Life and auto insurance are not generally the sort of topics that ignite conversation. Chances are, you have never read your insurance policy from cover to cover and if you brought up your latest insurance deductible on a daily basis, you may find yourself rapidly losing friends. However, there are some lesser-known forms of auto and life insurance that are screaming to be discussed. A number of them are new to the market and others are veterans in the insurance space. Here are five of the most unusual. (For more, check out The History Of Insurance.)
TUTORIAL: Intro To Insurance
Insurance on the Playa
This is not an insurance created especially for those with a penchant for beach holidays. Rather, it is a unique program, launched in June by Heffernan Insurance Brokers, that offers coverage for participants of Burning Man. From the outset it sounds like an oxymoron. Burning Man is a weeklong communal artistic experience that occurs at the end of summer each year in Nevada's Black Rock Desert and culminates in the ceremonial torching of a giant humanoid figure.
Not surprisingly, participants have traditionally found it hard to secure insurance. However, as 'burners' themselves, Heffernan's Amy Vitarelli and Ben Stern spent two years developing the unique coverage that provides liability for theme camps, art cars and art installations as well as coverage for owned or rented property. There is no insurance requirement for the festival but, for those who want the extra coverage, they can pay a premium of $500 to $850 for Heffernan's offering.
Food Truck Insurance
From the east coast to the west coast, mobile food vendors are more popular than ever before. There are estimated to be 8,000 to 10,000 rolling restaurants in Los Angeles County alone, and 10,000 between Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas, according to Ron Ortega, program manager of Whorton Insurance Services in Austin. Traditional taco trucks are now vying for curbside attention against gourmet lobster rolls and grilled cheese, and the burgeoning market is ripe for a specialty insurance program. Food truck purveyors originally had to piece together their own protection to cover food borne illness, fire and auto accidents. In order to develop that into one policy, Ortega developed the nation's first Mobile Food Vendor Insurance (MFVI). "Costs vary by state and region, but on average, premiums range from $2,500 to $3,500 for $1 million to $2 million general liability and $1 million auto liability, including physical damage on a stated amount basis," Ortega says.
Pet Auto Insurance
Many owners cherish their pets and would not hesitate to call them part of their family. With the rising cost of medical treatments on offer, medical pet insurance has seen increased interest in recent years, and auto insurance agencies did not want to be left behind in catering to man's best friend. Now special car insurance covers the cost of care if pets are injured in an auto accident. Progressive was the first to offer pet coverage in 2007 and companies such as Chubb and Arbella have followed suit. While Progressive and Arbella's coverage only applies to cats and dogs, Chubb's customers can protect everything from their pet lizard to their exotic parrot. Chubb only draws the line at animals used for income generation such as racehorses.
Body Parts Insurance
Entertainment companies, television networks and sports teams may be tempted to insure the body parts of their star to account for any job-stopping injury, Over the years, a number of celebrities have insured their own notable body parts. Singers Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart have insured their voices, Lloyds of London recently insured the smile of Ugly Betty star, America Ferrera for $10 million and back in 1940, Betty Grable insured her legs for $1 million. However, you don't have to be a celebrity to qualify for this type of insurance. Anyone who is willing to pay the premium can order specialty insurance for any body part they wish.
Kidnapping and Ransom Insurance
Kidnapping and ransom insurance is one of the most complex and bizarre insurance policies available. It is largely aimed at those companies or individuals who are working in high-risk areas that tend to have high crime rates and a history of kidnapping workers. The coverage is designed to cover anything from a crisis response team and money spent on a ransom to medical expenses and counseling. However, with this coverage, the employee cannot know that it exists for them or the corporation, and if they do find out then the policy may be declared void. So you may have kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance, and not have any idea.
The Bottom line
This is only a small sampling of the baffling variety of unusual and specific insurance policies that cover most situations you can imagine. There are risks inherent in most, if not all, parts of our lives and we could all choose to cover ourselves entirely for every eventuality. Most people are covered comprehensively by their standard auto or life insurance, but there are always premiums that can be bought if you believe that your needs are not being met. (For more unusual insurance policies, read 5 Bizarre Insurance Policies.)