We spend so much of our time making plans — for today, tomorrow, for that dream vacation we hope to take someday, for our children’s future. But there’s an old Yiddish saying: We plan, God laughs. Because while plans are all fine and well, life has a way of messing with them. And that’s fine too because there’s a safety net — called insurance — that’s there to catch us when plans go awry. So keep planning for the good stuff — but make sure you’re covered when life doesn’t go exactly as planned.
In today’s Daily Dose, we dive into the world of insurance, from how it started to what its future looks like — plus a peek at celebrities who have insured everything from their thumbs to their vocal cords and how you can insure yourself against alien abduction. Because you just never know.
Pallabi Munsi, reporter
how it began
1. The Very First
The concept of insurance has been around since the dawn of civilization. A Babylonian monument with Hammurabi’s seminal legal code carved into it around 1750 B.C. reflects the earliest-known laws on insurance. Under these laws — written on a stone slab and discovered in southeast Iran in 1901 — loans were waived if debtors died, became disabled or were victims of natural catastrophes. Merchants who took loans related to the shipments of goods could have the loans forgiven if the ship got robbed or lost at sea. All you had to do was pay a surcharge to the lender, aka the first known insurance premium. Written in cuneiform script and the Akkadian language, these laws are now kept at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
2. Spreading Globally
The first U.S. insurer rose from the embers of Philadelphia’s highly destructive 1730 fire, which began on a ship and spread to the wharf, burning down multiple homes and warehouses. The city would not create a municipal fire department for another 150 years, but Benjamin Franklin, dismayed by the extent of the destruction, led the effort to form a fire insurance company. In 1752, the first American insurance company — Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insuring of Houses from Loss by Fire — was established.
3. Why Stop There?
Soon after, in 1759, Presbyterian Ministers’ Fund became the first life insurance company in the American colonies, sparking a trend that would see at least 17 life insurance companies operating in New York state alone by 1820.
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Early! Sure, it’s never too late to get insured if disaster has yet to strike, but the smarter move is to expect the unexpected and make sure you’re covered. Besides, as you get older, life insurance premiums typically rise.
2. Most Sought-After
Life insurance is the most popular form of coverage, constituting nearly half of the global insurance market. Not surprisingly, however, given the times we live in, health insurance and property and casualty insurance are the segments that are growing the fastest.
3. The Future
Look to the East, and specifically China. Global insurance premiums have now crossed $5 trillion — a figure that’s bigger than Japan’s economy. By the end of this decade, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to account for 42 percent of premiums — and by the mid-2030s, China is poised to emerge as the world’s largest insurance market.
See a new side of Caitlyn. Olympic gold medalist and reality star Caitlyn Jenner talks parenting, politics and mental health on today’s episode. As one of the country’s most visible trans women, Caitlyn reveals what she thinks were her failures as an activist and spills just a couple of secrets about the Kardashian/Jenner clan. It’s an episode you won’t want to miss!
Climate change is a major, worldwide crisis. But the insurance industry is adapting to offer solutions that can mitigate our risks from global warming. From the giants of the industry to new age innovators, they’re turning to smart tech, reshaping the industry and offering the planet a glimmer of hope.
Ntando Kubheka watched tropical storm Domoina destroy the southern end of Africa in 1984, leveling his mud shack. Today, the 40-year-old entrepreneur is on a mission to help millions of South Africans avoid a similar fate. He’s helping those who live in shacks or homes without title deeds gain access to home insurance.
No one’s arguing that Bruce Springsteen doesn’t have a fabulous voice, but $6 million fabulous? That’s how much his distinctly raspy voice was insured for in 1988 by Lloyd’s of London. And while his sound is unique, he’s certainly not the only singer to protect their most valuable asset. Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart also insured their vocal cords so they’d be compensated for lost work.
2. Daddy Long Legs
In 2006, Mariah Carey became the Gillette brand muse for the advertising campaign “Legs of a Goddess.” And quite understandably, the goddess took out an insurance policy worth $1 billion to protect her legs. Taylor Swift would follow suit. At only 28, the “Cardigan” singer decided to purchase a $44 million policy for her legs before going on tour.
3. That Infectious Smile
If there’s one thing you can count on from Julia Roberts, aka America’s sweetheart, it’s her dazzling talent — and megawatt smile. Which is why she’s made sure to protect it. The actress’ smile is covered by a $30 million insurance policy.
4. Under Your Thumb
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso insured his thumbs — for $13 million — in 2010, days before the Spanish Grand Prix, as part of a publicity campaign by the Spanish bank Santander to promote a new product.
Back in 1974, leftist guerrillas in Argentina kidnapped Juan and Jorge Born, executives at the grain exporter Bunge & Born. Their company and loved ones came through with a ransom of $275 million (in today’s dollars) — the biggest confirmed ransom ever paid — for their safe return. Jorge Born allegedly participated in the ransom negotiation — even talking the kidnappers down from a higher figure — and the traumatic episode led to a new piece of the insurance market: kidnapping coverage.
2. Close Encounters
Between 1947 and 1969, the U.S. military conducted research on more than 700 unidentified objects they had sighted. Are you worried about alien invasions like me — or, worse, alien abductions? If so, then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got alien abduction insurance. Yes, it’s a real thing (just like aliens) and no, you’re not the only one clever enough to think it’s a good idea. Also known as UFO insurance, these policies are quite popular in Europe, and more than 30,000 have been sold to people in the U.K. I do wonder, though, what currency aliens would prefer for the ransom.
There’s the till death do you part part, but what if you never make it out of the starting gate? The wedding venue is rented, caterers hired, band booked and then … well, anything can happen. So taking out wedding insurance could be a wise move. How else can you protect yourself from financial losses in case you need to cancel — whether because of cold feet, a natural catastrophe or illness? In fact, if you’re planning a destination wedding, the policy will also safeguard you from liabilities resulting from storms and such — and some policies even protect couples forced to cancel their honeymoons.