Category Archives: Coverage

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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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Am I Covered?

Here’s a great article about Homeowners’ Insurance by Mary Snider, CLU, CPCU, State Farm® agent:

Some of you may be asking yourself, “Does my insurance coverage fit my needs?” “Do I have enough coverage to replace my home in the event of a serious loss?” “What affects my premium?”

These questions create a need for you to regularly review your Homeowners Insurance and to consider other questions such as: “Have you recently remodeled or improved your home?” “Has the rate of inflation risen since your last appraisal?” “What influences the building construction costs in your area?”

As you consider these issues, it is important to understand that real estate values measure the market value or selling price for a home. For insurance purposes, it is important to estimate the current replacement cost which is the amount needed to hire a contractor to repair the damage or to rebuild the home to its pre-loss condition. Dwelling replacement costs used by insurance companies do not include the value of the land. Market conditions in your area may impact the amount it will cost to rebuild your home if you experience a loss.

Building contractors or professional replacement cost appraisers are a good source for obtaining an estimated replacement cost for your home. Estimates from these sources should reflect your home’s specific features and details. If you are unable to obtain a detailed estimate from these sources, I can help provide an estimate.

Once you know the estimated cost to replace your home, you can decide how much insurance coverage fits your needs. You should also consider other policy endorsements such as back up of sewer and drain coverage, or additional coverage for personal articles with high values such as jewelry, fine arts, and collectibles.

You may want to consider higher personal liability coverage or the need for Flood Insurance which is provided by a separate policy. In addition to the amount of coverage you decide to purchase, your premium is impacted by optional endorsements you select, your claim history, the amount of your deductible, company longevity and multiple policy discounts such as home/auto.

Finally, remember to periodically review your insurance coverage with your agent. That will ensure you have the coverage you need.

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If you have any questions, feel free to email me!

Ellen