6 of the Strangest Insurance Policies Ever (and 10 extras)
If you thought Jennifer Lopez insuring her gluteus maximus for over one billion dollars was weird, then you are in for a handful of surprises…
The insurance industry is likely thought of as traditional, stern, and commercialized, which is fair enough, judging by the aspects of risk that it deals with. However, this is not necessarily the case for everything that the insurance industry does.
With specialist insurance markets dating back to the 18th century, most notably Britain’s own Lloyd’s of London, underwriters have been able to customize and process personalized requests to fit the needs of individuals, no matter how bizarre. These unique coverage options make me wonder who is truly weirder – the policyholder for making the request or the underwriter for making the evaluations.
Anyway, up and coming are ten of the strangest insurance policies you’ll see around today. And yes, all of them are real.
1) Immaculate Conception Insurance
12 years ago, 3 sisters from the city of Inverness, Scotland, took out coverage from Essex-based Britishinsurance.com to insure themselves against the costs of immaculately conceiving and raising the second Christ.
These women, however highly they think of themselves, paid annual premiums of EUR 100 to the company, and were insured to receive EUR 1 million if the event did occur.
Managing Director of Britishinsurance.com Simon Burgess said that the company, a specialist in accident and sickness and unemployment insurance, did not mean to offend anyone.
There was much outrage from the Catholic Church and the public.
Burgess insisted that the company had pure intentions, and that the women were concerned about having the funds to bring up Christ. Perhaps the statement was true, because apparently all of the premium earnings from the deal were donated to charity.
Whether this was a publicity stunt, or the sisters were on hard drugs (I refuse to believe that they sanely thought one of them would immaculately conceive the second Christ), Burgess added that out of all the requests the company has had, this was definitely the weirdest.
2) Alien Abduction Insurance
Also known as UFO insurance, alien abduction insurance pays insured individuals under the event that they are abducted by aliens.
The policy was first offered by the St. Lawrence Agency in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and is said to have insured at least two claims.
According to Burgess, founder of British Insurance, this coverage is only for the “feeble- minded”. Notable policyholders included Shirley MacLaine and a former professor at Harvard University.
Though, to date, tens of thousands of people have purchased alien abduction insurance, and the famed Lloyd’s of London claims to have sold more than 40,000 of them. To receive compensation from Lloyd’s, policyholders must pass a lie-detector test, and provide video footage or a third-party witness.
However, 39 people, all of who were members of the Heaven’s Gate “religious group”, based in San Diego, California, were unable to do either of the above.
The cult was insured by the London brokerage Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson (GRIP), at the cost of $155 a year for a $160,000 payout should someone be abducted. In 1997, the members’ insurance was withdrawn as all of them committed suicide in an attempt to reach an alien space craft in pursuit of the Hale-Bopp Comet.
Heaven’s Gate’s alien policy included double payment if an insured person was impregnated during the course of an invasion. Men were also included in this, for protection against the “unknown capabilities of alien technology.”
3) Spooksafe Insurance (Ghosts, Poltergeists, Abnormal Phenomena)
Spooksafe insurance is a policy distributed by specialist insurance provider, Ultraviolet. The policy is designed to compensate customers against injury or death caused by ghosts, poltergeists, or other paranormal phenomena. It even includes payment of damages if a person is turned into a werewolf or vampire.
In 2001, Ultraviolet issued more than 500 policies to paranoid customers. One of the more publicized cases involves Terry Meggas, a pub landlord of the Royal Falcon Hotel in Lowestoft, Suffolk, who figured he needed coverage for the ghost of a monk who haunts his hotel and “shot glasses along the bar one night”. Mr. Meggs took out a Spooksafe policy with Ultraviolet, that cost him and his wife EUR500 annually, and would pay out up to EUR1 million if someone was harmed by some paranormal phenomena.
