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Insurance for body parts has long been part of our cultural mythology. Jennifer Lopez has been dogged by rumors her ass is insured for years, and those rumors persist even though she’s denied them. There are reports that Dolly Parton’s breasts are insured, and Heidi Klum has been open about how both her legs are insured for about a million bucks each—though one is worth less than the other because of a scar. The concept can appeal regular people, too: Dove Hair and Progressive Insurance are currently collaborating on a “Hair Assurance” coverage policy worth up to $100. (It’s actually a sweepstakes where winners get a $100 gift card to be used at a salon, but you get what they’re going for.)
What about body-part insurance that isn’t a sweepstakes or a (rumored) $27 million butt policy? Is there some middle ground that regular consumers should be aware of? Of course there is. Here’s what you need to know about body-part insurance, even if you’re not Heidi Klum.
Why would you insure a body part?
Klum explained that it wasn’t her choice to insure her legs, but a client did it for her. That makes sense: Those legs are, in a sense, one of Klum’s big money-makers, since she earns her living as a model. By extension, they’re also a big money-maker for the brands that hire her.
If one of your body parts is directly tied to your ability to make money, it could be worth insuring. You insure other things that would be financially devastating to lose, like your car and your home, so it sort of makes sense. With an insurance policy, you make up lost money in the event the insured item is damaged. If something were to happen to Klum’s legs, her career would take a big hit, which is where the insurance money comes in.
A carpenter, hair stylist, sign language interpreter, or pianist could, in theory, insure their hands. A coach could insure their feet. A firefighter or police officer could insure their body, since they can throw themselves into dangerous situations. Famously, Edy’s Grand Ice Cream insured the taste buds of its top taster, and Somerfield grocers did the same for its head wine buyer in the early 2000s.
Policies like that can reach millions of dollars, of course—the big, shocking numbers are why we talk about them at all. In fact, the Somerfield thing was concocted by a PR agency in the first place, proving the insurance was less about the wine buyer’s all-important taste buds and more about the attention and sales that would result from the announcement of the policy. The Dove Hair and Progressive Insurance collaboration calls on participants to purchase qualifying products, too. Even when investing in a policy or contest payout, brands do stand to gain something from the publicity around a big insurance push, which is not as true for the average person.
So, is it worth it for regular people to insure their body parts?
As fun as it might be to imagine insuring your hard-working hands or the smile you poured a small fortune into perfecting through orthodontic intervention, it might not really be feasible for you.
According to Slate, body-part insurance usually comes through the “surplus lines” market, where you’ll find policies that your average insurance company won’t provide. With specialty lines, you can expect higher premiums.
These lines are more widely available overseas, too, so factor that into your consideration. Some of the most high-profile celebrity body-part insurance policies come from Lloyds of London, which happily lists famous policies on its website.
What other body-part insurance options do you have?
We’re not saying you definitely shouldn’t take your hard-earned money across the pond and start paying big premiums on a surplus line if a body part of yours is truly that special, but you do have less drastic options.
Petra Insurance Brokers cautions that “the average person could probably settle for a more general health insurance policy,” for instance.
Then there’s disability insurance. That is something pretty accessible and commonplace for us plebs. Disability insurance is a policy that gives income to a person who can’t work anymore because of a disability, whether that’s caused by an accident or an illness. Employers, Social Security, and insurance companies offer these types of policies in short- and long-term coverage options. Your employer probably offers this, so you should check with your human resources department if you’re not sure.
Instead of insuring one vital body part, consider a general disability insurance policy to cover all your bases and leave the million-dollar legs to the stars.