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Can Space Tourists Get Life Insurance? by Aaron Crowe

Astronaut

The Oct. 31 crash of a Virgin Galactic rocket that killed a pilot hasn’t stopped the company from continuing its quest to offer space tourists a chance to see the Earth from above, giving potential riders a chance to reconsider their life insurance options.

While life insurance might be the furthest thing from any space tourist’s mind, a loophole that allows current life insurance policyholders to retain such coverage if they fly into space remains, though the insurance industry may look to close it.

Skydivers, pilots and people with other high-risk jobs or hobbies must buy extra coverage on their life insurance policies. Space tourists, however, who either already have life insurance or are applying for a policy don’t have to mention their upcoming trip to space because insurers either don’t ask about space tourism or don’t exclude it from coverage.

The loophole means they’d likely have to pay if the policyholder died on a space trip.

There are little or no established life underwriting guidelines specifically for space flight, and such activity would probably be covered under common aviation clauses and exclusions, says Rob Drury, executive director of the Association of Christian Financial Advisors.

“For a life insurance company to deny coverage for space travel would require a specific exclusion of such activity,” Drury says. “If the current treatment of aviation activities is an indication, the greater likelihood is that a proposed insured would be underwritten at a higher risk class.”

Once a policy is issued, death benefits must be paid for any death regardless of cause, unless there is a finding of fraud, misrepresentation, or suicide within the policy’s contestability period of the first two policy years in most states, he says.

Coverage is provided by omission, meaning the underwriter doesn’t ask about an applicant’s plans to fly into space.

“If someone wants to run the bulls at Pamplona, his insurer might not like it, but they must pay in the event of death if the activity isn’t specifically excluded,” Drury says.

Astronauts are rated at $10 per $1,000 of coverage in addition to their approved rate based on amount of coverage, age and other factors, says Ellen Davis, president of Life Health Home Insurance Group. Space tourists can’t buy coverage yet, Davis says.

However, if the insurer doesn’t ask an applicant about space travel, then it would be covered under travel outside of the United States, she says.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight. The craft is designed to carry six passengers on two-hour suborbital flights that offer a few minutes of weightlessness. The company announced after the crash that it plans to continuing selling tickets at up to $250,000 per seat.

The good news is that while flying in a rocket sounds risky, even for insurers, not many people have died riding into space. No one has died in suborbital manned flights. There have been three fatal orbital space shots, including the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia with 14 deaths, and a Soyuz flight that killed one person.

Mention that to your underwriter next time you’re applying for insurance as a space tourist.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who specializes in content about personal finance and insurance.

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Is it chilly where you are?

If it is, or will be, this article is just for you:

Winterizing Your Home

This winter, do something to reduce your heating costs and make your house more energy efficient!

Furnace and Water Heater

Change your furnace filter once a month for a more energy efficient home. Have professional come inspect your furnace. If your furnace is fairly old, you may want to consider replacing it for a more energy-efficient model.

Insulate your water heater with an energy-saving foam or fiberglass blanket. Wrap the blanket around the water heater and then fasten it with water-proof duct tape. Keep your water heater set at 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Winterizing Windows

Check for any air leaks in your windows, such as through panes of glass or around the sides. Caulking and weather –stripping your windows is a quick and easy way to reduce drafts. Apply caulk in dry weather that is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent the caulk from swelling with moisture as well as ensuring that it adheres and sets properly. Weather stripping is vinyl, metal, rubber, felt or foam that is applied between the window sash and the frame to seal the area from air leaks. Simply cut it to fit between the sash and frame and drill pilot holes; next, use a screwdriver to screw the weather stripping into place.

Doors

Take a look at your door; can you see light coming in through the cracks or can you feel a draft from the cracks? Weather stripping is an answer. It’s also relatively easy to winterize your doors. The idea is to install weather stripping along the sides and top of the door and a door sweep along the bottom of the door on the inside. If your door threshold (or saddle) is rotten, you’ll want to get a professional to replace it first.

Measure and cut the door sweep to fit along the bottom, drill pilot holes and then screw the sweep to the door.

Then open the door to measure for the weather stripping. Cut the weather stripping to the appropriate lengths and then install it on the sides and top of the doorframe.

Roof

An efficient roof is the best weather proofing you can get – it will greatly reduce your heat costs. First, you need to check that roof from the outside. Here are a few areas that you want to check:

  • Gutters should be fastened securely to the roof
  • Check that the flashings are all intact
  • Make sure the roof is not missing any shingles, tiles, slates or nails
  • Take a look at the caulking to make sure it doesn’t need to be re-touched
  • Look for any warped or darker areas on the roof

If you’ve noticed any problems with the roof, it’s time to call a roofing professional to take a look and asses what needs to be done.

Walls

Check your electrical outlets for any spaces by taking off the outlet covers. You can buy foam that is fitted to the outlet that is easy to install.

You also need to check the outside walls of the house. Walk around the house with a caulk gun and caulk around pipes and spouts.

Basement

Be sure to caulk any drafts in your basement, such as around your dryer vent and any windows.

Using some of these tips on winterizing your home will save you money on your heating bill! You will also save money by lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop it by ten degrees during the night or while you’re away. You can purchase and install an automated thermostat in order to wake up to a warm house.

Stay warm and dry this winter!

Ellen