So far, Ultraviolet has already shelled out EUR100,000 on this policy to a woman who died from being thrown over banisters in her home in the United States. Underwriters concluded that a ghost was involved in the killing
4) Sports Fan Insurance & Fantasy Football Insurance
Probably not what you’re thinking when you couple “sports” and “insurance”. Instead of redeeming sports players for recovery times from suffering an injury, the innovative, but strange sports fan insurance and fantasy football insurance offer other requirements for compensation.
Sports fan insurance was issued in 2006 to insure a die-hard English football fan against excessive pain and woe from the England team suffering an early knock out of the 2006 World Cup. England went on to take first place in its Group B, and win its second round match before losing to Portugal in penalties in the quarter finals. It turns out England had a pretty decent run, and no claim was filed by the fan.
The other type of strange sports insurance provides coverage to fantasy football (American football) owners in the event that one of their star players gets injured.
Fantasy Sports Insurance, created by Henry Olszewski and Anthony Giaccone, offers fantasy owners three possible coverage options. First, if a player misses 10 out of the first 15 games because of an injury. Second, if a player misses 8 out of the first 12 games because of an injury. And third, if three players miss a total of 18 out of the first 15 games because of an injury.
5) Taco Insurance
In the year 2001, around the time the Mir space station was intended to crash somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean, Taco Bell formed a very daring promotional stunt. The fast-food company promised to provide everyone in America a free taco if the space station splashed down within a designated 40 by 40 foot perimeter in the Pacific Ocean.
To most Americans dismay, the station didn’t hit the target, and Taco Bell got away with hordes of free traffic to its website during the promotion. If Mir did make its ideal landing, Taco Bell would have been down roughly $272.7 million dollars. Just kidding, the restaurant chain had purchased an insurance policy to cover the risks, known as prize indemnity insurance.
I now have a lot more respect for Taco Bell.
6) Horse Reproductive Organ (Breeding) Insurance
Horse racing is definitely no joke. In my hometown (or city) of Hong Kong alone, the Hong Kong Jockey Club hosts extremely popular horse races every Wednesday and Saturday. Even Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney owns a racing horse.
Anyways, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many companies provide life insurance plans for horses. But policies that cover a horses erectile dysfunction? That may be a bit strange. There are over six companies that issue “breeding insurance”, with one located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, called Redland Insurance Co.. The policy is simple, and will pay out $10,000 for Quarter Horses; a certain breed of horse which is very common in racing. Other breeds can be insured at the same amount for an extra $100 in annual premiums.
10 Additional “strange” insurance products which currently exist include:
1. In 2001, The National Sealife centre in Birmingham insured its visitors up to EUR1 million from “death or permanent disability” from the Japanese Giant Crab.
2. Again in 2001, comedian Rich Hall insured himself against permanent loss of humor.
3. Yet again in 2001, Nicola Jones insured herself against becoming early, as determined by 10 specified workers.
4. Lloyd’s of London created a policy to insure against loss of chest hair which could “adversely impact a person’s image or career.” The policyholder is required to suffer a loss of 85 percent of his, or her, chest hair, and be examined by trichologists in order to file a claim.
5. One film company bought insurance that covered the chance of one of its actress fell in love during a set. Also, during the early 19th century, in one case, cinemagoers were insured against death from excessive laughter.
6. Brady White, the well known Santa Claus at the New York Macys department store has his beard insured.
7. In 2003, Basil Brush, a popular childrens television show puppet, had its tail insured for EUR1 million.
8. In 2001, Andrew Areoff insured himself for EUR500 against receiving bad Christmas presents.
9. In 1998, TV broadcaster James Whale insured his tongue for EUR1 million against loss of voice. Similarly, Gennaro Pelliccia, who samples products for Costa Coffee, insured his tongue for EUR10m with a policy from, to no surprise, Lloyd’s of London.
10. America Ferrera, star of the hit television show Ugly Betty, was issued a policy from Lloyd’s of London to have her smile insured for EUR10 million.
If you could have named at least 2 of these policies before reading this article, I’d be more than impressed. It seems that insurance isn’t as dull anymore, right? All in all, if you have any personal fears that aren’t covered by an existing insurance policy, let us know of your idea in the comments below!