Insurance for . . . zombie attacks?
Well, no. But in a shaky economy, obscure insurance -- including coverage against kidnapping, divorce and having twins -- is a rare growth industry.
This post comes from Anne Kadet at partner site SmartMoney.
It's already been quite a year. So far we've endured wars, riots, nuclear meltdowns, crazy weather, a bipolar stock market and a failed apocalypse. Is it any wonder that one of the few bright lights in this asthmatic economy is insurance?
These days, folks hoping to hedge their risks in what feels like an increasingly insecure world can buy policies to insure against identify theft, gadget obsolescence, having twins, kidnapping and divorce. Online scribes invest in blogger policies; anxious brides are buying wedding insurance.
And, of course, if you're concerned about tangling with the undead, a contract with the Zombie Apocalypse Insurance Co. ($15 a year) provides peace of mind, not to mention post-attack car repair, home reconstruction and, if necessary, relocation to a zombie-free locale. (This is not really an insurance company, folks, as the terms and conditions explain.)
Far-fetched or not, providers of niche hedge products say demand just keeps growing. In this risk-averse era, when children wear helmets on the playground and museum guards search our handbags for bombs, Americans will do anything to sustain the illusion that failure and loss can be avoided, given a little careful planning. Consumer spending remains sluggish, but the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association says spending on long-term-care and disability policies grew more than a third in 2011.
Not all these products are new: A.W.G. Dewar has provided tuition insurance since 1930. Aon Affinity's WedSafe wedding policies have been available for more than a decade, insuring folks against wedding-day hurricanes, blackouts and, worst of all, no-show photographers. Wedding-cancellation policies, which cover deposit losses and trauma counseling, can run several hundred dollars. Post continues after video.
But many hedge products, like Argo Insurance Group's blogger liability coverage and Best Buy's gadget Buy Back Program, are relatively recent innovations. This summer Assura Group launched IncomeAssure, which provides supplemental unemployment insurance in the event of a layoff. And it wasn't until last year that squabbling couples were introduced to SafeGuard Guaranty Corp.'s WedLock divorce insurance, which covers $1,250 in expenses for every $16 in monthly premiums.
The hitch, of course, is that no insurance product completely shields you from catastrophe. If you get laid off, IncomeAssure covers only half your old salary for 24 weeks. A spokesperson says it's intended to close the gap created by state caps on unemployment insurance for higher-income workers.
Steve Dasseos, founder of TripInsuranceStore.com, says most travel insurance policies refund just a portion of your deposits. And while it may cover legal bills and the cost of creating a second household, divorce insurance won't mend a broken heart.
But these limitations can't squelch demand, no matter how remote the threat. Bart Centre, the retired New Hampshire retail executive behind Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, says he's sold 263 pet-care contracts to Christians concerned about dogs and kitties left behind in the Rapture.
For $135, clients can count on pet-rescue services provided by one of 46 atheists who are guaranteed to remain on earth after the Second Coming. The only factor suppressing sales, he says, is the notion that the Rapture will be followed by Armageddon. Who wants a policy for Fido, he says, "when the world's going to end 20 minutes later?"
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