Vending Machines for Plane Crash Insurance


Remember airport life insurance kiosks? Airport terminals used to have vending machines where passengers could buy life insurance policies before boarding. The machines accepted quarters and dispensed an insurance policy, which the buyer would fill out and deposit in an envelope addressed to the beneficiary. The insurance policy expired the next day.

Source: StraightDope
Woodrow Wilson bought the first flight passenger policy in 1919.

This is a brilliant business model! Airplane accidents were uncommon, but planes were new and intimidating enough that the media made a big deal every time an airplane crashed. As a result, passengers thought they were taking a very real risk every time they flew. Plus, dying in a fiery crash is easy to verify, so there was little opportunity for insurance fraud.

Airplane accident insurance companies had one of the lowest loss ratios in the industry.


Over time, people realized that airplanes didn’t actually crash all that much, so passengers stopped buying accident insurance at the airport and now we waste our money on duty free shopping instead.

Insurograph machine. Floyd Bennett Field I think. 1946.
Insurograph machine. Floyd Bennett Field (I think). 1946.

See Also:
Airplane Trip Insurance, 20 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 346 (1963)

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