Knowing how you’re going to die would be terrible – for the insurance companies. If people knew for sure they were going to slip away in their sleep, for example, why would anyone bother taking out accidental death protection? But if you knew your fate was to die, say, in a Cuisinart explosion, you’d likely take out a whopping accidental death policy, which, of course, would make it all worthwhile. Either way, the insurance companies would lose money, and we can’t have that.
As it stands, we go through life without an exit strategy, so the insurance companies prey on the statistical possibility, however slight, that we will end our days in a horrid manner – and I don’t just mean under another Stephen Harper government.
Last week, I received a letter from my insurer offering me the chance to double my accidental death benefit for only $10.44 a month. Double! That seemed a pretty sweet deal considering that so far in life I have not died accidentally, meaning the odds increase daily that I will. In short, I’m due.
Trust me, I’ve seen Death lurking – several near misses backing out of parking spaces; almost slipping on gobs of shampoo that my daughter leaves on the bottom of the tub; tangling on the stairs with overfed cats wanting to be overfed some more. And I’ve been accidentally ingesting red meat and ice cream for nearly 50 years.
So I considered upping my policy. But then I noticed a card entitled “Additional Information for Residents of Quebec.” I thought perhaps this would be some linguistic thing, like maybe policy holders weren’t covered if they accidentally died in an English way (line-dancing; drinking wine spritzers; uncomplainingly; etc.).
Instead, it warned that the policy had restrictions and exclusions and that I should review the offer carefully. Apparently, Quebecers need specific reminders to read the small print, which explains why they’ve nearly fallen twice for cockamamie referendum questions.
Being a good Quebecer and English (obedient), I did read the small print and found that there were many situations under which the accidental death policy would not pay out.
For starters, I learned that the policy would end at age 70 – just when I’ll be more likely than ever to have a fatal accident. Seniors are aware of this, which is why they drive so slowly. Not me. When I’m 80, knowing I have only a limited number of days left, the last place I’m going to want to be is in my car. I’m going to get from A to B as quickly as damn possible. And if that means going out in a blazing fireball, I’m willing to take the risk.
But if I’m over 70, there would be no financial gain in my doing so.
There were other restrictions. There would be no payout if I were operating a vehicle while drunk, including any transportation put in motion by muscle power, moving or not. If I were standing in roller skates, drunk, and I slipped, fell and died, I would get no benefits, though probably a couple of laughs. If I were drunk in an office chair and I rolled down the stairs, however, I think I’d be covered. It’s always good to have a plan.
The insurer wouldn’t pay if I died accidentally while committing a crime or taking non-prescription drugs. What about if I were committing a crime and taking non-prescription drugs? Frowned upon.
These restrictions seemed fair enough. But I also would receive no benefit if I inhaled any type of gas, “whether voluntarily or involuntarily.” Let’s just say that if I “involuntarily” inhale gas, somebody better be asking some questions. But more than this, I’m disappointed that I wouldn’t be covered, because I think we all believed in our hearts that, when my death occurred, it would somehow involve gas.
If I die in a commercial plane crash, I would be covered. But I’m not covered if my private jet goes down, which is shamefully prejudiced against people with far too much money.
If my death is the result of civil disorder or war, “whether declared or not,” I’m not covered. This is where I start to worry that the insurers would go all philosopher in the event of any accidental death, for are we not all, ultimately, at war… with ourselves? And ISIS? And our brokers?
In the end, Instead of putting a wager on whether I’m going to die accidentally, I decided I could spend that $10.44 a month on something I could enjoy while breathing, like music or more ice cream. Besides, the way I behave, chances are I won’t be killed accidentally. More likely on purpose.