Jim Porter: Up in smoke – you’ve seen this one before | SierraSun.com
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Jim Porter: Up in smoke – you’ve seen this one before

Here is a phony, but funny fire insurance story, usually told with a lawyer as the bad guy (of course). Not true per urban legends, but who cares.

A man purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against, among other things, fire.

Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company.



In his claim, the man stated the cigars were lost “in a series of small fires.”

The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason, that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.



The man sued and won!

In delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the man held a policy from the company, in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that the cigars would be insured against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable “fire,” and it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss.

Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judges ruling and paid $15,000 to the man for the rare cigars he had lost in the “fires.”

After the man cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the insurance claim being used against him, the man was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governor’s appointee to the Fair Political Practices Commission and McPherson Commission, both involving election law and the Political Reform Act. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or at the firm’s web site http://www.portersimon.com.


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