Friday, October 9, 2015

Liability Insurance Ends Punkin Chunkin

NO PUNKIN’ CHUNKIN’
Since 1986, bored rednecks in Delaware have been tinkering with giant medieval trebuchet devices, catapults, giant slingshots, and even custom-built air cannons with enormously long barrels all to launch pumpkins staggering distances. 
The basic idea of this concept is to launch a pumpkin as high and far as possible. Then, trusted folks on ATVs ride out to measure the distance. Crowds often hit 20,000 in number. These events continued to grow in both the size of the crowds and the power of the machines, as the events were even featured on Myth-Busters and other programs.
But last year they cancelled the event. This year was cancelled, too. Why? The lack of a company willing to write the liability insurance policy ended the raining of pumpkins.
It seems that there was just one lawsuit regarding a serious ATV accident, and that was settled. However, liability insurance for this event had to be a stretch. As fun as “punkin chunkin’” sounds, and it seems like it would be great, insurance companies are not necessary in favor of too much “fun” if that fun will likely lead to injuries and lawsuits.
Liability insurance companies will tell you that numerous and serious claims involving death and serious injuries come from activities involving large, powerful machines, drunkenness, the presence of children and the use of motor vehicles.
Let’s analyze what they may be considering here:
·      Rednecks on ATVs in uneven fields? Check.
·      Large, powerful machines that swing counterweights that can kill? Check.
·      Giant, pressurized air cannons that can explode? Check.
·      Heavy pumpkins falling unpredictably from high in the sky? Check.
·      Is there a better than even chance that many of the yahoos involved in these admittedly fun activities are drinking or even totally drunk? Check.
It is rare for me to come down on the side of insurance companies since I feel like I sue at least one almost every week of my life, but I kind of see their point here. It is reinforced by the names and categories of record holders they list:
Adult Air Category:   American Chunker, Inc.       4694.68 ft.    
Okay, that is almost a mile! This Navy-sized pressured-air-gun shot a pumpkin almost a mile! But, notice that is only one category. In the “Adult Catapult” competition, the “Fibonacci Unlimited II” launched its gourd some 2862.28 ft., or about half a mile. Not to be out done, the “Adult Centrifugal” entry  “Bad to the Bone” hit 3245.58 ft.
Did you notice that there were “Adult” categories? So, yes, not only are children present, they actively compete. These future engineers enter youth categories that even include a “10 and under” class. Even the names they selected sound ominous: “Jersey Devil,” “The Plague,” “Stomach Virus,” and “Colossal Thunder.” (I will the “Snot Rocket” an honorable mention, as well).
So, insurance companies, who watch that profit margin very carefully, have effectively ended the reign--and the rain—of the pumpkins.