A Publication of WTVP

Did you know that the first evidence of insurance dates back to 5000 BC? Chinese boat operators realized the risk of losing their boats in treacherous rapids on the river, so they would redistribute their cargo among several of them. If one boat was lost, all the boat owners shared the loss, and no one was wiped out.

Insurance has certainly evolved over the centuries. It first appeared in this country in 1752, when Ben Franklin formed The Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire. It was the first mutual fire insurance company in the United States.

Today, there are insurance policies that cover not just the ordinary things, like homes, autos and businesses, but any number of things one can dream up. Among the most bizarre are kidnapping, body parts, alien abduction, judge insurance and a “change of heart.”

Kidnap and ransom policies are popular with wealthy families, but many professionals and corporations purchase this coverage as well. While the insurance company doesn’t shell out the ransom, it will reimburse the family or corporation after they pay the kidnappers.

Wanting to protect their natural assets, celebrities often take out policies on notable high-value body parts, such as Bette Davis’ waist, Bruce Springsteen’s voice, and America Ferrera’s Ugly Betty smile. Merv Hughes, a famous Australian cricket player, even insured his bushy, handlebar moustache for $370,000.

One London-based insurance company, Goodfellow Rebecca Ingram Pearson (GRIP), offers alien abduction policies. So if you lie awake at night worrying what would happen if aliens took you away, you can cover it and your beneficiary will receive a sizable payout should such an event ever occur. (The problem would be how to prove it.) To date, the company has sold 30,000 of these policies. GRIP also offers coverage if you are hit by an asteroid, injured by a ghost or transformed into a werewolf!

If you are taking part in a high-stakes trial, you can even insure your judge. In the 1980s, one of the parties in an expensive civil lawsuit purchased an insurance policy to cover the judge. As both sides had spent millions of dollars on the suit, they did not want to risk losing all the money they’d invested if something happened to the precious judge during the trial.

From cold feet to cold food, change of heart (wedding) insurance covers a wide range of things that could go wrong leading up to that special day. Besides a change of heart by the would-be bride or groom, claims covered by wedding insurance include: military deployment of either party; venue issues (lost deposits, loss of booking due to closure); death, illness or injury of a key guest; problems with the photographer; caterers going out of business; or the DJ not showing up.

Many of these unusual insurance policies are work-related and should be considered by certain types of employers, and often, legitimate organizations are formed. Thanks to Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, the number of organizations performing paranormal investigations is growing, as is their need for public liability and professional indemnity coverage.

Similarly, since haunted house attractions started popping up in the ‘80s, the need for liability insurance for third-party visitors has also increased. A claim was made for wrongful death when an asthmatic teen suffered a horrible reaction to the fog machines in a St. Louis haunted house.

All this reminds us that insurance can have a bit of frivolity as a reason for being, but prevention of the risk happening is as important as the protection provided.iBi

Some of the preceding excerpts were adapted from Amy Bell’s article “5 Bizarre Insurance Policies” on