There have been many mysterious, unusual and downright bizarre life insurance claims in the history of this industry. Here, we bring you some of the most controversial, weird and just plain creepy claims, touched with a tinge of desperation. Some cases were presumably committed “in the name of love” and others were more of the “because we’re friends” kind.
Walmart settles “dead peasant insurance” suit
Used for the right reasons, corporate-owned life insurance is a complex form of life insurance that can be an important protection product for businesses. But there is a shady side to this type of transaction, too: Companies who have taken out life insurance policies on lower-level employees with themselves marked as the beneficiary (and, in the past, without notifying employees of the policies) have been accused of arranging for “dead peasant insurance.” These companies have also been accused of exploiting the tax advantages that such policies allowed.
Such was the case with Walmart, which began taking out life insurance policies on their lower-level-skilled employees in the 1990s. They bought around 350,000 policies for employees in the U.S., according to some accounts. It was only when the federal government closed the tax loophole and went after Walmart to make them pay back taxes that the families of deceased employees sued in several states.
One of the suits was settled in 2006 for $5.1 million by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Creep factor: 7
Policies like these are still sold, though the companies are required to have the employees’ consent to take out life insurance on them. The most recent case of the “icks” was reported this year in California at The Orange County Register newspaper.
Father & son, partners in crime
No words can express the desperation, frustration and hopelessness one feels when you have to report a loved one as “missing” to the police. But for Jonathan Roth and his father Raymond Roth from Long Island, that was all part of the plan. The report that his father was missing triggered a massive search by the authorities in 2012.
The younger Roth called a life insurance company three days after reporting that his dad was missing about cashing in on an insurance policy. Apparently, the older Roth had staged his disappearance, spurring his son to attempt to claim $410,000 in policies. Less than a week after being reported missing, the older Roth was issued a speeding ticket in South Carolina.
Both Roths were arrested and have been sentenced to prison this year.
Creep factor: 8
The bond between father and son may go well beyond scientific explanation, but bonding over football seems more harmless than bonding over how they’re going to “fake dad’s death and claim the money.”
Woman helps husband fake his own death
Cemeteries are places of silence, solace and reflection … except when there’s a man digging up the corpse of an 81-year-old woman. This is apparently what Clayton Daniels did in Texas back in 2005: dug up the woman’s body, dressed her in his clothes, burned the body and put it in his car.
Then, his wife tried to collect her “dead” husband’s life insurance policy that totaled $110,000, claiming that he had died, charred, in a car accident. But, surprise! The police performed a DNA test and found that the body was of Charlotte Davis, who had died six months earlier. They also found Daniels alive, in his house, with a different hair color and under a different name. Turns out the couple had committed the crime to cover Daniels’ past as a sex offender.
Creep factor: 9
Was there a memo that said that “thou shalt commit crimes in the name of love”? Both went to jail and the last time this case was on the news, the wife was seeking parole.
Friend chops off other friend’s hand to collect on ad&d
If you’ve watched the horror movie Saw by James Wan, This case would seem to have been inspired, to some extent, on it. We could never even attempt to guess what was going on in this man’s mind when he decided that it would be a great idea to make a quick buck by severing off his friend’s hand. And he did: he used a pole saw to chop it off and then claimed more than $670,000 between a homeowner’s insurance policy and three ad&d policies, along with the amputee and another unidentified man.