General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Is a life worth $50,000?

Asked by elbanditoroso (15307 points ) June 13th, 2014

Today’s news reports that Malaysian Airlines is paying out insurance to the families of the passengers that ostensibly died on flight 370.

Payments are $50,000 per passenger.

Too much? Too little?

Would you accept it?

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38 Answers

ucme's avatar

Let me see, that’s roughly £30,000, not much for a life but more than enough to invest in a quality headstone. A place to lay flowers & remember a loved one, gives closure at least.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

There is NO amount of money that could replace the loss of a beloved family member. However, the only reason one could accept the amount would be to sort out issue the deceased may have left behind, help raise remaining children or whatever else the family may be facing. It would never be compensation for my loss!

flip86's avatar

I say $50,000 is too much. $10,000 seems more reasonable.

ragingloli's avatar

How much would 30 shekels of silver in today’s currency?

jca's avatar

If I were a family member, I would much rather have some answers instead of 50k.

I think 50k is not enough. I think a million per passenger is sufficient. If the airline doesn’t have enough to cover that, they should declare bankruptcy.

flip86's avatar

@jca A million? Give me a break. Events like this are quite rare. It sucks for the families but people die all the time, all over the world, and families get nothing. Like I said already, $50,000 is too much.

Wealthadvisor's avatar

Each persons life has a different human life value. It depends on a persons, age, earnings, support of children, amount in savings, assets, tax bracket, ect.

The human life value calculator helps you assess the financial loss a family would incur if he or she were to die today. The calculator provides only a rough estimate of a human life value, which can factor into how much insurance one needs.

After calculating a typical lifetime income based on specific circumstances, you’ll see a final number that gives an approximate measure of net contribution to a family—a human life value. This should not be considered a comprehensive assessment, as it only takes generalities into account.

http://www.lifehappens.org/insurance-calculators/calculate-human-life-value/

For example, a 30 year old making $75,000 a year has a human life value of over 3 million dollars. First you are replacing the earnings potential of the individual. $75,000 a year for 35 years is about $2.6 million dollars, then you factor in inflation, loss of Social Security benefits, and loss of retirement accounts and ability to invest or save.

This human life value is the top number. You can adjust this value by determining how long the surviving family members would need or want to calculate. Some may feel that 10 or 20 years of income replacement is sufficient, while other may want to calculate the full 35 years.

Here is another calculator that goes into more detail.

http://www.hdfclife.com/financial-tools-calculators/human-life-value-calculator

In my opinion $50,000 is very low.

Pachy's avatar

@ZEPHYRA, you took the words right off my keyboard! Agree totally.

marinelife's avatar

Life is priceless. No amount of money can compensate for that loss.

jca's avatar

@flip86: I was asked for my opinion and I gave it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@marinelife – so to be clear – if a loved one died in a plane crash and the airline wanted to pay you $50,000 – you would not accept it. Is that right?

GloPro's avatar

Now we’ll all be signing waivers that give up liability because we acknowledge flying is dangerous and we could die.

I think $50k is fine, maybe a tad low. I feel a million is too much.

Judi's avatar

In some cases that wouldn’t even replace one persons income for a year.

Seek's avatar

@ragingloli

Well, a shekel is about 11 grams. That’s about 2.5 shekels to the ounce. Spot price of silver is USD$19.60 so…

USD$235.00
About 174 Euros.

Jesus went cheap.

marinelife's avatar

@elbanditoroso Right. $50,000 would not even be a year’s salary. What about lifetime earning potential?

Khajuria9's avatar

Not even in the slightest.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I agree with @ZEPHYRA as well. Any monies received are for handling practical matters or for the deceased family members, children, spouses to “ease” things a little, provide whatever needs might be present for the survivors financial circumstance, but, no amount of money will compensate for such loss. I too think a minimum of several hundred thousand, at least, is not unreasonable.
A spouse or children that lose their main breadwinner are facing extreme financial adversity.

Judi's avatar

There are actuaries that figure this all out when considering insurance losses. This would NEVER go over with an American airline for the exact reasons @Coloma spelled out.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

“152 of the 227 passengers were Chinese citizens, including a group of 19 artists with six family members and four staff returning from a calligraphy exhibition of their work in Kuala Lumpur; 38 passengers were Malaysian. The remaining passengers were from 13 different countries.[211]”

I doubt that all of the passengers on board Malaysian Airlines flight 370 will be found by actuaries to be worth $50,000.

Coloma's avatar

@Dan_Lyons If that proves to be true it would be complete BULLSHIT!
Regardless of race or country, surviving family members need to be compensated for their loss of income. Even a couple hundred k doesn’t go far if someone needs to return to school, support a family while seeking better or new employment period.
I had a 300 k life insurance policy on my ex husband as a stay at home mom when my daughter was small.

No way could I have survived had my ex died without at least 5 years of living expenses in the bank while I found sustainable work and paid for daycare costs.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Yes @Coloma it would be complete BULLSHIT! And yet this is the kind of bullshit governments worldwide (including the US) have been more and more openly displaying.

ragingloli's avatar

Like the belief that one american soldier is somehow worth five middle easterners.

CWOTUS's avatar

To put things in some perspective, $50,000 is valued differently by different people in different places.

