What comes to mind when consider insurance? Car insurance? House insurance? Well, sure. But there’s another world of weird, wacky and bizarre insurance out there. Afraid you might turn into a vampire or werewolf? There’s insurance for that too. Just call insurance giants, Lloyds of London.
Since 1688, that company has been to the insurance biz what outrageous innovator Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic is to the business world. Thinking outside the box is standard fare for both. In fact, when Virgin came up with Virgin Galactic and began touting tourist space travel, Lloyds insured that too. With hundreds of years in the biz, perhaps it’s unsurprising that this particular insurance broker has faced some particularly odd claims. From their surprising history, we’ve selected some of the oddest.
For example, when Heidi Klum decided to insure those famous go on forever legs of hers, she had to fly to London to be “inspected” by underwriters. Underwriters were probably standing in line to check out those assets. At the end of the day, Heidi’s legs were valued at about half of the other one. Why? The less expensive leg has a tiny, tiny scar on it. Eventually a $2 million policy was issued to Proctor & Gamble who had hired Klum as a spokesperson.
Sometimes, insurers say no. When he was producing and directing 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick approached the insurers with a proposal that they insure against space aliens being discovered before the film was released. The innovative 1968 film told the story of space travel and alien beings. Underwriters refused to approve the policy. Whether they knew something the rest of us don’t or whether they just thought the idea a little daft, we’ll never know.
10. Death by Falling Coconut
In 1984, Dr. Peter Brass published “Injury Due to Falling Coconut”. Brass did for the coconut what Spielberg’s Jaws did for sharks. He claimed, without much evidence, that 150 people a year die from being conked on the head by coconuts in places like Malaysia. (By the way, the study was awarded the ‘IgNoble Award’ for improbably research by Harvard University). After that, the poor old coconut was under siege. Innocent coconut trees in places like Australia were axed. And Club Direct, a UK travel company, was so concerned that it took out “injury by falling coconut insurance”. When one of their customers was conked on the head in Sri Lanka, there was an insurance pay out – though the knock wasn’t fatal and the girl survived to spend the money.
9. Loch Ness Monster
In the 1970’s the Scottish whiskey company Cutty Sark offered a $1.5 million reward to anyone who caught the infamous Loch Ness Monster, a dinosaur-like water creature said to have been spotted in Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. A policy against finding the monster was issued, but the London-based insurers specified that the snagged creature had to be at least 20 feet long and verified to be the monster by the curators of the National History Museum. No claims have yet been filed.
From Tom Jones’ chest hair to Santa Claus’s beard and football players’ locks, we’ve insured them all. A policy has been developed that insures against the loss of chest hair. Rumor had it that Tom Jones had his oft’ displayed chest hair insured for $7 million. Tom’s camp denied the rumor. But Lloyds of London does insure Santa’s Beard. Well, maybe not the real Santa; rather, the beard of Brady White who is Macy’s “professional” Santa Claus. He gets visits from the likes of Pam Anderson and Rene Russo, presumably with children in tow. And, back in England, the Derbyshire Whiskers Club are insured against loss of beard by fire or theft. When the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Strong Safety Troy Polamalu signed to promote Head and Shoulders shampoo, his massive three foot curly mane was insured for $1 million by the shampoo people.
7. Aliens, werewolves and vampires
Lloyds hints that 60,000 policies have been issued to insure against being abducted by aliens or turned into a werewolf or vampire. Clearly, Twilight has a lot to answer for. In 2011, Parade Magazine reported that Shirley MacLaine, a believer in the existence of extraterrestrials, had, along with 20,000 others, taken out alien abduction insurance. Her policy was in the region of $25 million. You can, if you are worried, also insure yourself against injury from falling space debris and UFO crashes.
6. Breasts and Legs
How much are Dolly Parton’s breasts worth? Well, who knows, but she insured them for $600,000. In the 1980’s Madonna’s cone encrusted breasts were insured for $2 million. When Mariah Carey signed with Gillette for their “Legs of a Goddess” campaign, they insured her legs for $1 billion. Rihanna was signed for the same campaign and her legs were insured for a paltry $1 million. Chump change compared to footballer David Beckham’s $70 million legs and Irish dancer Michael Flatley’s $40 million policy on his dancing feet.
5. Lottery Winners’ Insurance
No, not for the winners, but for the companies that employ them. Picture this; you’re a small business with a handful of employees. Half of them have a pool and play the lottery every week. What happens if they hit the jackpot and decide to pack in the day job? You’re down to half strength. Lottery Winners Insurance would step in and pay for things like hiring temps and training new employees. These insurances are issued in the UK. To claim you have to have lost at least two employees, both of whom have won at least $150,000 and have left their jobs within two weeks of the win. Odds are pretty long on that one. But last year in the UK all ten employees of a recruitment agency failed to turn up for work the next day after winning $50 million in the National Lottery from a collective pool. No reports on whether or not they were insured…
There are sedate, businesslike tongues and palates. Like Egon Ronay, the noted restaurant critic and publisher of guides, who insured his palate for several hundred thousand. Then there’s Gennaro Pelliccia, Costa Coffee’s renowned coffee tasting expert whose tasting ability was insured for $10 million. But they aren’t much fun, really. One of the most interesting tongues belongs to Gene Simmons. Back in the 1970’s Kiss’s outrageous vocalist stuck his tongue out more than Miley Cyrus. Amid rumors that he had surgery to make it longer, it was reported that he took out a $1 million policy lest the asset come to harm. One wonders what the famous tongue got up to that warranted such an expense.
Back when rock bad boy group Van Halen was rocking the 1980’s, members of the band insured necessary appendages like hands and voices – but then there was “Little Elvis”, the band’s name for David Lee’s penis. Noted as a serial groupie womanizer, David claimed in a 2013 interview that in order to insure against paternity suits, he insured Little Elvis for over $1 million. No known claims, but the policy itself would have made fascinating reading. It would be the first ever claim due to something actually working the way it was supposed to.
2. Virgin Birth
Following on from penises, we have the possibility of immaculate conception. In 2006, three sisters in Scotland were insured against the possibility of a virgin birth in the event of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church was up in arms and the policy was withdrawn. In 1999, Lloyds insured a woman named Mary Murphy against a virgin birth triggered by the coming of Millennium. We imagine appealing either of those cases in court could be tricky.
1. Zombie Apocalypse
Zombie Apocalypses have been all the rage. But Zombie Apocalypse insurance? PropertyCasualty360 reports that a U.K. insurer is offering coverage “for a potential zombie apocalypse and the resulting cleaning costs.”
We agree a zombie epidemic would be messy, but surely cleaning would be the least of your worries in the event of the Apocalypse?