Just looking at the dismemberment breakdown in my Accidental Death and Dismemberment policy. It’s not the kind of thing I read everyday, but still, it’s kind of entertaining in a grisly way. Losing an arm, say, or a leg is good money. Losing both is better money. Even better if the arm and leg are on different sides of the body. I remember reading in a book about the Civil War that General John Bell Hood lost an arm on one side, a leg on the other. They had to strap him to his horse. That always seemed kind of pathetic for a big, tough Texan like John Bell Hood. I also read somewhere that he died after the war in one of those yellow fever epidemics New Orleans was notorious for. That would have been worth less money, dying from yellow fever, than losing that arm and that leg. But of course he lost that arm and that leg in a battle, well, two battles. Hood always liked to be in the thick of things. But his Accidental Death and Dismemberment policy would not have covered either amputation. Gotta read the fine print…no wars.* He should have thought about that before galloping like a fool headlong into the fray. He had to rely on veterans benefits, if they had those back then. Well they did, or would have, except he was on the losing side. No veterans benefits for them.They lost their country, their peculiar institution, and their veterans benefits. All they had left was Dixie, and you can whistle that till the cows come home and you ain’t gonna get a penny. Look before you leap, I say.
Those Accidental Death and Dismember plans–AD&D in the trade–really get into the details. You make a few bucks losing a finger or two. A thumb is a bit better, being all opposable and everything, and losing a hand better still. Same goes for toes and a foot. But those are still chicken feed compared to having the whole arm or leg lopped off. Losing both really does cost the insurance company an arm and a leg. They must hate that. The rep would be in the operating room, if he could, trying to sew the things back on. OK, maybe not. But it’s a considerable pay out nonetheless.
The policy gets a little weird above the neck. Loss of speech, hearing, vision and maybe even smell (I don’t have the policy in front of me) are covered. You lose just one eye or one ear you earn some pocket change. If you lose one ear and one eye–one of those how the hell did I do that things–you get a better deal. They list all these in the policy, and all the other body parts, with the pay out for each. They run down the page in declining value. Dying is winning the Super Lotto, of course, the big wazoo of AD&D. That first D is what you aim for if considering your prospects in an accident from a strictly financial point of view. The arm/leg thing comes next, then an arm or a leg all the way down to a measly finger. You look at your finger and realize how little it’s worth. It wiggles back, showing you what it can do.
OK, this essay is getting under my skin. And that skin isn’t worth anything, insurance wise. So I’ll stop right here and leave you, dear reader, free to go watch Dexter. Personally I can’t watch Dexter. I find it disturbing and disgusting and wonder what is wrong with all you people. Then again, Dexter the serial killer is giving his victims the big wazoo, insurance wise. I doubt they’d appreciate that, however. Besides, they’re all bad guys and bad guys never have life insurance, so never mind.
* Actually John Bell Hood would have known all this too well, since he was the president of a life insurance company after the war. Imagine that. The company was ruined by the yellow fever epidemic that killed him. Killed him, his wife, a kid or two, and left a mess of orphans. Ironic now, tragic then.