Insurance up to Date
by Stephen Leacock
A man called on me the other day with the idea of insuring my life. Now, I detest life-insurance agents; they always argue that I shall some day die, which is not so. I have been insured a great many times, for about a month at a time, but have had no luck with it at all.
So I made up my mind that I would outwit this man at his own game. I let him talk straight ahead and encouraged him all I could, until he finally left me with a sheet of questions which I was to answer as an applicant. Now this was what I was waiting for; I had decided that, if that company wanted information about me, they should have it, and have the very best quality I could supply. So I spread the sheet of questions before me, and drew up a set of answers for them, which, I hoped, would settle for ever all doubts as to my eligibility for insurance.
Question.–What is your age?
Answer.–I can’t think.
Q.–What is your chest measurement?
Q.–What is your chest expansion?
A.–Half an inch.
Q.–What is your height?
A.–Six feet five, if erect, but less when I walk on all fours.
Q.–Is your grandfather dead?
Q.–Cause of death, if dead?
A.–Dipsomania, if dead.
Q.–Is your father dead?
A.–To the world.
Q.–Cause of death?
Q.–Place of father’s residence?
Q.–What illness have you had?
A.–As a child, consumption, leprosy, and water on the knee. As a man, whooping-cough, stomach-ache, and water on the brain.
Q.–Have you any brothers?
A.–Thirteen; all nearly dead.
Q.–Are you aware of any habits or tendencies which might be expected to shorten your life?
A.–I am aware. I drink, I smoke, I take morphine and vaseline. I swallow grape seeds and I hate exercise.
I thought when I had come to the end of that list that I had made a dead sure thing of it, and I posted the paper with a cheque for three months’ payment, feeling pretty confident of having the cheque sent back to me. I was a good deal surprised a few days later to receive the following letter from the company:
“DEAR SIR,–We beg to acknowledge your letter of application and cheque for fifteen dollars. After a careful comparison of your case with the average modern standard, we are pleased to accept you as a first-class risk.”