Insuring Body Parts
How and why
When taking out insurance on our homes, cars, etc. many of us might consider taking out insurance on our lives too. But for many of the world’s celebrities it seems that this is not enough: they like to insure their famous ‘parts’ as well. Over the years, celebrities have insured various body parts, and indeed, functions of their bodies, to protect their careers. Dancers insure their legs, singers insure their voices, and so on.
To do this they usually to go to the world’s biggest insurance market – Lloyd’s of London – which has been insuring people all over the world since the seventeenth century. There people can insure themselves against anything from natural disasters to abduction by Martians!
Who and what
There have been several well-known cases of celebrities insuring parts of their bodies over the years. It all seems to have started in the 1920s with an actor called Ben Turpin who insured his famously crossed eyes, upon which he based his career as an actor in silent movies. In 1940 Betty Grable (a famous actress, singer and dancer) became the first woman to have her legs insured for a million dollars. Since then several actresses and singers have taken her lead: Angie Dickinson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Brooke Shields and Tina Turner reportedly among them. But the trend is not confined to women – Michael Flatley, a dancer, Fred Astaire, a dancer, singer and actor, and David Beckham, a soccer player, have all had their legs insured for enormous sums.
However, it is not only legs that get insured. Celebrities in other professions insure against losing their livelihoods too. Musicians have insured fingers or whole hands. Pianists such as Liberace and Richard Clayderman have both insured their hands, as has Keith Richards, a guitarist for the Rolling Stones. Singers Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen both have their voices insured for millions.
The more unusual insurance policies taken out must include Bette Davis’ policy against putting on weight and Tom Jones’ policy to cover, not his famed singing voice, but his chest hair!
Even sexual attributes can be insured. Famous singer Dolly Parton has reputedly insured her generous breasts, and she is not alone in doing so. Topless dancers and porn stars are also keen to insure their ‘attributes’.
Over to you
So, bearing in mind that just about anything can be insured or insured against, if you had unlimited funds, which part (or parts) of your body would you insure..?
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. When taking out insurance on our homes, __________ etc., many of us might consider taking out insurance on our lives too.
2. Dancers insure their __________, singers insure their voices, and so on.
3. There have been several well-known cases of celebrities insuring parts of their bodies over the years. It __________ seems to have started in the 1920s with an actor called Ben Turpin.
4. __________ have insured fingers or whole hands.
5. So, bearing __________ mind that just about anything can be insured or insured against, if you had unlimited funds, which part (or parts) of your body would you insure..?
For use with Talking Point worksheets
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