For budding astronauts who pay $95,000 for a journey into space, Aon Risk Solutions is there to make sure you don't miss your blastoff.
The global risk management business of Aon PLC recently formed a partnership with Space Expedition Corp., the Netherlands-based space tourism company, to offer a space-age version of trip-cancellation insurance.
"It took a while to come up with the product," said Arno Wijnands, managing director of Aon Risk Solutions in the Netherlands. "We were asked by SXC to provide them with a sort of warranty ... to place risk outside of their company."
He said SXC has sold about 200 space flight tickets thus far.
"We actually think that space travel will take off," he said. "We are entering a new era with them. ... We believe that there will be a big future for this product and for their dream of space travel."
Wijnands said the solution is not a warranty, but is an event-cancellation policy that will pay if the space tourists are unable for some reason "outside of the will of the client" to make it to Curacao in the Caribbean for the daily commercial space flights that are scheduled to begin in mid-2014.
Among the possible reasons that would qualify under the policy, he said, would be airline cancellations that make it impossible for an astronaut to take the space flight.
"SXC is buying the insurance for its clients," he said, noting that it is part of the $95,000 ticket to ride into space.
The insurer, he said "will reimburse SXC and they will reimburse the client by giving them another flight or arranging something else," Wijnands said.
SXC, which requires astronauts to complete a mandatory training program and pass medical testing, will be using a XCOR-1 spacecraft when taking astronauts into space and a Lynx suborbital jet for training purposes. The XCOR-1 and Lynx are both designed and built by XCOR Aerospace.
The insurance coverage may be expanded to other markets, Wijnands said, where insureds may be planning something they "desperately want to do," such as a honeymoon.
"It's not insurance if something goes wrong during the flight," he said. "There is a little personal accident coverage within the policy ... if something goes wrong, but we don't hope that it goes wrong."
--By Anne Freedman
February 19, 2013
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