Interesting insurance facts

Moon landingIf you thought insurance was boring: think again. We’ve been trawling the web to find interesting insurance facts and have uncovered some that should raise an eyebrow:

The first documented system of insurance can be found in Code of Hammurabi a Babylonian text dating back to 1750 BC. The legal code allowed merchants to pay a fee to safeguard the shipment of marine cargo against loss or theft.

Modern day insurance was born in the flames of the Great Fire of London. Until the middle of the 17th century insurance was largely restricted to shipping, but in the aftermath of 1666 underwriters began offering protection for buildings and later expanded into other areas of business.

Today insurance comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but perhaps one of the most peculiar policies is ‘hole-in-one’ insurance. Golfers can add ‘big tournament tension’ to their games by offering serious prizes (up to £1million) for anyone who gets a hole-in-one.

The word ‘insurance’ is derived from the French ‘ensurer’ (en ‘make’ + sur ‘secure’) and originally meant an ‘engagement to marry’. Over time the word evolved to become ‘assurance’ and later ‘insurance’ with its modern meaning.

Back in the 1940’s publicists first realised the potential fire power of using insurance to hit the headlines. The PR masterminds looking after American pin-up Betty Grable got in touch with Lloyds of London and arranged for each of her legs to be insured for $1million; giving her the nickname ‘the girl with the million dollar legs’.

Today sports personalities and stars of the silver screen regularly use insurance to make a media splash, from rock legend Gene Simmons insuring his tongue for $1million to Dolly Parton insuring her breasts for $300,000 each. And the trend isn’t restricted to real life celebrities; Britain’s favourite fox Basil Brush had his tail insured for £1million.

In Japan life insurance policies will pay out if the policyholder commits suicide.  A quarter of suicides are thought to be financially motivated and life insurance is often cited as one of the reasons for the country’s high suicide rate.

The UK has the third largest insurance industry in the world handling a staggering £1.8trillion worth of investment and employing 320, 000 people.

Unable to find affordable life insurance for the first moon landing the NASA astronauts on Apollo 11 had to come-up with another plan to provide financial security if the mission went wrong. After some creative brainstorming they came-up with the idea of issuing ‘insurance covers’. The limited edition signed postal covers were only to be sold if the astronauts died when presumably their value would skyrocket. While the mission was a success the ‘insurance covers’ somehow found their way into the market and are highly collectable today.

When Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010 it caused a giant ash cloud that grounded flights across Europe and left 10 million airline passengers stranded. Fortunately, the eruption didn’t cost any lives, but it did cost the insurance industry over €2.5 billion in compensation; the largest insurance payout in history.

Jackie Chan’s martial arts moves are known for packing a punch and given the risks he takes it’s hardly surprising that insurance companies won’t touch him. To help safeguard his crew he set-up the Jackie Chan Stuntmen Association where he trains all stuntmen and pays their medical bills from his own funds.


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