Weird Insurance Policies

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(Businessweek) — How much is your arm worth? That’s nearly an unanswerable question. For some, it’s a necessary one. The arm of a professional football player, the leg of a famous dancer, or the tongue of a top-flight coffee taster may well hold exceptional economic value. Through the years, personal inventory items ranging from Bruce Springsteen’s voice to football player Troy Polamalu’s hair have been insured against damage. Sure, these policies double as publicity stunts, but they’re not all silliness. “You can make a good economic argument about why a particular actress’s cleavage is worth a lot of money to her,” says Jonathan Thomas, accident-and-health underwriter at Watkins Syndicate at Lloyd’s of London.  Thomas estimates that worldwide premiums for body-part insurance add up to $1 million to $2 million. Expand the market to include all one-off insured entities such as works of art, sporting events, and the production of movies and the premiums amount to billions, according to Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute.

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