The Man Who Insured his Rare Cigars, Smoked Them All, Then Collected on the insuranceFiction!



Summary of eRumor:
A man bought a box of rare, expensive cigars, then took out fire insurances on them.  When he had finished smoking them, he filed a claim against the insurance company.  The company turned down his claim, but he filed a lawsuit and won, getting $15,000 from the insurance company.

The Truth:

A little too slick to be true, and it isn’t.  No evidence of this case has ever been found and it has been around as an urban legend since at least 1968 when we first ran across it and researched it.

updated 07/06/07

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Only in America…
   A Charlotte, NC man having purchased a box of very rare, very
   expensive cigars, insured them against fire among other things.
   Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of cigars and
   without 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 series of small
   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
   that the claim was frivolous.
   He 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 it would insure against fire, without defining what
   is considered to be, “unacceptable fire,” and was obligated to pay
   the claim.
   Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance
   company accepted the ruling and paid the man $15,000.00 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 previous case
   being used against him, the man was convicted of intentionally
   burning his insured property and sentenced to 24 months in jail and a
   $24,000.00 fine.