X-Message-Number: 14813
From: "John de Rivaz" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: Alcor's obligations: a reply
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 10:45:36 -0000

Whilst I cannot fault the logic in David Pizer's analysis over the recent
failure of Alcor's relationship with a German patient, I do wonder about the
public and human relations angle to all of this.

There seems to be two issues.

1. Communications failures:
a) A failure of the credit card system of standing debits - if a credit card
customer changes his credit card then it ought to be possible to have some
arrangement to change the standing debits. The banks claim there is, but in
practise there is not.
b) Failure of all three: email, snail mail and telephone. Quite hard to
believe that if the patient has not moved house.

2. A failure of the life insurance system to provide the service it claims
to provide. (Or possibly its customers perceived it to have claimed).
Changing carriers can be extremely expensive.

As Mr Pizer says, issue 1 is a matter between the individual and any service
provider that is paid for by credit card standing debit. In the UK most
service providers prefer a bank direct debit, which is a slightly different
instrument and is more reliable. The difficulty with this in the case of
small organisations is that the drawer of such debits has to jump through a
much bigger hoop to be accepted into the system. In this case it would be
irrelevant as it is not international.

Issue 2 seems to me to be a fundamental flaw in the use of life insurance at
all for cryonics, despite the advantages so often expressed in this list by
various people.

Who is to say whatever life carrier you use, it is not at some time going to
change its regulations so as to become unsuitable to a cryonics
organisation? It has often been pointed out that as people get older, they
could become uninsurable. Once they are uninsurable they cannot change life

However the option that I recommend, term insurance plus estate building
(investments), gets a part of the way around this problem, especially if
embellished at bit further.

1. Estimate what you think your cryonics provider will charge in 20 years
time for a cryopreservation.
(with CI this is easy as it is a constant figure - with Alcor I am not sure
of the history of increases and whether there has been enough to suggest a
pattern that could be extrapolated into the future with any chance at all of
being even remotely correct.)

2. Take out term insurance for this amount.

3. Invest a lump sum as much as you can in excess of a hundredth of this
amount into a  technology mutual trust. (or make monthly payments into a
technology unit trust if you don't have a lump sum). Make some arrangement
so that the mutual fund will pass to your cryonics organisation if you die
within the 20 years. It doesn't matter if they don't care for such
arrangements as it won't be the primary source of your funding. If possible
arrange for this holding to be held in some manner that avoids capital
taxation on disposal. [There are many government sponsored investment
incentive schemes around the world that permit this - see an independent
financial advisor in your country, but it may be that they do not permit
transfer of the funds outside probate.]

4. If the investment reaches the current value of a cryopreservation towards
the end of the 20 years, prepay. (If you can't avoid capital taxation, then
when the *after tax amount* equals this). If you have invested substantially
more than 1/100 of the estimated future cost of a cryopreservation, then
once a substantial gain is showing you may decide instead to start prepaying
by instalments well before the 20 years is up if there is a maximum below
which capital taxation is not levied. Prepaying by what would be in
proportion small instalments may enable you to continue the process after
one full cryopreservation has been pre-paid, so you could fund other members
of your family that way as well. But don't do it until the total capital you
have is *not* seriously diminished by each instalment.

I would imagine that Alcor does not expect prepayments to be topped up if
the fee is increased after the full amount has been prepaid, but I don't
know for sure. If it does, then you have to keep your investments going and
continue to make prepayments over the minimum sum - when a rise comes, it
may be  more than you could pay all at once.

Remember that all this is to happen over 20 years - I know technology has
not done spectacularly well this year, but that is hardly surprising
considering how well it did last. Over 20 years investments in technology
should increase by an amount of the order of 100 times. If they do not, then
I would suspect that we will have found that the chances of cryonics revival
has also reduced substantially.

This incident has highlighted a risk with life insurance.

A lot of people consider investment to be risky on the basis that the funds
might not get transferred or indeed be taken by legalist adventurers,
especially when the patient is old and enfeebled.

Prepayment carries a risk that the cryonics organisation, however well run,
can go bust as a result of legalist adventurism before the patient is
cryopreserved.  (or for that matter after, but this second risk is not
specific to the means by which its patients paid.)

Nothing in this world is perfectly safe!

Investment makes patients' money work for them rather than someone else, and
prepayment puts funds into the hands of the cryonics organisations who can
invest them for the benefit of the movement as a whole. The only person to
lose is the life insurance sales person who gets less fees for selling term
insurance. But as I understand it many of the people selling it to
cryonicists are cryonicists, so they should not object too strongly to this
on the basis that the benefit will ultimately flow to cryonics.

My proposal combines all three funding methods, and therefore removes many
of the risks.

Sincerely, John de Rivaz
my homepage links to Longevity Report, Fractal Report, music, Inventors'
report, an autobio and various other projects:
http://www.autopsychoice.com - should you be able to chose autopsy?

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