Prudent business owners take out insurance policies to protect their businesses from fire, theft and other disasters. They bite the bullet to insure their cars, boats and even the airline flights they take. They give up substantial amounts of their hard-earned money over the years to pay for their own funeral expenses and to give their spouses and children some financial relief after they die. But if you think these are the only types of insurance that people have actually been known to purchase, think again. Take a stroll through the jaw-droppingly bizarre world of the strangest insurance policies ever.
1. Body Parts
For most of us, possessing an attractive physical feature is certainly a plus, but we would never consider taking out an insurance policy on it. Not so for famed supermodel Heidi Klum, whose livelihood depends on her body. Once corporate behemoth Proctor and Gamble recognized this fact, they took action and contacted British insurance giant Lloyds of London, which has been in the business since way back in 1688. Sure enough, they were more than happy to help. In the end, they wrote P&G a $2 million policy on the value of Heidi’s gorgeous legs alone. As a side note, one of them was valued at about half of the other because of a tiny scar. Other notable policies have been taken out on the body parts of famous people: $600,000 for Dolly Parton’s breasts; $2 million for Madonna’s; an unbelievable $1 billion for Mariah Carey’s legs during Gillette’s “Legs of a Goddess” campaign; and $40 million for Michael Flatley’s Irish-dancing feet.
2. Deadly Coconuts
In 1984, Dr. Peter Brass published a study claiming that 150 people each year throughout the world die due to being cracked in the head by falling coconuts. Although Harvard University later debunked Brass’s so-called research, the damage to the poor coconut had already been done. So afraid did some people become that trees were actually cut down in Australia. Furthermore, the British travel company Club Direct took out “Injury by Falling Coconut insurance.” Some time later when an insured customer was actually conked by a coconut, she was able to cash in on her policy. Better still, her injuries were not fatal and she got to make full use of the money.
3. Hair Loss and Other Catastrophies
Hair can be as much of an income generator for some as long legs are to others. Remember Tom Jones, the Welsh heart-throb of “What’s New Pussycat” fame? His chest hair is rumored to have been insured by Lloyds of London for a whopping $7 million. Facial hair is not immune from the protective coverage that Lloyds of London can provide; much-loved Macy’s professional Santa Claus impersonator Brady White’s flowing white beard is covered. So, too, are the impressive locks of Pittsburgh Steelers’ strong safety Troy Polamalu. When he signed on to promote Head and Shoulders shampoo, the company took out a $1 million policy.
4. Protecting Against the Supernatural
A compendium of the bizarre would not be complete without mention of aliens, werewolves and vampires. Lloyds of London has written 60,000 policies against all of these beings at one time or another. Actress Shirley MacLain is said to have taken out a $25 million policy against being abducted by aliens. If you’re more concerned about protecting yourself against falling space debris, never fear. There’s insurance for that, too.
5. Winning the Lottery
Imagine that you own a small business and have 10 employees on your payroll. Five of them play the lottery each week. What would you do if they came up big winners and immediately walked away from their jobs for good? Apparently, bosses have been worried enough about this possibility that Lloyds of London offers lottery insurance. Should your staff members hit the jackpot, the insurance would cover the costs of hiring temporary employees and training their replacements. The policy is only offered in the UK. You must have two employees who each won over $150,000 and left the job within two weeks.
6. Tongue Insurance
While the tongue performs invaluable tasting functions for most people, few of us would consider insuring it. However, Egon Ronay, noted restaurant critic, insured his for several hundred thousand dollars. Renowned Costa Coffee taster Gennaro Pelliccia’s palate is rumored to be worth $10 million. Even 1970s rocker Gene Simmons of KISS took out a $1 million policy on his tongue, which was on prominent display during all of the band’s many concerts.
7. Virgin Birth
Imagine what would have happened if Mary and Joseph of Nazareth had been able to take out the same policy that a woman named Mary Murphy did in 1999 to prepare for the coming of the millennium. It looks like nothing happened when Y2K rolled around, but we’re guessing that there would have been quite a payout 2000 years ago.
8. The Boss’s Voice
Where would iconic American rock singer Bruce Springsteen be without his unique voice? He’s pretty sure that his fortunes would take a dip, and that’s why he took out a $6 million policy that he can cash in if anything ever happens to that unique, gravelly vocal instrument.
9. Comedy Routines
Comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s timeless “Who’s on First” routine continues to make people chuckle many decades after the duo stopped performing in 1957. Years before that, however, they took out a five-year insurance policy for $250,000 to guard against a career-ending argument. Fortunately for lovers of the art form they practiced, they never needed to file a claim.
As this collection clearly shows, insurance policies can be created for virtually anything that is of value to someone. They can also capitalize on people’s fears, however outlandish they may seem. If you’re seriously worried that you might turn into a werewolf or be knocked out by a fast-falling coconut, we’re pretty sure that Lloyds of London can help you out.