"Insurance for Deadly Selfies."
That was the subject line of an email I received last week from an insurance broking company.
"If you love sharing your adventures on social media," the email continued, "be sure your insurance has got you covered."
There are only two conclusions to draw from an email flogging death by selfie insurance: either we have reached peak stupid and the insurance industry is trying to protect us from ourselves or, alternatively, the insurance industry has found a new way to monetise our narcissism.
Just to be clear, death by selfie is a thing. There is even a word for it now: kilfie.
While it's unlikely that kilfies will ever top a list of common fatalities, the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care reported that there were 259 deaths while posing for selfies between October 2011 to November 2017.
Although I couldn't find more up to date figures, I can only assume there have been many more deaths in the past two years. Just to put that in perspective, five times more people die by selfie than shark attack. And those 259 deaths occurred in 137 incidents so, in many cases, more than one person died from the fateful selfie.
Lead author of the selfie death study Dr Agam Bansal and his research team recommended that high risk areas such as water bodies, mountain peaks and tall buildings should have signs declaring "no selfie zones" in an effort to reduce kilfies.
The Indian state of Goa is reported to have created 24 "no selfie zones" along cliffs, popular beaches and swimming holes to try to stop people from attempting to capture the ultimate seflie to die for.
Have we really become so taken by our own likenesses that we need a sign to tell us that leaning over the edge of a cliff in pursuit of the perfect shot is a bad idea? While I'm no expert, I have to question whether a sign is going to be sufficient to deter people who are reckless enough to risk their life - and their friends' lives - for "likes".
Which brings us back to the death by selfie insurance. If you're the type of person who's at risk of death by selfie, how likely is it that you're going to be diligent enough to take out insurance just in case? My guess is, if you're willing to risk your life in pursuit of your dream of becoming a social media influencer, you're unlikely to be a fine print kind of person.
Russell Cain, CEO of LifeInsuranceDirect, says we need to start thinking about high risk selfie taking the same way we approach activities such as skydiving.
"Let's say, for example, you participate in skydiving every weekend, and then you took on a life insurance policy and you didn't disclose that activity to the insurance company, and then you subsequently passed away in a skydiving accident," says Cain.
"Potentially that is going to be excluded, because the insurance company may have a policy of not covering skydivers, therefore, they're not going to pay out their policy because you didn't comply with their duty of disclosure."
Cain says taking selfies at dangerous locations may fall into the same category as extreme sports.
"Some policies have a clause concerning high risk activities where they might exclude cover for such activities," he says.
Cain is not aware of any case where a life insurance policy has not been paid out for a death caused by selfie. But, given our apparent insatiable appetites for selfies, perhaps our insurance policies should reflect our new behaviours.
It's tempting to blame the insurance companies for cashing in on our idiocy, but they may very well be just the pool of water reflecting back at us the consequences of our narcissistic urges.
- Kasey Edwards is the author of the young adult series The Chess Raven Chronicles under the pen name Violet Grace.
- SMH/The Age