Martyn James: And now for something completely different… from alien abduction to body piercing

Lots of people have told us lately that the relentless coronavirus news is getting them down. While tips, advice and support are vital during lockdown (get all the help you need at, we all need something a bit more light-hearted to get us through the day.
Dolly Parton insured her bust for up to £3.8m. Picture: Eamonn M McCormack/GettyDolly Parton insured her bust for up to £3.8m. Picture: Eamonn M McCormack/Getty
Dolly Parton insured her bust for up to £3.8m. Picture: Eamonn M McCormack/Getty

So come with us, as we take you through the wacky world of bizarre things you can insure.

Is this for real?

Unusual insurance policies are usually referred to as “specialist insurance” and include sensible things like funeral plans, gadget cover, wedding insurance and other policies you might actually have. However, if you can think of it, you can usually cover it. We’ve left off “immaculate conception insurance”, “zombie attack cover” and other similar policies despite the fact that they genuinely exist (check them out online).

Body parts

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What’s your best feature? Why not insure it? Body part insurance is adored by many celebrities and popularised by Betty Grable, who insured her legs for $1m (in 1948). Of course, it was a hugely successful publicity stunt - but this and the policies that followed were absolutely legitimate. Strange body parts insured by celebrities include two more pairs of legs belonging to David Beckham (£100m) and Michael “Riverdance” Flatley (£25m), Ken Dodd’s teeth (£4m), Egon Ronay’s tastebuds ($400,000) Dolly Parton’s breasts (reputedly anywhere from £600,000 to £3.8m), Bruce Springsteen’s voice (£3.5m) and Keith Richard’s fingers ($1.6m).

Alien abduction

Some reports suggest as many as 30,000 policies protecting people against unauthorised space kidnap and probing have been sold, but a more realistic figure might be 4,000.

Typical policies will cover you for kidnapping, organ removal, pregnancy, chip removal and (my favourite) repatriation.

Policies are quite cheap, given the less-than-serious nature of the cover. But if the broker or underwriter is based in the UK they are covered by UK financial regulations – and you can complain about them too if you’re unhappy with a claim.

Tattoos and body piercing

No, not insurance to protect you against getting a rubbish tattoo (that’s in the eye of the beholder). This type of insurance covers tattoo and piercing experts while practising their art. Cover can extend to faulty equipment (yikes), unexpected problems, difficult customers, personal liability cover and requirements that might be needed by any smaller business.

As for victims of awful/stupid tattoos or piercings, there is hope. While researching this article, we found UK-based cover for tattoo removal or piercing reconstruction, though presumably, you have to take this out before taking the plunge*. And if you have an allergic or severe reaction, a private healthcare policy may cover the procedures required to make you like new again.

*Teenagers going to Magaluf on holiday: don’t do it. You know what we mean.

Hole in one insurance

This is a policy designed to cover golfing events where there’s a big cash prize for golfers who hit a hole in one.