Sunday, December 11, 2011

Covering options

In preparation for my trip next week, I needed to buy travel insurance. Since I would be away from Japan for almost three months in total, health coverage was my primary concern along with an extra boost in case one of my 101 connecting flights left me checking airport vending machines for a turkey Christmas dinner.

Hokkaido University sold such insurance packages and so on Thursday afternoon, I skidded across to the appropriate building. With me, I towed one of my friends to act as a translator, all the while assuring her that buying travel insurance was first class practice for writing her thesis, the draft of which was due the following week.

At the appropriate desk, we examined the brochure of options. My type of trip had a choice of three different packages for coverage. Each of these included a set amount for health costs, lost luggage, missed flight and --on a cheerful note-- compensation for death by illness and death by wounding.

The first three of these categories had different maximum amounts, depending on the option you selected. This was all good and understandable; depending on the number of flight
connections you would make, the value of your luggage and your
propensity for tightrope walking without a safety harness, you might
want more or less coverage in these areas. What was rather more perplexing was that while 'death by illness' had the same fixed amount in all cases, you could select different sums for 'death by wounding'.

Now, let us think about the thought process that must go into such a decision. Presumably, it starts as follows:

"Hmm. Yes, it is rather likely I will be stabbed to death in a dark alleyway on this visit."

OK, there are probably circumstances in which such a conclusion is inevitable. However, SURELY most people would CANCEL THEIR TRIP as opposed to thinking:

"I better take out the extended coverage for death by knifing in dark alleyways."

But no! Apparently, there are a whole class of people who, faced with probable death by violent homicide, consider the prudent course of action to take out more insurance.


I kept to the basic level of insurance for this nicety and pocketed the extra cash. Then I spent it. That's how to live, people.


  1. Maybe there are different "death by wounding" levels because one may live a bit longer under different wounding scenarios. So that in your time left, you could use the money for gambling, crack or whatever.

    Stabbing in a dark alley = 2-3 hours before death.
    Nibbled by rabbid kittens = 2-3 days before death.

  2. I think that is the only possible explanation. Get seriously wounded, file a swift insurance claim, whip out your credit card and head to Vegas. Unconventional, but what a way to go!