Ye Gods Insurance Agent to a Claimant, 787 CE

Please consult your plan scrolls for exceptions.

Dearest Mr. Johnathan Haraldson, or more likely, the most esteemed clergyman tasked to read these markings to him:

Thank you for submitting your claim to Ye Gods Insurance. Unfortunately, your policy states quite clearly that “Acts of God” are not covered. Rather, your policy very clearly covers only “Acts of the Devil” and “Acts of Man.” After consulting with your barber, we have determined that your claim of hacking cough has been caused by an increase in Yellow Bile brought on by winds blowing from the south. This is most certainly an act of God, and as such we must sadly deny your claim.

Had your cough been brought on by too much blood, this would certainly be considered an act of Man, since we can only assume that a rival had planted something in your field that increased the amount of blood in your wheat. Furthermore, a stab wound could be considered an act of man, unless it was administered by the King, in which case it would clearly be an act of God, for which you would actually pay his majesty for the honor of being penetrated by a holy instrument.

Finally, in regards to your query of a shadowy figure approaching you as you tended your crops and temporarily blinding you and raiding your house: we must deny this claim as well. Since you were not stabbed in the eye, we must conclude that this was not a work of Satan, but one of his lower demons. Your policy does cover attacks by lower demons, but only if the ailment is permanent. Since you have regained your vision at the hand of the most holy St. Patrick, we must deny your claim. Obviously, when the child is born we will be able to tell if your wife was indeed impregnated by this devil, and we will process your third claim pursuant to those findings.

Yours most humbly,

Abraham Glazer

Insurist and Loanant

Ye Gods Insurance Guild

Analysis:

This earliest known evidence of insurance companies was made available to the public during a 1997 Christie’s auction of Bob Dylan’s private letter collection. The buyer, one Henry Kantrowitz, was initially interested in the letter only because it had belonged to his favorite folk singer and poet.

He suspected that Dylan might have scrawled an early version of the song “Blowin’ in the Wind” on the back. When he discovered the back of the letter was blank, he angrily threw it into the garbage, where his inscrutable cat Millie discovered it and recognized its true value as an historical artifact.

Scholars have noted that the claimant really did have an awful insurance policy, and probably did not have his clergyman read him the fine print or he never would have signed up for it. Almost all insurance policies of the Middle Ages did include coverage for “Acts of God,” since pretty much everything–from floods to fires to what was for breakfast–was considered divinely ordained. And everyone knew the Devil was too busy to get directly involved in human affairs.

The best insurance companies, including Westman Family Insurance and Geico, specified that claimants must provide police evidence of God’s involvement–interviews, hastily done drawings, etc.–in order to get full reimbursement.

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