Ok – so, bring up the word ‘insurance’ to anyone but a broker or agent, and you might get a yawn or two. Sure, it’s not the most exciting subject on the planet, but it’s necessary in many walks of life! Insurance policies help to protect us when we find that we need to add a bit more of a safety net underneath the things that matter to us the most.
For example, you’ll likely have contents insurance if you own or rent a property and will also have an insurance policy on the whole of your property, too. It’s also the law in the UK to have car insurance before you can drive away. Let’s not forget the fact that the gadget insurance industry is booming – and given that there are smartphones retailing for between £1,000 and £2,000, that’s hardly a surprise.
But what are some interesting and intriguing facts about insurance which are likely to blow you away? Let’s have a bit of fun and take a look at some bizarre and thought-provoking insurance stats you may not be aware of.
In the US, there is such a thing as alien abduction coverage. This means that – should you be abducted by aliens, and can prove it, you may be able to make a claim if you suffer damages. It’s been a policy staple for over 30 years now, and even weirder is the fact that the UFO Abduction Insurance Company states that they have paid out!
There are some pretty steep life insurance policies out there on some of the most influential people on the planet. For example, you’ll likely not find a policy pricier than Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, who reportedly has a policy worth $1.2 billion.
It’s thought that the brave astronauts taking to the Apollo 11 mission chose to autograph items for their loved ones to sell on in case they didn’t come back. Why? Believe it or not, life insurance was not a thing for this mission – luckily, NASA has likely wised up to this in the decades that followed!
‘good luck on getting life insurance guys’
Starbucks is a firm which reportedly invests in its people – and if its insurance policies are anything to go by, they pay more to cover their staff than they pay for their actual coffee. The coffee giant has been through the mill in terms of branch closures over the years, though it is still believed that their employee healthcare totals more than $300 million, and that CEO Howard Schultz has refused to cut it despite calls to the contrary.
Insurance has been a facet of society since the 14th Century. That’s when the world’s first contract for an insurance policy was ever signed – and from there, people often sought to insure their estates in line with financial backing.
However, it’s thought that insurance might date back even further as a general practice, even if it wasn’t formalised until the 1300s. It’s thought that traders in China used to insure their boats in case of theft or loss at sea, and this is dating back as far as 3,000 BC!
Fire insurance only really became a major asset following the Great Fire of London in the 17th century and for good reason! Since then, policies and carriers have, of course, refined things more than a little to cover for accidental property damage.
There is such a thing as body part insurance, though it’s likely a phenomenon that’s been around longer than many people imagine. It’s not unheard of for famous people such as actors and singers to start insuring their bodies, and Ben Turpin happened to be the first – though this was as a result of the star not wanting to lose his crossed eyes, which was his signature look! Turpin took out a $25,000 policy to protect them in 1920.
Taco Bell once took a bit of a risk by stating that they would buy every single person in the US a taco if the Mir space station crashed within a designated zone in the ocean. The MSS was due to crash anyway – but Taco Bell wasn’t taking any risks heartily. They insured themselves just in case they had to pay out, meaning that they would at least have been good for their word!
There’s a single cigar which was once insured for around £18,000. What was it that made it so expensive to insure? Was it gold-plated? Did it belong to Winston Churchill? No – it was the biggest in the world, weighing a stonking 110kg. That’s worth insuring!
Coming back to body part insurance, a policy that puts Ben Turpin’s in the shade is that which Michael Flatley, dancer and Riverdance star, took out on his legs. Believe it or not, if anything happens to his famous tap-dancing pins, he could stand to claim $25 million. Football star David Beckham did the same, for $70 million!
Claudia Schiffer, too, is no stranger to insuring body parts. The supermodel made sure to take a policy out on her face to the tune of $5 million.
Left at the alter? There’s insurance for that!
There is such a thing as wedding insurance – which you may already know about if you are in the process of getting married. While this type of policy will generally cover you in case a venue or vendors drop out on you, there are some policies which will let you claim if you get jilted at the altar! There’s nothing quite like tempting fate!
People used to take out insurance policies against dying of laughter when comedy movies first started heading to the cinema. Dying of laughter is possible – but thankfully, it’s pretty rare, and we doubt many carriers would offer anything quite so specific nowadays!
There is such a thing as golf insurance – as in some territories and cultures, it is required for anyone who scores a hole in one while playing with friends a club to buy drinks for everyone. As this can really skyrocket depending on the size of the party involved, there is a policy which helps to bring this cost down to size.
