Tom Jones's chest hair and 17 other improbable insurance policies

Tom Jones's chest hair and 17 other improbable insurance policies
Whether it’s your house, your car, the family pet or your own life, we all need insurance. But it seems that some people’s needs can be more specific than others.
From phantoms to fingers and crabs to crossed eyes, it seems you really can get insurance for anything. Photograph: Andersen Ross/Getty Images
We’re obliged by law to insure our cars. We’re urged by our mortgage lenders to insure our homes. If we’ve got any sense, we insure their contents as well. And if we care for our dependents we insure our lives too.

And there, for most of us, the not-altogether-exciting world of insurance ends. But for some wild-eyed pioneers, there are always new things to insure. Let’s count down some of the strangest insurance policies in history.Silent movie star Ben Turpin was the trendsetter in this area. He was convinced that his strikingly crossed eyes were the key to his success, and was forever checking whether the various vigorous stunts in his films had uncrossed them. In 1928, he reputedly insured the condition with Lloyds of London for $25,000 (about $340,000 in today’s money), payable if his eyes should ever return to normal. It was almost certainly a publicity stunt, but the stage was set for ever more exotic showbiz insurance policies.

Not to be outdone, Charlie Chaplin, famous for his trademark waddle, got his legs insured for £100,000.In the following decade, Jimmy ‘the Schnozzle’ Durante’s trademark nose was insured by Lloyd’s for $140,000. A few years later Betty Grable, the iconic wartime pin-up, insured her legendary legs for $1m.

Still in the golden age of Hollywood, Marlene Dietrich insured her singular singing voice for $1m and Bette Davis insured her waistline. If she gained too much weight, she would also gain $28,000. Win-win, Miss Davis.Women’s bodies have been a hardy perennial in the history of odd insurance. America Ferrera’s smile ($10m), Dolly Parton’s bust ($600,000) and Mariah Carey’s legs ($1bn, I kid you not) have all been examined by the underwriters.

A story about Jennifer Lopez’s fundament having been insured for $300m may or may not be without foundation.Interestingly, supermodel Heidi Klum’s legs are insured for different sums. Her perfect right leg is valued at $1.2m but her left lower limb, flawed as it is by a small scar on the knee, only commands a lowly $1m.

Not unreasonably, some sports stars take out substantial policies to cover their finely honed limbs against damage. In 2006, England’s golden boy David Beckham took out a £100m policy to cover his legs against accidental loss or damage.

You don’t have to be at the top of football’s money tree to protect your assets. Superfan Paul Hucker paid £100 plus £5 insurance tax for a World Cup All Risks Insurance policy that would that would insure him against “psychological trauma” and pay out £1m if the England team were adjudged by a panel of experts to have been knocked out earlier than they deserved.

Talented performers in other fields have protected their key assets too. Comedian Ken Dodd put a £4m price tag on his teeth and leather-lunged Voice judge and all-round silver fox Sir Tom Jones once insured his manly pelt of chest hair for $7m.

Rolling Stones indestructible riff machine Keith Richards has insured just one finger for $1.6m. Considering the impact of his idiosyncratic guitar style on the multimillion-selling Stones, that seems a little under-insured. Contemporary croaker Rod Stewarthas valued his voice at $6m.

And it’s not just individuals who have ventured into the wilder fringes of insurance. In 2001 The National Sealife Centre in Birmingham, which had recently taken delivery of a Japanese giant crab, insured itself for £1m against claims by any visitors who were fatally nipped by the beast.

A year later the Royal Falcon Hotel in Lowestoft insured its staff and customers for a similar sum if death or disability resulted from any ghostly phenomena on the premises.
From phantoms to fingers and crabs to crossed eyes, it seems you really can get insurance for anything. Makes you feel a bit unimaginative just getting pet insurance for the family moggie, doesn’t it?Always consult a financial adviser before taking advice. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Sainsbury’s Bank.
Source: theguardian