The Burning Cigar Insurance Fraud Hoax

The following tale of insurance fraud sounds both amusing and plausible, though somewhat unlikely –


Apparently, a lawyer in Charlotte, NC once purchased a box of extremely rare and expensive cigars and then insured them against many modern perils, including fire.

Over the course of the following month, before making his first insurance premium, he smoked every one of the cigars and then subsequently filed a claim with the insurance company.

In the claim the lawyer cited that the cigars were lost ‘in a series of small fires.’

Naturally, his insurance company refused to pay, stating that he had consumed the cigars in the usual way by lighting them himself and smoking them.

Unbelievably, the lawyer sued the insurance company and won his caseā€¦

When delivering the ruling the judge in the case agreed that the claim was frivolous but stated that the lawyer did in fact hold a policy from the company which expressly warranted that the cigars were insurable and that also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be ‘unacceptable fire.’

Therefore they had an obligation to make good on the claim.

Not fancying a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid out $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars.

Later, however, the insurance company had the lawyer arrested after he had cashed their check.

The lawyer was then convicted of intentionally burning his insured property in 24 cases of arson.

He was sentenced to 24 months in jail and received a $24,000.00 fine!

In fact, the above story may indeed be true in the sense that such a claim may have been successfully made somewhere at some point in time.

However, the specifics mentioned above appear to have no basis in fact and so this particular tale qualifies as a HOAX.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. Jeff S. says:

    I’ve seen this story floating around 100 times. I think the first time I saw it must have been close to 1997. I got it in my e-mail and thought it was awesome – then I found it was a fake.

    Still a great story to tell. I usually just tell it as a joke.

    Cigars Online

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