Antidote to alien impregnation? Insurance

May 21, 2007 @ 12:01 am

By Gary S. Mogel

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy insurance that covers the additional costs of misfortune.

Financial and insurance advisers who think they can’t do anything about the weather, affairs of the heart or the splitting of embryos risk hearing the most dreaded start to a client’s insurance question: “Why didn’t you tell me I could have bought ...”

Lovers want to cancel their wedding? Insurable, including counseling for emotional distress.

Honeymooners have to cut their trip short? Insurable, including evacuation from any locale, no matter how remote.

Couples incur extra expenses from having twins? Insurable, including the cost of extra diapers — but not the diapers that would have had to be purchased anyway due to a single birth.

Parents buy the twins a pony that promptly dies? Insurable, except for swamp fever, which many policies exclude.

These things aren’t as high in the financial-needs hierarchy as coverage on human lives, health and homes. But many clients who are alive, healthy and adequately housed have become extremely annoyed with the insurance advice — or lack of it — provided by their trusted financial professionals.

Passengers on the cruise ship Empress of the North, which ran aground off the Alaska coast this month, may wish they’d had some vacation insurance. Coverage for a full year of trips is available for $325.

Advisers may be proud that the Section 529 college savings plan that they recommended pays for the college education of a client’s child. Judicious investments may even make it possible for the client to throw a $15,000 graduation party.

But if the party is canceled due to storms along the East Coast that make it impossible for guests to travel, celebration insurance covers the non-refundable expenses and can purchased for as little as $95.

But if the adviser didn’t know the coverage existed, if and when the clients find out, lucrative retirement assets may be moved to a rival firm.

Advisers with clients who play golf should recommend a form of “hole in one” coverage that insures the cost of the traditional buying of beverages by the lucky duffer afterward. Often, everyone on the course — and many others — flocks to the 19th hole to celebrate.

Insurers that specialize in such exotic policies include American International Group Inc. in New York, The Chubb Corp. in Warren, N.J., and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in Novato, Calif.

Also not to be ignored are clients’ expensive hobbies and collections. Homeowners’ policies often limit or exclude such property.

For instance, wine collections can be ruined due to sudden changes in temperature that cause corks to spontaneously pop, and there are policies that cover such popping.

Works of art can be unexpectedly and embarrassingly damaged. This year, when casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn accidentally poked a hole in a $54 million Picasso painting while showing it off to friends in his Las Vegas office, Lloyd’s of London balked at paying, as the damage was “self-inflicted.”

Where there are wealthy clients there will be clients with eccentricities. Advisers must seek insurance covering risks associated with the eccentric in England, which specializes in that demographic.

Protection against abduction by aliens from outer space, being hit by an asteroid and John Wayne Bobbitt-style mutilation have been requested often enough to create a market. Policies are offered by

London-based broker Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson, which specializes in disability insurance from a wide variety of causes.

There was a rider to the abduction policy covering impregnation by aliens while onboard their spaceship. About 4,000 alien policies were purchased, and 300 of those included the pregnancy rider, according to the firm.

The policy was discontinued after members of a cult made excessive claims.

In addition, there are policies covering injuries inflicted by a ghost, and turning into a werewolf or vampire due to bites or other causes. None of these events is likely to occur, so insurance amounts are generous ($1 million or more), and premiums are small ($150 or less).

Advisers should consider these policies for clients for whom they may be appropriate.

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