If you think insurance professionals have it easy, think again. For every healthy, intelligent policyholder who comes through and signs up for a policy to protect his family in the event of the unthinkable, there are still people out there who manage to make the unthinkable... unthinkable. While some accidents are so freaky and unavoidable that they simply cannot be helped, others you can see coming from a mile away if you know the character and intelligence of the individuals involved.
1. Shelly Waddell: Do Not Sell Life Insurance to This Woman
Most parents would do anything to protect their children from harm. And when the choice is helping a friend deliver newspapers or your son and daughter's lives, it's pretty clear what most mothers would pick. However, 36-year old Shelly Waddell of Winslow, Maine, had other designs on Feb. 23, 2011. While allegedly delivering her friend's newspapers, the woman was spotted by a concerned motorist driving with her 10-year old girl and 13-year old boy sitting on the roof of her van. So if you are an insurance professional and you happen to see Ms. Waddell, and she tells you that she wants to take out a life insurance policy on her children, think very hard about writing that one, okay?
2. Chewing Gum Go Boom: Introducing the Bubble of Death
An unnamed 25-year old Ukrainian chemistry student found out what it was like to actually become his chewing gum bubble when he accidentally dipped the gum in an unknown chemical that he had confused with something else. As it turns out the chemical was an explosive, to date unidentified, that relieved the young man of the lower half of his face. Naturally, it killed him, making him one of the most popular recipients ever of the Darwin Awards. While he gets major props for "creative ways to die," the student is not exactly an insurance man's dream come true. Too dumb to live, but shrouded under the veil of being a scholar, no one could have planned for the way this one checked out. Let the payouts begin!
3. Frank Singleton: Paying Your Debt to Society
We're not sure how you would celebrate the joy of getting released from jail, but we know how 21-year old Frank Singleton did it, and it lacked the kind of understanding that the justice system expects from us. It also teaches the insurance pro that some people are just giant walking risk factors regardless of age. At the age where most are getting rate breaks for a clean driving record, for instance, Singleton was getting out of jail when he decided to stop by the facility's parking lot and attempt to carjack a woman's car. Unfortunately for Singleton, the car was a stick shift and not an automatic. Naturally, this foiled the mastermind, and put him right back in the hoosegow in West Palm Beach, Florida. Many wonder what Singleton was thinking when he attempted to steal the car. His best response was that he "didn't feel like walking." Now it all makes sense.
4. Drinking and Driving: The Best Defense
If you have ever attempted what the woman in our next story did, we don't want to know about it. After all, friends don't let friends drive drunk, do they? Well, in case you get any ideas from this, keep in mind that it did not work. The woman was pulled over and sentenced to two months in a Swedish prison for driving while intoxicated. Her case? "Yes, officer, I may have been drunk, but the alcohol was a non-issue for me because I was holding one hand over my eye." (In Swedish, we're paraphrasing, of course.) The woman's little DWI tip, according to her, was to prevent double vision. Nice try, lady. While we're not impressed by the fact that you were recklessly endangering other people, at least you were still sober enough to know that you were wasted. That's got to be worth something, right?
5. Randy Lewis: Buy This Dad a Beer
In Bristol, Tennessee, 43-year old Randy Lewis decided to make a b-double e-double r-u-n, when he realized that he was too drunk for the challenge. Being the responsible father that he was, he decided to use a designated driver. Never mind the fact the DD was his 10-year old son, nor the fact that there were two other children in the back seat. Lewis, undeterred, served as navigator for the boy. And he would have gotten away with it, too, had that pesky kid not crashed the car at 90 miles per hour. No one was seriously injured, but if Lewis's record as a dad were a pair of underwear, there would be a huge skid mark down the middle. When he was booked for drunk driving, reckless endangerment, and child abuse, he posed in his "Buy This Dad a Beer" T-Shirt, while sporting blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit and still floating from the cocaine that was in his system. Move over, Ward Cleaver.
6. Thieves: A Meijer Problem in Grand Rapids
In 2008 at a Meijer superstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a knife thief had just taken off with a nice selection of hunting knives tucked away in his belt when he lost his footing and fell on the knives stabbing his stomach multiple times. While none of the injuries were life threatening, they did slow him down long enough for police to get there and make the arrest. If it is one type of client you have to watch out for in the insurance business, it is the insanely accident prone. We think that this gentleman fits the bill.
7. Charles Cain on Professional Courtesy
On the night of Jan. 22, 2011, Charles Cain, the Hamilton Township Deputy Mayor in the great state of New Jersey, was pulled over and asked to submit to a DWI test. "Come on, you and I both know I'm gonna blow over the legal limit, how about a little professional courtesy," Cain said. When the officer refused, Cain grew even more adamant. "Come on, it's not like I was hurting anyone. I was the designated driver. I was just trying to drive them home." While it was very noble of Cain to watch out for his buddies like that, we've got a feeling that he isn't quite up to date on the concept of the designated driver. The pleas for professional courtesy didn't work incidentally. Apparently, the police of Hamilton Township are all a bunch of hard-asses.
8. Paul Stiller: Cigar or Dynamite?
Paul Stiller and his wife were cruising down the road late one night outside of Andover Township, New Jersey, when he thought it would be a good idea to light a stick of dynamite that he just so happened to have laying around inside the car. The 47-year old then tried to throw the dynamite out the window to see what would happen when he realized, too late of course, that the windows were rolled up. We've never gotten any verification on whether Stiller and wife were intoxicated, but you've got to think something aided them in their fight against good sense and judgment. Miraculously, neither was killed, but they did have something to think about as they healed up in the hospital. So did their insurance agent.
Know any more stories of intelligence challenged insurance clients? Which ones have we left out? Do you have any funny stories of absent-mindedness and bad decision-making that you would like to share? This is your chance to wow us with your knowledge. Sound off below, and please don't do as any of these people do!