Are you worth more dead than alive to your employer?
Dead peasant insurance is a slang term for a life insurance policy that a company takes out on its employees. When the employee dies, the company collects the death benefits. The worker does not have to die while at the job or even be a current employee for the company to collect this insurance money. He or she just has to die. It is sometimes called dead janitor insurance or by its legal name: corporate owned life insurance, or COLI.
Dead Peasant Insurance-Where did the term ‘dead peasant’ come from?
According to the website www.deadpeasantinsurance.com, the term dead peasant was first used by an insurance company that wrote life insurance policies on Winn Dixie employees. Winn Dixie took out life insurance policies on nearly 36,000 of its employees without their consent and named itself as the beneficiary. As the story got leaked to the press, so did the use of the term dead peasant to describe the Winn Dixie employees.
Dead Peasant Insurance-Is this legal?
As gruesome as it may sound, dead peasant insurance policies are legal. Although a 2006 federal law requires employers to get a worker’s permission before taking out a dead peasant life insurance policy, Michael Myers, who runs www.deadpeasantinsurance.com, says many companies are ignoring that law.
Chicago Public Radio recently reported that Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has introduced legislation that would ban corporate owned life insurance polices on workers making less than $1 million dollars a year.
Dead Peasant Insurance-Can the dead employee’s family get a share of this life insurance policy?
Very often no, as was seen in the recent Michael Moore film Capitalism: A Love Story. Moore interviewed two families who found out their deceased loved ones had dead peasant insurance policies on them. In one of the cases, the employer netted over $1 million dollars in death benefits on just this one employee. The next of kin did not get any of that money. Companies are under no moral or legal obligation to share the death benefits with the family of the deceased.
Dead Peasant Insurance-Am I a dead peasant?
You can ask your boss outright if the company has a corporate owned life insurance policy on your head. It is possible your boss may not know and will need to ask higher ups for the answer. Whether or not you get an answer is another story. The website www.deadpeasantinsurance.com provides a list of companies that are believed to be holding life insurance policies on their employees.