Insurance company tells man that he’s ‘dead’

Eric Pfeiffer
December 3, 2012

George Johannesen is dead to Manitoba Public Insurance. Sure, he's still technically alive. But the insurance company recently sent the 59-year-old Canadian a letter declaring that he had died in October.

In a letter addressed to "The Estate of George Johannesen," Manitoba Public Insurance wrote that the 59-year-old Canadian died sometime in October.

"I can't figure it out," Johannesen said of the letter in an interview with the Toronto Sun.

Johannesen's situation calls to mind what Mark Twain told a reporter sent to investigate his demise in 1897: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

And while the letter might seem like a harmless, even amusing, mistake, it has not been without repercussions. For example, after declaring him dead, the insurance company's letter also informed Johannesen that his driver's license had been canceled.

"I don't understand how this could have happened," he told the Sun. "For me to be declared dead, someone would have to present a death certificate. For someone to get that, I guess I must have died sometime in October."

MPI said the mistake did not originate with them but refused to reveal the source of information to the Sun.

This isn't the first time a living person has been declared dead by a company. In February, Arthur Livingston of South Carolina revealed that he had been declared dead for more than three years by Bank of America.

Meanwhile, Johannesen is hoping that he will continue to receive his monthly pension and is working to find out if he will be able to travel outside Canada for the holidays.

Such a result is not as outlandish as one might think. In 2011, Army veteran Jerry Miller said he was struggling to get his government pension and Social Security checks after the U.S. Veterans Administration had declared him dead four times.

"I don't know what could happen now," Johannesen said.