Some of the more ‘famous’ insurance policies that have existed over the years include the legs of Fred Astaire and the hands of Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards.
It’s not every day that a Lloyd’s underwriter is approached to insure a celebrity’s chest hair, but for Jonathan Thomas, active underwriter at Lloyd’s insurer Creechurch, it’s all in a day’s work.
“Admittedly, this is one of the most obscure requests I’ve had – but I still came up with a wording that addressed the need,” he says.
At first glance, insuring chest hair might seem silly, but there is a serious issue behind it. Some celebrities depend on certain aspects of themselves for their fame and, perhaps more importantly, their fortune. Whether it’s their legs, their voice, their face or, well, their chest hair, if they lose it, they could lose their livelihood.
And this is where key man insurance comes in. Common in the business world, it can cover organisations if the loss of a major asset leads to a loss of money.
Some of the more ‘famous’ insurance policies that have existed over the years include the legs of Fred Astaire, Betty Grable and Angie Dickinson; the hands of French pianist Richard Clayderman, Liberace and Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards; restaurateur Egon Ronay’s taste buds, and actor Ken Dodd’s teeth – reportedly covered for £4 million.
A significant amount of Thomas’ work focuses on these more specialist forms of key man insurance, helping to deal with what happens if individuals are ‘disabled’ in some way.
“This type of cover is very specialist,” he explains. “Lloyd’s is therefore perfectly placed to do it. We have the flexibility to accommodate particular needs which may not fit in to an average company’s policy – so perfectly illustrated in the chest hair example.”
More unusual forms of disability coverage are not normally covered in the average policy, but as Thomas explains: “Where partial disability of particular body parts or senses could affect income and profitability, that’s when bespoke requirements need to be addressed and fulfilled.”
He adds: “In most cases, it’s a third party that’s buying the cover. For example, a football club insuring a major star, or a football agent who could potentially lose earnings if the footballer is injured.”
And the recent news that TV entertainers Ant and Dec have allegedly insured each other’s lives for a reported £2 million is the latest in a long line of famous duos who have done the same. This includes Tiger Woods’ caddy, who has a policy to protect against his master’s early death, and the Las Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy, whose claimed on their policy when Roy was mauled by their trademark tiger.
So what’s the future for this type of insurance – and will it increase in line with the onslaught of reality-TV bred “celebrities”?
“I think there may be a slight rise in this type of insurance for policies which affect the aesthetic damage of actresses and models,” says Thomas. “But the core of this type of cover will involve one aspect of disability for those with extraordinary requirements which can be catered for so well by Lloyd’s.”