Insurance up to Date

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Insurance up to Date
by Stephen Leacock
Appeared in Literary Lapses, published in 1910.

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?
A.--Nineteen inches.
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?
A.--Practically.
Q.--Cause of death, if dead?
A.--Dipsomania, if dead.
Q.--Is your father dead?
A.--To the world.
Q.--Cause of death?
A.--Hydrophobia.
Q.--Place of father's residence?
A.--Kentucky.
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."