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People Top 5
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- May 13, 1974
- Vol. 1
- No. 11
Poor, Dead Fred, the $650 Guppy
The form was carefully filled out: "Age of the insured: six months, weight: 30 centigrams, height: 3 centimeters, good health: yes, in the military service: no, relationship of the beneficiary to insured: owner."
Mazanek expected only to raise an eyebrow or a chuckle at the other end. Instead, the company's computer obligingly issued a policy. Six months later the guppy was still alive, and Mazanek decided to continue his private joke for an additional $11. A few weeks later, Fred Finn died (a guppy's life expectancy is only about eight months), and Mazanek filed his claim.
This time, a human employee of the company noticed the discrepancies, and a vice president hurried to Maricopa, Ariz., where Mazanek now lives, to negotiate. "We argued back and forth for a long time," Mazanek recalls. The evidence, Fred's body (at left), was conveniently nearby, in the family freezer, where it still maintains a place of honor. Finally, Mazanek and the insurance executive agreed to settle for $650 to spare the company further embarrassment. Appropriately, Mazanek and his wife Diane spent the first chunk of it on a lavish dinner in Fred's honor. The main course, of course, was fish.
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