Most of us don’t think too much about insurance, but we deal with it in just about every aspect of our lives, from health insurance to unemployment insurance, from homeowner’s insurance to auto insurance. But insurance can cover a lot more than this—in fact, most common homeowners insurance covers stuff you might not think of, like liability if your dog bites someone, damage from riots (!), and even your tombstones, which are considered personal property. And in theory, you can get a custom insurance policy on anything that has a demonstrable “insurable interest”—that is, demonstrable financial loss associated with an event.
Insurers may not be willing to write the policy if there are significant moral hazards or if they calculate that the policy doesn’t make sense financially for their business—but you might be surprised to learn some of the stuff you can insure with a pretty low degree of difficulty.
You’ve probably heard about some celebrity who has taken out an insurance policy on certain body parts. If you thought this was just hype, you’re wrong—you can, in fact, insure a body part or even the function of a body part as long as you can demonstrate insurable interest. For example, model and TV host Heidi Klum’s legs were actually insured for more than $2 million—though it should be noted that it was a client who took out the policy, presumably because the loss of Klum’s legs would ruin their investment in her as a model or spokesperson.
You don’t need to be particularly famous to insure a body part or function. A dutch winemaker insured his sense of smell, for example, and a professional coffee-taster had his taste buds insured by his employer. The key here is that insurable interest. You can’t just declare that your ears are adorable and have them insured for millions; you’d have to demonstrate that losing or damaging your ears would cause significant financial loss.
Your fantasy sports team
If you’ve ever participated in a serious fantasy sports league, you know that it’s often a long and complicated sports bet involving a lot of moving parts—and often significant sums of money. And you can’t control or predict injuries or sudden retirements (or arrests and suspensions) that might impact your team’s performance. You can, however, insure against those risks. If your insurance company isn’t interested, you can look for a specialty insurer like Rotosurance, which specializes in this kind of insurance.
Weddings and special events
Weddings are expensive. In fact, these days, a growing list of special events cost a lot of money—aside from weddings, you have bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, and even lavish birthday parties. If you’re planning to sink a considerable amount of money into something like a wedding or extravagant party, you should consider buying insurance just in case things go off the rails—damage to the venue, injuries to guests, or cancelations in case someone gets a really bad case of cold feet.
Kidnapping and ransom
The world can be a scary place, and there is a non-zero chance that you might be kidnapped and held for ransom even if you’re not particularly wealthy. And there are a few surprising countries on the list of most likely places to get yourself kidnapped, like Turkey or The Philippines. So if you’re traveling anywhere that raises your risk of abduction, you might consider looking into buying some kidnapping and ransom insurance, which is generally not part of your standard vacation insurance (or if it is, it’s generally not a lot of coverage). This way you can get your ransom paid without having to sell your house.
Your home’s landscaping is generally covered by your homeowners insurance (though not always—check before you assume)—but standard policies are pretty basic and don’t cover much. If you’ve got exotic plants or materials as part of your landscaping, or if you’ve invested a significant amount in custom plantings, you can and should consider buying a separate policy for those, including hail and snow damage if there’s any chance at all that a rogue storm might destroy your backyard.
If you own a business that relies on a small number of crucial employees—a pretty typical scenario for a small business—you can insure your bottom line against losing that person or persons. Key Person Insurance is actually fairly common, but it requires that you can demonstrate a quantifiable loss associated with the death, unexpected retirement, or other loss of that employee or partner. If you’ve ever woken up in a sweat because you had a nightmare that Kelly, who is your sales team, suddenly decides to pursue her dream of being a hand model, this insurance is for you.
Food poisoning protection
If you’re planning to invite the neighborhood over for a cookout, or you’re having the entire executive team over for a dinner party, you’re putting yourself at risk. If you buy the wrong fish or undercook the pork loin and everyone gets food poisoning, you could be held liable for their medical bills and other costs. Many homeowners policies actually cover you for this sort of thing (generally up to $1,000 per guest), but not all of them do, so it’s worth checking into and buying a separate policy, if necessary.
War and terrorism
If you do business around the world or own significant assets in foreign countries, you know it can be a pretty scary place. Some otherwise stable and friendly countries have experienced terrorist attacks or have fallen into war with other countries, which is usually not great for both everyday business and property values. You can protect yourself from the impact of this kind of unrest and violence by buying yourself some war and terrorism insurance, which is a thing that absolutely exists even though we might fervently wish it didn’t have to.
Yes, you can actually buy an insurance policy that indemnifies you against losses incurred as a result of an alien abduction. While it’s a real policy, it’s intended as a bit of a joke, which should be obvious from its terms, some of which specify it will pay out your $10,000,000 benefit at the rate of $1 a year for ten million years. Believe it or not, two people have made successful claims on their policies, netting them that handsome buck every twelve months, but one imagines the company figures that’s a small price to pay to avoid a ludicrous lawsuit.
Insurance is always a pretty good idea—and if a possession or situation is valuable to you, it’s worth looking into whether or not you can insure it. Because you probably can.
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