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September 22, 2011

Up in Smoke

Having purchased a box of rare, very expensive cigars, a Charlotte, NC, man had the collection insured against—of all things—fire.

Within a month, having smoked the entire stockpile and without making a single premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company.

The man claimed that he had lost the cigars in "a series of small fires." When the insurer balked at paying, noting that the cigars had been consumed normally, the man sued … and won!

The judge ruled that the company had to cover the loss, because it had deemed the cigars insurable and had not defined what it considered to be an “unacceptable fire.” Rather than appeal, the company paid the man $15,000 for his loss in "the fires."

After the man cashed his check, however, the insurer had him arrested. The charge: 24 counts of arson! With his own insurance claim and testimony used as evidence, the man was convicted of intentionally burning the cigars and sentenced to 24 consecutive one-year terms.

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