Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Life Insurance Now a Moot Point


In light of the recent trend in comics events (namely Blackest Night and Necrosha) it seems like no comic book character can stay dead. While this has always been true, now more than ever, the dead are suddenly seeming very lively.



Now, we've talked about insurance a lot in the past. Namely here, here, here, and oh yeah here. We like the topic. Mostly because an industry based on risk assessment in a world where aliens invade every Friday is too ludicrous not to talk about. And if there's one thing we like at Ecocomics, its ludicrous stuff.

But life insurance is another interesting point to deal with. Lets use someone as an example who seems like they're going to live a nice stable life. Let's say we use Jean Grey in the early 80s. So Jean has nice responsible parents who love her deeply. They don't want to think that its possible that their daughter could die, but like responsible adults, they need to plan for contingencies. Especially when their daughter is the kind of person who picks fights with the Living Monolith. So the Greys purchase a plan for their daughter. Then when she gets exposed to solar radiation, possessed by an alien life force, and blasted with a laser on the moon, it's time to collect on their policy.


The Greys then use the money from their daughter's life insurance policy to give their daughter a nice respectable funeral where all of her friends (including the blue elf creature, hairy canadian, and russian metal guy) and her laser blasting fiancee can mourn her properly.

And then the Fantastic Four finds Jean in a cocoon at the bottom of the Hudson River. What happens now? Has fraud been committed? Does the insurance company who paid out for Jean's death get their money back? If so, who pays them?

And this is the confusion that results from only one death. What happens when every mutant in Genosha comes back to life? What happens when every dead person in the universe comes back with a black lantern ring? Granted in both of these cases, people in insurance companies are likely too busy trying to keep the reanimated corpses from devouring their hearts to think about the finer points of this debate. But the debate remains. Theres a lot of folks re-animating and a lot of insurance claims which would seem to now be invalid.

29 comments:

Will said...

There are actual real situations where this issue has occurred. One is John Burney who disappeared in 1976 and reappeared in 1982 (he was presumed dead from an accident where it appeared he fell into a river, but actually slipped out and started a new life) and had a lot of life insurance. The life insurance company filed cases against the beneficiaries and Burney. The beneficiaries won based on some technical reasons, but Burney was found to have committed fraud and was slapped with a civil judgment. Of course, in that case, there was actualy evidence of fraud. For Jean Grey, I don't see how there was any fraud (a coma caused by a sentient cosmic entity placing you in a coccoon in the bottom of Jamaica Bay would certainly seem to imply that she had no intent to commit fraud), so she and her beneficiaries would probably be clear.

Of course, the Jean Grey story is complicated because she actually was just presumed dead, not actually dead (same thing happens in Castaway with Tom Hanks character) - I am ignoring her deaths and resurrections since. In the case of resurrected dead, walking dead, blackest night zombies, etc., I would imagine the legislature and courts would have really complex decisions about defining whether something/someone is living.

Captain Noble said...

I would imagine that policies would begin to have contingencies in them stating that if someone came back to life, any money paid out would have to be paid back or something.

Captain Noble said...

On the dead returning, the thought just occurred to me: what would happen if a futures market developed around this? Would a certain dead person come back? When would they come back?

Hmmm...

Michael T said...

what insurance company in their right mind would insure a superhero?

CRwM said...

In most dead hero cases, the fraud would occur well prior to any resurrection. Unless heroes trusted insurance companies to protect their secret identities from baddies, they' probably avoid tell their insurers that they're superheroes. Companies could claim that failing to mention involvement in such as high risk hobby was fraud.

Would superheroism count as a preexisting condition

Mark said...

All great points gentleman. Will, thanks for that example. Agreed that being presumed dead is far different from being actually dead. But in Jean's case where an entity with the exact same DNA as her lived her life and then died, its a catastrophic mess. Captain Noble, excellent thought about death and resurrection prediction. That would be an entire industry in modern comics. And yes, superheroism is definitely a pre-existing condition. It predisposes you to all sorts of illnesses like symbiote possession and Kree radiation poisoning.

life insurance broker said...

Hey,
I have to praise author of article for great job!Will, it is obvious that you are veery good in this field.
Thank you for interesting article, another great thing which can broaden horizonts a lot.
Elli

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