From immaculate conceptions to alien abduction: The 5 weirdest insurance policies
Immaculate conception cover
In 2006, three sisters from Inverness, Scotland, were left reeling after their million-pound policy insuring themselves against becoming mother to the second coming of Jesus Christ was withdrawn.
The Essex-based British Insurance had charged annual premiums of around £100 on a £1m policy since 2000. Speaking to the BBC at the time, Managing Director Simon Burgess said the cover had been meant to pay for the cost of bringing up a child in the case of a virgin birth, but the company chose not to renew the policy after receiving a number of complaints from the Catholic Church and other Christian groups.
In 1993, London food critic Egon Ronay raised eyebrows by insuring his taste buds to the tune of $390,000. At the time, Ronay argued that being stripped of his sense of taste would be like a sculptor losing the use of his hands. Artistic comparisons aside, Ronay’s high-value policy signalled a rise in multi-million dollar insurance deals for all manner of stars. Costa Coffee’s chief taster Gennaro Pelliccia took taste insurance to another level in 2009 when he bought cover for his tongue worth $13million.
Former Australian cricket star Merv Hughes blazed a trail for hirsute sports stars when he insured his trademark handlebar mustache for $370,000. The price of follicle fillers was even greater for Welsh heartthrob Tom Jones who reportedly had his greatest asset, his chest hair, covered for a whopping $700,000. NFL star Troy Polamalu is also a member of the high-priced hair crew. After signing an endorsement deal with Head & Shoulders, the Pittsburgh Steelers safety had to insure his curly black mane for more than $1 million.
Satellites and tacos
US insurers offer coverage for ‘falling objects,’ a category that includes meteors and spacecraft. Space agencies, too, can take out third-party liability insurance to cover themselves in case their spacecraft causes damage after reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. In March 2001, the Russian government took out $200million in insurance a few weeks before the Mir space station came crashing to Earth.
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At the same time, Taco Bell promised a free taco to everyone in the US if Mir hit a 40ft target in the South Pacific Ocean. The odds of the orbiter hitting the target may have been miniscule, but the company still felt pressed into taking out insurance in the unlikely event it had to feed 280 million Americans for free. Dallas-based prize guarantor SCA Promotions provided the policy worth an estimated $10million.
Alien abduction liability
Insurers St Lawrence Agency in Altamonte Springs, Florida, began selling alien abduction insurance in 1987 and, at one point, had amassed as many as 5,000 policyholders globally.
Each $10 million policy came with a claim form in which the holder was asked to provide information about the alien, its spacecraft, a description of the abduction as well as some personal information. In order to claim the full value of the policy, they must also have provided the signature of an authorised alien. The company says it has paid two claimants. The victims receive $1 per year for 10 million years, or until they die.
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