There is an old insurance joke about the man who insured his box of fine Monte Cristo cigars and then put in a claim after they had "been lost in a fire".

According to reports, a man in Charlotte, North Carolina did indeed insure his cigars against fire. He claimed they had been lost "in a series of small fires" no less. The insurer naturally rejected the claim. But the man sued and of course in this day and age, won.

The judge ruled that the claim was frivolous but stated that the insurer had accepted the premium for a policy which insured against fire. It did not clearly define what was an "unacceptable fire". As such, the insurer was obliged to pay the claim.

After a lengthy appeal the insurer paid out $15,000 to the man.But the insurer had the last laugh. After the man cashed the cheque, he was arrested on charges of arson and the evidence used in winning the claim was used against him in criminal proceedings. He was charged with intentionally burning his own property, fined $24,000 and jailed for 24 months.