From Luxury Items to Body Parts: Insurance Policies of the Rich and Famous
When it comes to protecting assets and covering liabilities, no one has more to lose than the renowned—and loaded.
In fact, insurance carriers who provide the rich and famous coverage for luxury items like furs, boats, jewelry and mansions say business is booming.
Not only are the wealthy insuring personal possessions to the hilt; they're also buying personal liability coverage in record amounts, purchasing coverage for special events and, in some cases, insuring body parts vital to their livelihoods.
Insuring Body Parts
Customized for out-of-the-ordinary items and situations, insurance for the wealthy often covers unusual body parts considered vital to the rich and famous way of life. Consider these personalities and their body-part insurance policies.
- A Dutch winemaker recently insured his nose for a cool $7.8 million to protect his business investment.
- Heidi Klum, a German supermodel, signed a deal to promote Epilady, a hair-removal product. Braun, the product's manufacturer, took out a million-dollar insurance policy on her legs to "protect her contract."
- In 1998, ballplayer Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals raced Sammy Sosa to break Roger Maris' home run record. Prior to doing so, the Cardinals insured McGwire's ankle, which was giving him trouble at the time, for $12 million.
- America Ferrara, better known as "Ugly Betty," insured her radiant smile for $10 million.
- Dolly Parton insured her 42-inch bust for $600,000.
- Gene Simmons, of the rock band Kiss, insured his freakishly long tongue for $1 million.
- Bette Davis insured her waistline.
Unique Coverage for a Unique Lifestyle
During times of economic downturn, the affluent face legal and financial exposure virtually unknown to the less well-to-do.
As others struggle to survive, the rich and famous work hard to hang on to what they have, often becoming favorite targets of litigation in the process. Covering this kind of susceptibility requires unique insurance coverage, sold in the form of liability insurance sometimes purchased in amounts upward of $100 million in value.
Many jet-setters also step up protection levels by purchasing umbrella insurance, intended to increase the coverage levels normal insurance policies provide, in excess of $5 or 10 million, according to Derek Ross, vice president of CM Meiers Co., an insurance brokerage in Woodland Hills, California. This helps guard valuable possessions unique to the wealthy lifestyle.
With so much to protect, insurers say wealthy individuals are becoming wise to their unique insurance needs and buying more specialty insurance than ever before.
"I think we're dealing with a savvy insurance customer: individuals with assets that need to be properly insured," Ross says.
Catering to the Wealthy
Whether insuring expensive possessions, protecting against liability or supporting careers with body part insurance, the rich and famous face many insurance anomalies uncommon in other circles.
Thus the need for specialty insurance: the rich man's answer to risk and wealth.