorite is even more unlikely. Actually being hit by a meteorite qualifies you as one of history’s unluckiest people. Ann Elizabeth Hodgest of Sylacauga, Alabama holds the distinction of being the only person on record to have been hit by a meteorite.
On November 30th, 1954 she was napping on her living room couch when a grapefruit sized meteorite slammed through the roof of her house, bounced off her wooden console radio and hit her on the arm and hip. She was badly bruised but otherwise OK.
Ms. Hodges donated the meteorite to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. It is currently on display at the University of Alabama.
Few people on the planet can claim to have seen an atomic blast in real life, and of those who have, the majority surviving were scientists watching from a safe distance.
Mr. Yamaguchi has the unique distinction of witnessing two atomic explosions. As a resident of Japan, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business when the city was bombed on August 6th 1945. Surviving by a miracle, he returned to his home in Nagasaki the following day despite his wounds.
He was in Nagasaki on August 9th, the day of the second atomic bombing. Although Mr. Yamaguchi was insanely unlucky during this period of his life, in the end he had the last laugh by outliving the majority of his generation, dying at the age of 93 in 2010.
“The accident wasn’t my fault!” is a phrase car insurance companies hear all too often, but surely after 10 accidents even the most forgiving insurance company would become suspicious. Yet John Child, a British car designer working for Jaguar, has been involved in 10 road traffic accidents in the last decade and has been found innocent in every instance.
Costing him thousands of pounds in repairs as well as numerous cars, Mr. Child has earned himself the title of “Britain’s Unluckiest Motorist”.
He now rides a bike.
Marty McFly: Doc, we better back up. We don’t have enough road to get up to 88.
Doc Brown: Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
You do, however, need insurance. Especially if you’re planning on flying your car into a church.
Unfortunately this isn’t a cut scene from ‘Back to the Future’. This is what happened in Limbach-Oberfrohna in Saxony, Germany on January 26th, 2009, when a motorist missed a turn, careened up an embankment and flew 35 yards through the air before crashing into the roof of a church.
God moves in mysterious ways and apparently so do Volkswagens.
Cats may have 9 lives, but John Lyne puts them to shame.
Known as ‘Calamity John’, Mr. Lyne has suffered 16 life-threatening accidents in his 54 years, ranging from lightning strikes to cave-ins and still lives to tell the tale.
“I’ve had a lot of lucky escapes” states Mr. Lyne. Surely a lifetime of being at death’s door might affect your emotional stability, not to mention your life insurance premium, but Mr. Lyne is strangely pragmatic, “It doesn’t get me down, it’s just how it is”. Here is a short list of some of his close calls:
1. Born with underdeveloped lungs
2. Drank poison as a toddler and nearly died
3. Fell of a horse and cart, run over by a truck and nearly died
4. Struck by lightning and nearly died
5. Almost killed by falling rocks, twice
6. Several nearly fatal car wrecks
7. Several near drownings
8. A severe electrocution
9. Several falls from heights
You can get travel insurance but can you get ‘terrorist’ insurance?
For the ‘World’s unluckiest tourists’, Jason & Jenny Cairns-Lawrence, it might be a good idea to find out.
Apparently not only good things come in threes, as the Cairns-Lawrences have managed to rack up a triumvirate of terror tourism, by being on holiday in New York on September 11th, 2001 (World Trade Center attack), in London on July 7th, 2005 (Public transport bombings) and in Mumbai on 27th November, 2008 (‘Terror attacks’).
“It’s a strange coincidence. The terror attacks just happened when we were in the cities.” says Mrs. Cairns-Lawrence
Is it a strange coincidence? Or just too convenient?
“Take my car, what’s the worst that can happen?” were the last words, the owner of an Pagani Zonda S before his friend crashed the half a million pound car into a telephone pole.
Luckily for the owner, he doesn’t have to foot the £300,000 repair bill, as his insurance covers it.
Aviva, the insurance company in question, are now having to payout the largest car insurance claim in British history.
The driver of the car managed to escape the wreckage unhurt, so the only people hurt by the accident are the insurers.
Strangely satisfying story, isn’t it?
Frane Selak (born 1929) is a Croatian music teacher famous for his numerous escapes from fatal accidents:
Consider him either the luckiest (to still be alive) or unluckiest (to have been so close to death so often) but don’t consider him for life insurance. Mr. Selak’s had his first near run in with death in January of 1962 when the train he was on plunged into an icy river and killed 17 passengers. He escaped with only a broken arm.
The next year, while on a flight from Zagreb to Rijeka, the door of the cockpit blew open and he was thrown from the plane. Nineteen others were killed, but he escaped nearly unharmed after landing miraculously in a haystack.
In 1966, he was on a bus that crashed into a river. Four others were killed, but Selak escaped unharmed.
In 1970, he escaped uninjured after a faulty fuel pump engulfed his car with flames.
In 1973 another of Selak’s cars caught fire, and flames were forced back through the air vents, singeing his hair but leaving him otherwise uninjured.
In 1995 Selak was hit by a city bus, but walked away nearly unscathed.
In 1996 he escaped after driving off a cliff to escape an oncoming truck. He landed in a tree and watched as his car exploded 300 feet below him.
In 2003, things turned around and he won $1,000,000 in the Croatian lottery. Figures…
Sport stars and celebrities have been known to insure specific body parts. Micheal Flatley had his legs insured, Jennifer Lopez her derriere and Charlotte Church her larynx.
But ‘Free Divers’ may struggle to find an insurance company willing to offer ‘Lung insurance’.
One of the more recent extreme sports, sees divers plunging to underwater depths of 400 feet (120 meters) on a single breath of air.
At the 2001 Free Diving World Cup, 15 people suffered blackouts during the competition as their brains were not getting enough oxygen.
So if you want to be on good terms with your insurers, it’s probably best to stick to the shallow end.