Amish communities in the US, as well as refusing to adopt many modern standards, actively shun the concept of insurance. They believe it to be showing a lack of faith in God. They also avoid paying social security in the US for the same reasons – they see it as a ‘survivors’ insurance.
Insurance laws and rules may vary from state to state across the US. In Hawaii, for example, all companies have to, legally, pay health insurance for any staff who may work for them more than 20 hours per week. This system has been in place for almost 50 years.
A rather dark take on life insurance is clear to see through the Japanese system. Japan has a fairly high suicide rate already – and policies in the country pay out if you kill yourself. Therefore, if you want to leave a lump sum to your family, you could effectively take your own life.
Jackie Chan makes sure to personally train and pay for all the stuntmen who complete his fantastic feats on camera. Why? No insurance company is willing to give the action star the coverage he’d normally need to safely perform the stunts himself.
The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has endured for as long as anyone can remember. However, Cutty Sark, a whisky label, once announced that they would give anyone £1 million if they could prove the existence of, and capture, Nessie. Naturally, Cutty Sark sought an insurance policy to underwrite the contest – Lloyd’s in London showed interest but stated they would only pay out if they could take full ownership of the Monster!
Believe it or not, the very concept of a fire department has ties to insurance. That’s because they were originally set up purely to put out the fires of specific households and policyholders! Thankfully, things have moved on since then – and fire departments won’t ignore a blaze that belongs to a competing policy!
The insurance industry is a forward-moving one. Studies show that the majority of people working in insurance today are women – in the form of a 60-40 split.
There are plenty of big brands and companies willing to give huge cash prizes to lucky people – but the fact is, they will largely underwrite these contests with insurance policies just in case anyone actually wins. A good example of this stems from Pepsi, who once held a competition which would have given a lucky winner $1 billion in a sweepstakes deal. The company paid a princely $10 million in insurance fees just in case anyone dared to win their ‘Play For a Billion’ competition! That’s one confident carrier!
The World Trade Center disaster in 2001 resulted in some of the biggest insurance payouts of all time. It is thought that up to $40 billion was claimed as a result of life and property claims.
Anyone who remembers using Microsoft Windows XP will likely be familiar with the ‘green hills’ photo, which was the default desktop background for the operating system. However, it’s a real photo, not a computer-generated image, and Microsoft naturally tried to pay for the original film of the picture to reach them. However, it turned out that the initial courier charge them an extortionate rate for shipping protection. Therefore, the photographer himself delivered the photo to Microsoft in person!
Microsoft photo insurance!?
Private health insurance policies are optional in most countries – all except the Netherlands, in fact. It is here where you will have to have a policy in place based on your income. Therefore, there is no unfairness over age and overall health, meaning that you pay more if you earn more.
Dashcams have grown in popularity all over the world by way of insurance protection and evidence-gathering. Effectively, a dashcam on your car or motorbike will capture footage or snapshots of a crash or incident and can therefore be used as proof if there are any disputes. It’s also useful in the event of hit and run incidents.
Around 80% of people who go bankrupt in the US through medical bills already have health insurance. This is thought to be as a result of various points of illness and conditions not being covered, and as a result of additional deductible fees.
In fact, if you look at all of the bankruptcies that occur in the US, it is thought that more than 60% of them occur due to medical fees and hospital bills.
Healthcare: One of the more sensible insurances to take out
Smoking is an issue in many life insurance policies – as it’s proven to pose a huge risk to your life and might therefore stunt your policy – however, it’s also likely to increase your home insurance in some cases, too. What’s more, you may even find that some home insurance policies won’t insure you on specific dog breeds.
GPS, as a concept, had a bit of a shaky start thanks to insurance worries. Specifically, those who engineered GPS and satellite navigation at MIT thought that no insurance carrier would cover people who drove with navigation systems showing them the way. That’s why they never patented the technology on-site!
The word ‘insurance’ is fairly interesting in and of itself! That’s because it actually used to refer to being engaged to wed someone! However, since the early days of this usage, the term evolved to mean ‘assurance’ instead.
An interesting fact about money-making and the insurance industry – it’s thought that Sony actually makes more money from its insurance division than it does from actively selling products!
In some cases, US health insurance policyholders can’t seek help for mental health as they are not covered as such by their carriers. Of course, this is likely to differ from state to state – such as in Hawaii, as stated higher up in our fact file. It’s a complex industry!
Do you have any interesting stories or fun facts about insurance that we might like to hear about? Share them in the comments section below!