As many grapple with choosing the right health plan for open enrollment, we thought we would pause to take stock of insurance policies.
According to Investopedia, some of the earliest insurance policies appeared in Hammurabi’s Code – that ancient set of Babylonian laws believed to be the first formal, written rules dictating familial and business behavior. The code protected people – especially debtors – if it became impossible for them to pay back their loan due to disability or death. Later, Chinese merchants began to take out policies to insure their goods as they distributed them across treacherous seas. Soon, insurance spread to cover many, many risks.
We took a look at some of the strangest insurance policies out there.
- Weddings. Planning your perfect day is an expensive affair these days. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is estimated to be around $29,000. So savvy brides and grooms have turned to taking out policies that protect them if things don’t go off with a … er … hitch. These plans pay out if the wedding is cancelled due to illness, injury or severe weather. It also protects couples if a caterer or banquet facility goes bankrupt after they’ve paid.
- Pregnancy. Some countries encourage a planned approach to pregnancy. Take Hong Kong. Women there need to have a special rider on their health plans for maternity services to be covered. And yes, waiting periods are common under these plans. Most women are required to wait 12 months from the start of the policy before maternity services will be paid for.
- Multiples. Speaking of pregnancies, there are insurers willing to bet that couples will only have one bouncing baby – not several. Numerous parents have taken out insurance policies to protect against the financial burden of twins, triplets or more!
- Body-snatchers. Plenty of people believe we’re not alone in the universe – but at least 30,000 people have gone so far as to purchase insurance against an alien abduction from London-based insurance company Goodfellow Rebecca Ingram Pearson! That’s right. Your beneficiary will be paid if little green Martians make off with you. That is, if you can prove it. There are policies that protect against werewolf and vampire slayings, too.
- Body Parts. Celebrities and sports figures are famous for insuring their most valued assets. Mariah Carey – who dances as much as she sings during her sold-out performances – insured her legs for $1 billion. Rolling Stone’s guitarist Keith Richards insured his hands for $1.5 million. And Pittsburg Steeler Troy Polamalu had his hair insured for $1 million after signing an endorsement deal with Head & Shoulders shampoo.
- Winning. Companies insure their promotional stunts regularly. In 2001, Taco Bell offered a free taco if any part of the incoming Mir spaceship hit a target it set up. It didn’t. But the gamble did pay off for Baltimore-based Gardiners Furniture in 2013. It promised free furniture to any customer who bought between Jan. 31 and 3 p.m. Super Bowl Sunday if any player in the Big Game returned a kick for a touchdown at the start of the game or after half-time. The insurer had to pay out over $600,000 to happy customers.