Insurance For Everything
From UFO Abduction
To Vampire Bites
Vicki Haddock
San Francisco Examiner
You may think you have adequate insurance against life's little surprises. Better think twice.
Are you covered if, God forbid, you're ever impregnated by an alien? How about if you're bitten by a vampire? If a meteor slams into your house? If your plane is hijacked? If you're kidnapped and held for ransom in South America, or you get appendicitis on your wedding day? If your pet Chihuahua is raped by a stray Great Dane?
Relax - the burgeoning insurance industry has a plethora of paranormal policies for all that and more. You can insure your hair (supermodels do it), your legs (Mary Hart did it), your vocal cords (Bruce Springsteen did it), even your private parts (John Wayne Bobbitt can only wish).
One London-based firm alone has sold policies against alien abduction or impregnation, werewolf metamorphosis and even immaculate conception, which its owner drolly insists is "popular with girls named Mary."
California-based insurance firms specialize in policies to cover bar mitzvah fiascoes, pet cancer and kidnappings.
And an Internet company offers insurance against life's greatest unpredictability. If you've purchased applicable coverage from Worldwide Weather at, and your tropical vacation is ruined by the wrath of a hurricane or the drizzle of persistent rain, you'll be reimbursed.
"Call them bizarre, the exotic - however you want to characterize the policies. Some people need insurance that's every bit as unique as they are," said Ted Pierce, executive director of the San Francisco-based Surplus Line Association of California, a trade group and quasi regulator for brokers of unusual "surplus" insurance not available through insurance firms licensed in the state.
The association has cleared a policy for someone breeding birds for ostrich jerky, a policy insuring that a man's frozen fertility remains safe in the custody of a sperm bank, and a policy for people who fear E. coli bacteria or mad cow disease.
Californians have insured their collections of snuff boxes, carousel horses and taxidermy - pop icon Michael Jackson even insured his private zoo.
"If you can imagine it and it's worth something," said Pierce, "somebody out there has insurance on it."
Indeed, thousands of earthlings have purchased insurance against extraterrestrials.
Alien abduction insurance
The first firm to boldly go where no insurer had gone before, the Florida-based UFO Abduction Insurance Co. premiered alien abduction insurance a decade ago. It costs a mere $19.95 for a $10 million policy that provides psychiatric care and sarcasm protection, plus a double indemnity clause "if your alien hosts regard you as a food source."
A successful claimant is entitled to just $1 per year, but can collect until death or a million years, whichever comes first. The policy's slogan: "Beam me up - I'm covered."
The company also offers reincarnation insurance, noting, "While it's still true you can't take it with you, now you can leave it here and come back and get it." The $10 million payout doubles "if you return as a lower life form."
Applicants are rejected if they answer yes to the questions "Do you take this seriously?" and "Were your parents related before they married?"
Said President Mike St. Lawrence, "We're as serious as we can be without serving jail time."
Not so a London-based brokerage that began collecting serious premiums for coverage against aliens. The company is Goodfellow, Rebecca, Ingrams and Pearson Ltd. (acronym GRIP, as in please get one). Managing partner Simon Burgess is a tongue-in-cheek Brit who blithely admits he would not buy such policies, but added, "I've never been afraid of parsing the feeble-minded from their cash."
Triangle-headed pilots
In 1996, the firm announced it had paid its first claim, $1.6 million, to an electrician from Enfield "kidnapped" by triangle-headed spaceship pilots. The proof: a transparent claw left behind.
Suspicions mounted over the Chrismas Eve abduction - the alleged victim was identified as one Joseph Carpenter - and ultimately Burgess acknowledged it was a publicity stunt.
The Heaven's Gate cult reportedly paid $1,000 for a policy to cover its members, at $1 million per person, for abduction, impregnation or death by aliens. When 30 cult members committed suicide on the outskirts of San Diego, hoping to be transported to a UFO trailing the Hale-Bopp comet, Burgess suspended sales out of fear that fickle Yank juries might require GRIP to pay out. But eventually, Burgess explained, "Greed got the better of us and we resumed them."
