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You used to be able to buy life insurance for 25 cents at YVR airport

25 cents went a fairly long way
An insurance vending machine like the ones that used to be at YVR airport in Vancouver

Did you know that the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) used to have life insurance vending machines from which passengers could purchase last-minute insurance right before boarding their flights?

It’s true.

The machines were first installed by an insurance underwriting company in 1951.

At that time, for every quarter you plugged in the machine you’d get $5,000 worth of life insurance. The maximum you could initially buy was $25,000 worth for $1.25, and that eventually went up to a $75,000 maximum.

You were insured for “accidental loss of life, limb or sight and other injuries” on flights.

Pilots' associations lobbied against the machines for years, after a number of insurance frauds were perpetrated and they feared that selling insurance like this encouraged the sabotage of flights.

In fact, in the United States, there was a case where a man confessed to buying insurance from one of these types of machines at the Denver airport, then bombing the plane that his mother was on by putting an explosive device in a wrapped Christmas gift she brought on board.

Forty-four people died as a result of Jack Gilbert Graham's bomb. He was tried and convicted, then a few months later was executed.

In 1968 the machines were effectively banned from YVR after they opened a new terminal, and they haven’t been seen since.