You’re covered! Even for the dumbest acts
Research by protection specialist LifeSearch shows that, even for the most bizarre deaths, life offices will still pay out.
Life cover is frequently a very solemn business and the issues dealt with are always emotive. However, occasionally some deaths defy all logic and basic common sense to such a degree that it may seem very unlikely that a life office would pay out.
LifeSearch uncovered some of the most jaw-dropping, dumb reasons for expiring around the world and found that, as long as there was no non-disclosure or participation in a criminal act, the life office would have actually paid the claim in the UK.
Incident 1: In 1993 Robert Overacker decided to challenge the 180-foot Niagara Falls. His plan was to ride a jet ski downriver and over the edge, where he would jump away from the vehicle while plummeting into the abyss. As he sprang from the seat a parachute would automatically detonate and he would be able to safely float down to the river below.
Robert had been planning this stunt for several years. He was filmed leaping from his ski at the brink of the falls where the parachute detonated. Unfortunately, it wasn’t tethered to his body. The parachute landed safely in the river below, but Robert didn’t.
The life office says: the claim would be paid. However, if his occupation or hobby was a stuntman, or if he were planning the stunt when taking out cover, then an exclusion may have been applied. It is possible he would need a permit to do this and, if it was a criminal act, no payment would be made.
Incident 2: In Oregan, USA in 2001 a local man lost control of his Toyota truck, which careered into a mailbox and flipped onto its side, knocking down high-voltage power lines.
At that point, the motorist climbed from the truck and surveyed the situation with a pair of pruning shears in his hand. He reached up to clip the snaking cable lying across his truck and was electrocuted when the shears touched the 7500-volt cable. He was found face-down on the power line with the pruning shears still in his hands. His dazed passenger survived, only to be arrested on an unrelated warrant.
The life office says: as long as there was no non-disclosure and he wasn’t doing anything illegal, like drink driving, then it would be paid.
Incident 3: In 2002 a farm keeper from São Paulo, Brazil decided to remove a beehive from his orange tree. He didn't know exactly how to proceed, but he knew the hive should be burned and he knew bees sting. So he protected his head with a plastic bag sealed tightly around his neck, grabbed a torch, and went off to fight the bees.
His worried wife went to look for him a few hours later, and found his body. However, it wasn't the bees that killed him. The plastic bag had protected him from smoke, stingers and - oxygen! He had forgotten to add breathing holes.
The life officesays: this would be paid.
Incident 4: In 2004, two Taiwanese university students, in an effort to impress a female colleague, agreed to ride their motor scooters at each other in a high speed ‘joust’, and the one who didn't turn away would win the exclusive right to pursue the girl. Obviously both were very keen on her, because neither of them turned away. Their scooters fatally collided head-on at 50 mph. The girl at the centre of the rut refused to comment, other than to say that she "wasn't interested in either of them."
The life office says: the claim would be paid.
Incident 5: In 2002, a young man chose to play in a dangerous natural Hawaiian waterspout called the Halona Blowhole, which is a rock funnel formation that shoots seawater 20 feet into the air. A locked gate keeps people away from the stairs to the blowhole and a warning sign proclaims: ‘Hazardous Conditions. Do Not Go Beyond This Point.’
Saying he wanted to feel the water hit his chest, dozens of people watched in amazement from a highway overlook while he straddled the blowhole, arms outstretched, laughing while spray washed over him. Then a large wave hit the rocks, and a blast of water launched him five feet into the air and dropped him headfirst into the blowhole. Divers recovered his body the next day.
The life office says: the claim would be paid although, fortunately, we rarely see claims of this type.
Matt Morris, LifeSearch Policy Adviser, says: “As long as there is no non-disclosure (e.g. failing to disclose a dangerous occupation like stuntman) or participation in a criminal act (e.g. trespassing), the five cases of accidental death would pay out, regardless of the obvious danger or foolishness of the person’s behaviour. If you decide to get up one day and do something incredibly dangerous or dumb, you’re still covered.”
“This goes to show that life offices do pay out in the vast majority of cases, even in situations where you may at first think they wouldn’t. Life cover is actually a very reliable product.”