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Bizarro World of Lloyds of London

bw-4The terms bizarro world and Lloyd’s of London don’t automatically go together. Lloyd’s of London is a corporation that functions as a “specialist insurance market,” which means you go there when you need weird coverage normal insurance companies won’t touch.

Basically Lloyd’s serves as a place where investors or groups of investors finance insurance policies on specific items or activities such as the production of a movie. The payoff is potentially really big but so are the losses.

Bizarro world refers to a plot in 1960s Superman comic books. Bizarro world was an alien planet inhabited by insane clones of Superman and Lois Lane. Everything on Bizarro world was twisted and the reverse of Earth. To ordinary people and those in the regular insurance business Lloyd’s looks a lot like a Bizarro world of insurance.

Bizzaro Insurance

The reason Lloyd’s looks like a Bizzaro world is that you can insure anything there if you can find somebody to finance the policy. Over the years Lloyd’s investors have insured some pretty bizarre stuff including:

  • The waxed mustache of legendary Australian cricket player Merv Hughes insured for $370,000 to protect it from being hit by a hard wooden cricket ball. Hughes dropped the policy after he retired from cricket in 1995.
  • The taste buds of food critic Egon Ronay. In 1957, Ronay insured his taste buds, the basis of his career and his family’s income for $400,000.
  • The hands of 13-year old world Yo-Yo champion Harvey Lowe. In 1932, the Cheerio Yo-Yo Company, Lowe’s sponsor insured his hands for $150,000 at the height of the Great Depression.bg-5
  • The legs of movie star and World War II pinup girl Betty Grable. Grable was one of the top box office attractions of the 1940s so 20th Century Fox studios insured her legs for $2 million. It’s obvious that Grable wasn’t hired for her acting ability. Grable wasn’t the last person whose legs were protected. Heidi Klum’s legs are insured for $2.2 million by Braun.
  • The policy on Grable’s gams was nothing compared to that taken out on the legs of Michael Flately the star of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. Flately’s legs were insured for $47 million, probably because they were the key to the stage shows’ successes.
  • During the 1980s  Bruce Springsteen insured his vocal chords for $6 million. Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart are among the other legendary singers with similar policies.
  • The comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Abbott and Costello had one of the most bizarre policies of all. They had a $250,000 insurance policy against the breakup of their act probably to cover debts.
  • The teeth of British comedian Ken Dodd. Dodd once insured his teeth, one of his trademarks for $7.4 million.
  • Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu’s hair. Proctor and Gamble which makes Head and Shoulders shampoo reportedly has the safety’s legendary locks insured for $1 million against a bad hair day. Polamalu is Head and Shoulder’s spokesman.
  • Keith Richards’ fingers. The Rolling Stones’ guitarist has insured his fingers for $1.5 million in case he can’t play.
  • The tongue of professional coffee taster Gennaro Pelliccia. Pelliccia’s tongue is insured for $14 million at Lloyd’s. That’s rather curious because Lloyd’s started life as a coffee house in the 18th Century. Pelliccia isn’t the only one whose tongue is insured, KISS mastermind Gene Simmons’ has insured his legendary tongue for $1 million.

It is easy to see why Lloyd’s of London is the Bizarro world of insurance. It will insure anything, the anecdotes here are the tip of the iceberg. There are probably other Lloyd’s policies that make these examples seem sane in comparison.