By way of illustration, my employer is present on several utility boiler construction projects in India (not directing or supervising the work, but assisting the contractor with equipment handling, sequencing, erection techniques, welding procedures, etc.). The safety record for Indian construction is horrible, by Western standards. Our company has, in fact, forbidden our field representatives from proceeding on access platforms and other parts of the boiler – including most temporary access ladders and scaffolds – which are not erected in accordance with the international standards we see in most other parts of the world. (We have made it clear in this way to the client that it’s not a case of our representatives being “afraid to work”; we take the decision out of their hands if standards are not met. Our reps face severe discipline, up to and including termination, for violating our safety rules, which gives them an incentive to be safe aside from their own personal safety and comfort.) The Indian workers do not have the same right to refuse to work in unsafe areas, and a lot of bad practice has led to several of the sites having multiple worker deaths.

When we meet periodically with the client at progress meetings, we make “site safety” an agenda item, and frequently exhort the client to insist that its contractors pay more attention to doing work “better” in terms of safer conditions all around. We point to the horrifying (to us) and growing death toll on the sites and explain that India is the least safe market in which we operate.

The client, on the other hand (who pays an average of about $1500 to the families of accidental death victims), sees things differently. “Seven deaths on the project? But the project is nearly complete, in any case it is far past the halfway point, and we had budgeted for eighteen fatalities! We are doing remarkably well!”

Blondesjon's avatar

No, it is not worth it.

That’s more like winning the most tragic lottery prize ever.

Blondesjon's avatar

great story. scared the shit out of me when i was 11.

chyna's avatar

Since no one knows what happened to the plane, why is the airline paying out as if they are at fault?
It could have been a terrorist, an alien encounter, anything.
But to answer the question, it would depend upon my situation. If I could take care of myself and family without the money, I wouldn’t take it. If I was a mother with a small child or children and needed the money to survive and put food on my table, I would take it.

johnpowell's avatar

They are paying because this is a hell of a lot cheaper. If the plane is ever found and the airline is at fault this will be a tremendous bargain.

jerv's avatar

$50k is an insult! That’s one years income for me, plus the cost of a decent funeral. What would my wife live on for the next ~30 years? According to @Wealthadvisor‘s link, it’d take ~$1.3m to compensate my wife for actual damages (it’s only that low because I have a little life insurance), and doesn’t even get into compensation for the emotional damages of losing a loved one.

I understand that it’s expensive for them to pay out hundreds of such claims, but it’d take at least ten times that before I would consider it at least a good faith effort.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

$50,000 is too much, in my opinion. It isn’t the value of a life that is in question, but the degree of culpability of their airline. So far there has been no definitive evidence that indicates the airline to be at fault. Therefore they should not be paying out such a large figure. Maybe $15,000 to cover the costs of a memorial service would be more appropriate. To put a monetary value on the pain and suffering of the families is impossible, and really quite a vulgar idea. And since it is unlikely that the airline is at fault, it is not their responsibility to do so.

@jerv Do you really expect the airline to compensate to that extent? If your family is that financially dependent on your income, surely it becomes your responsibility to take out more comprehensive life insurance? Say you were in a fatal car accident, and the wreckage was so bad that no party could be determined to be “at fault”. Would you expect the family of the other driver to pay your family ~$1.3m?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

^^^^ Apparently the airline feels it is quite culpable, at least to the tune of $50,000 per victim.

jerv's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I am operating under the assumption that the settlement contains a clause prohibiting legal action if it turns out later that it was the airline’s fault.

And as the sole provider for the moment, and having spent most of my adult life providing at least 60% of the household income, yes, but part of why I am even able to provide is that I don’t spend half my income on the life insurance that would actually provide that coverage. Financial security is a privilege that I’m not rich enough to have earned despite being better off than over half of all Americans. Like most people, what I need is considered a luxury I can’t afford.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@jerv Fair enough. Perhaps such a clause requires a margin to make it a palatable proposition to the families. In my response I was operating under the assumption that the airline was not culpable, since from the evidence I am aware of, that is the overwhelmingly likely outcome if a conclusion ever is reached.

I am not familiar with the financial structures in the US, so I’m not sure how much life insurance would cost you. I understand that it isn’t possible for many people. I pay $120 a month for income protection and TPD insurance, but since I do not have dependants, I have not priced life insurance. Granted that is quite a bit of money for me, but I budget for it before any of my other expenses, because I regard it as a necessity.

jerv's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Since the $240/month I pay for medical insurance doesn’t prevent me from racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills (which would be tens of thousands without that medical insurance), the $160/month (minimum) that a $1m coverage would cost would cut into rent money after wiping out the food budget, unless I decide to default on other obligations like the aforementioned medical bills. As I consider food and shelter necessities as well, my priorities are a little different than yours. But I also think you would place life insurance as a lower priority than you do if you lived in the US where the only real safety nets we have are teh ones we are able to weave ourselves.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@jerv Understood. I forget the burden health insurance puts on you guys. We have decent public health, and private insurance starts from about $12 per week.

Tempratt98's avatar

It really depends on what part of the world it’s happening. In many
parts of the world human life simply isn’t valued. In places like the Middle East, China, etc. where these “humans” are barely a notch above cockroaches life is of little value. Heck look at the be headings and other assorted shit that takes place and my point is made.

ginadona's avatar

Nothing will replace all of them.

rojo's avatar

Better than a kick in the balls.

Some are worth more, my life insurance says that is all I am worth.

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