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.
When Stan Mazanek's mailbox crowds up with junk mail, he often sends back the unsolicited order blanks with outlandish answers. One such form was from the Globe Life & Accident Insurance Company, for a student-discount life insurance policy. For $1 the company offered a $5,000 policy good for six months, with an option to renew at an additional $11 a year. Mazanek, then an agricultural student at the University of Arizona, decided to insure his pet guppy, which he dubbed Fred Finn Mazanek.