When our boys were small, they watched their share of cartoons. Of course, yours truly would be there with them watching Wiley Coyote always trying to catch Road Runner. Our boys always knew it was a cartoon and none of it was real. We never had to tell them “Don’t try and do this”, as they understood strapping a rocket on their back was never going to work. But neither is setting a house on fire in order to collect insurance or get out of debt; yet folks still do it.
It sort of fascinates me how some folks think that they can make financial problems go away by burning their way out of debt. A few gallons of gasoline or an open natural gas line, a flick of a match and their problems go up in flames. It doesn’t work. The carriers do not pay out on arson and it is illegal.
According to our industry publication, National Underwriter, the number of arson fires nationally has been around 20,000 per year for the past 10 years. In 2012 alone, over 300 people died from arson fires.
If it wasn’t for the tragic loss of life, some of these cases would almost be comical. Like the Indiana lady who had mounting gambling debt and left the gas line open causing a huge explosion. Her next door neighbors both died from the blast and seven other neighbors were injured. In January of 2015 the courts in Indiana gave her 20 years in state prison since she turned against those helping her stage the crime.
Another recent case was a California investor who was in serious debt and decided to increase his home insurance coverage, well in excess of its value so he could “make money” off the intended arson fire. Hiring a local handyman, the owner and his helper dumped 70 gallons of gasoline on the home. When the handyman attempted to start the fire it exploded with the equivalent of 1500 sticks of dynamite. The young man died from the injuries and the investor is doing 15 years as the guest of the State.
New Jersey has some of the toughest laws in the country when it comes to arson. Insurance companies will deny coverage even if they “think” fraud is involved and make the insured prove that arson was not the cause. It really is a high price to pay for such a dangerous and foolish act.