Alien abduction insurance
| The woo is out there|
|Aliens did it...|
|... and ran away|
Alien abduction insurance is insurance covering people against abduction by aliens, to provide a cash payment, and cover costs arising from any abduction.
It is an example of niche insurance, where companies offer policies covering unlikely or specific events. A number of other equally unlikely things can also be insured against, including ghosts and werewolves, if you can find a willing insurance company.
Lloyds of London, one of the world's oldest and most famous insurance markets, claims to have 20,000 policies against alien abduction. In 2000 The Telegraph newspaper reported that 37,000 people were insured against alien abduction.
A Florida company, UFO Abduction Insurance Co, introduced policies in the late 1980s, offering a policy with US$10 million for $19.95; it reportedly covered you for "psychiatric care and sarcasm protection". Their product appeared to be designed as a humorous item or gag gift, with their application form asking questions including "Do you take this seriously?" However, other companies are less keen on letting punters in on the joke.
One of the obvious problems is that in order to claim, you would have to prove that you (or the person insured) were abducted by aliens, rather than disappearing for some other reason.
The Heaven's Gate cult reportedly took out a GRIP policy costing US$1000 on its members which would pay out $1m each in the event of alien abduction; 39 later committed suicide hoping to be resurrected by aliens. The policy did not pay out. GRIP temporarily suspended sales in the aftermath; it appears this was due to worries about having to pay out rather than concern over the deaths. The insurers were apparently seriously worried by the prospect that the policy could be claimed upon, as a jury in a subsequent court case could conceivably decide they were abducted by aliens. As it happened, the inquest was clear that the cause of death was suicide, which GRIP took as justification not to pay out.
The only apparent claim under alien abduction insurance was made in 1996. However it has been variously described as a "publicity stunt" and "scam". Joe Tagliarini aka Joseph Carpenter, a part-time electrician, claimed to have been abducted by aliens in England, and produced photographs and what was claimed to be a transparent alien claw as evidence. GRIP proudly announced the claim and Gillian Anderson, who played an investigator of unexplained phenomena including UFOs in the TV series The X-Files, was engaged to present him with a cheque. It emerged that Simon Burgess of GRIP had been colluding with Tagliarini and Carpenter: the whole thing was a fake, and no payment was made.
Other niche insurance
Werewolf and vampire insurance
Virgin birth insurance
Another reported wacky insurance is against conceiving without having sex. British insurance firm Britishinsurance.com, based in Braintree, Essex, insured 3 women from Inverness, Scotland for GBP 1 million each to cover the cost of raising a child, charging 100 pounds per year from 2000 to 2006. Eventually they cancelled the policy after receiving complaints, and claimed the premiums had been donated to charity.
- See the Wikipedia article on Niche insurance.
- 10 most unusual insurance policies, Sun Life blog, 2 February 2015
- Do you really need alien insurance?, The Telegraph, 28 June 2000
- Don't sweat alien threat, SF Gate, October 18, 1998
- The Alien Abduction Insurance Scam, MJ Wayland, August 16, 2015
- Cult insured against aliens, The Independent, 30 March 1997
- Aliens leave no claims bonus untouched, The Independent, 18 December 1996
- Sisters lose second coming cover, BBC, 22 June 2006