Insurance companies of the United States and elsewhere are unwilling to take the risk of insuring the flight into space of space tourists even though the most outlandish of risks have previously been covered by them. But now they are unwilling to put any price on potential accidents in space.
“Space tourism involves significant risk, but is not an issue life insurers specifically ask about as yet because it is so rare for anyone to travel into space,” Insurance Information Institute (III) spokesperson Michael Barry said.
Brokers and insurers said that while the market for insuring satellites, rockets and unmanned space flight was valued at nearly $500 million, there is no requirement legally for an operator such as Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, to get insurance for injury or death of passengers or for any form of life cover for space tourists.
“We’re not aware of a case where anybody is insured against passenger liability,” Neil Stevens, senior vice president, aviation and space at Marsh (MMC.N), the world’s biggest insurance broker, told the3mdeia in an interview.
If the panned visit to space goes on as planned next month, the space travellers which will include Bezos and the other wannabe astronauts on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft will not only spend a number of minutes about 62 miles (100 km) above the earth in a truck-sized capsule but they will also have to come back sagely to earth.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is the only group that has regularly flown humans in sub-orbital heights since the 1960s. All the ventures were tests which comprised of one failure in 2014 which caused one casualty. According to Seradata SpaceTrak data showed on June 10, there have been no failures in the 15 unmanned sub-orbital flights that have so far been conducted by Blue Origin.
No comments on the reports were found from Bezos, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic.
However going to space uninsured is nothing new.
According to Richard Parker of Assure Space, a unit of insurer AmTrust Financial that provides space insurance, no liability cover is bought for human space missions by NASA and the United states in general, with launches by the government practically insured by taxpayers’ money.
A NASA spokesperson said that NASA astronauts are eligible for government life insurance programs.
For government-funded missions, the astronauts who are selected as done through careful selection based on their knowledge, skills and fitness and undergo training for several years before they venture into space.
“They and their families understand the risks of the work they do, Wetton said.
Wetton said that in contrast, only a few days of training for a sub-orbital flight or just a few months for a space trip to the International Space Station (ISS) would typically be available for commercial space cadets.
“These represent two very different risk profiles that insurers will take into account,” Wetton said.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)