GRIP now offers insurance against virgin birth, ghosts, transformation into a werewolf, and coverage for unfaithful husbands who fear "Bobbitting."
GRIP recently debuted "erectional protection" insurance, and Burgess said he's issued one in Bill Clinton's name, purchased by a Republican who will "remain unnamed." Such GRIP policies promise $1.5 million in coverage for an annual premium of $150.
No claims paid
Incidentally, not one claim has ever been paid. Said Burgess: "We're not in the business of paying claims."
Of course most people, even Californians, aren't paranoid enough about the supernatural or their spouses to justify such purchases. Chances are the surplus market has something for them anyway.
The more populist policies are for special events. Families who spend tens of thousands of dollars planning a wedding, bar mitzvah or quincenera often want some guarantee on their investment in case sudden death, illness or weather forces them to postpone the event.
More than 2,000 people last year insured their nuptials through R.V. Nuccio and Associates Insurance Brokers in Fawnskin, a small town in Southern California. A $600 premium will reimburse up to $20,000 in lost expenses, plus provide liability insurance in case a guest trips and sues.
The policy paid off for the bride whose little brother decided at the last minute to make her plain white gown prettier by finger-painting it. And for the bride whose cat used her dress to deliver a litter of kittens. And when one bride's mother, despising the groom, exacted revenge by scraping every wedding guest's car with a can opener.
Insurance also paid $25,000 to fly a party back to the wedding site in Hawaii, recreate the flowers and food, and reshoot the ceremony after the original negatives were stolen.
"We pay out on six or seven of those a week - I'm telling you, in many cases the bride would rather have the wedding photos than the groom," said Nuccio.
But brides or grooms who wish to buy insurance against cold feet are out of luck. "That would too easily set us up for fraud and collusion," said Nuccio. "If you're asking the question, don't get married." Get a printer-friendly version of this article

20,000 Alien Abduction Policies Sold By Insurance
By Kimberly Lankford
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine

Some is truly bizarre, some is just kind of strange.
Worried about being kidnapped by aliens?
We didn't really think so. But fears of alien abduction plague enough people that at least one insurance company offers a policy that will pay if little green men come to take you away. Or maybe An American Werewolf in Paris has you nervous about turning into a hirsute creature of the night. No problem. The same company writes a policy to guard against such a metamorphosis. You can also buy coverage against being injured by a ghost, eaten (as opposed to abducted) by an alien, or hit by an asteroid (hey, it could happen).
Perhaps even weirder than the risks the policies insure against is that so many people have purchased coverage--some 20,000 alien-abduction policies, for example, have been sold. Who buys this stuff? "Normally, they're feeble-minded," explains Simon Burgess, a former Lloyd's of London underwriter who is now managing director of Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson (GRIP), the London insurance brokerage that has tapped the Twilight Zone market.
GRIP, which specializes in disability coverage, has also sold about 4,000 immaculate-conception policies, which pay if paternity is ascribed to You Know Who ("very popular with girls called Mary," says Burgess), and 4,500 of what he calls John Wayne Bobbitt policies, which pay if a knife-wielding wife . . . well, you remember the story. (In case you were wondering, policies for any of the above cost $150 a year for $1.5 million in coverage.)
But you wanna know what's really weird? GRIP has actually paid one alien-abduction claim, to the tune of £1 million sterling, says Burgess. He's a bit vague about the details, but according to the Sunday Times, an electrician from London said he was taken aboard an alien ship for about 40 minutes while looking for UFOs in Wiltshire. Burgess admitted to the Times that the electrician was actually his business partner, but insisted that the story was true nonetheless.
Pick a disaster, any disaster, and there's probably an insurance policy to cover it. Some of the policies are weird; some are better described as offbeat--mainly because they cover very specific risks, such as a person's singing voice (Bruce Springsteen has coverage) or a stallion's, er, virility. Likewise, although some of the policies are a bad buy, a few may actually be a good deal if you face risks a little out of the ordinary.