Sounds like you're thinking of a "The Danger of Lying in Bed," published in The Galaxy in 1871. Barbara Schmidt has generously posted in on her site at www.twainquotes.com/Galaxy/187102d.html.
It wasn't a life insurance salesman, but a railroad ticket agent selling accident insurance. Twain claimed he had already "invested" in travel insurance for awhile with "never a prize in the lot." So he hunted up statistics & found that the Erie Railroad was killing at most 26 out of a million passengers every six months, while "in the same time 13,000 of New York's million die in their beds!" "The peril," he concluded, "lay not in travelling, but in stayng at home."
His "advice to all people" therefore was, "Don't stay at home any more than you can help; but when you have got to stay at home a while, buy a package of those insurance tickets and sit up nights. You cannot be too cautious."
Thanks for the reminder; I hadn't re-read this piece since I was a kid.
----- Original Message ----
From: jim <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2008 10:49:19 PM
I discovered Twain probably 25 years ago and quickly devoured everything
I could get my hands on. I've enjoyed lurking here but find I don't
have time to always read the post. For this reason I intend to sign
off. Before I go I have a question. When reading many of Twain's short
works I thought I read a short story in which a life insurance salesman
was attempting to make a sale to the author. The author's take on the
idea of betting you will die was hilarious. Did Mark Twain write
anything like this? I've asked others in the past without a
satisfactory answer. It seemed so "Twain" like - at least in my memory.
I hesitate to post such a question as a simple layman but where am I to
turn if not here? Tell me I'm mistaken and I can let this go and die
peacefully. It's bothered me for years, I need to know.