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Friday, July 31, 1998 Published at 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK


How the stars cover their assets

Naomi Campbell is among supermodels insured for millions

England striker Michael Owen is the latest in a long line of stars who have felt in necessary to insure the assets that made them famous.

The £60m valuation Liverpool have put on Owen is the highest known for a footballer and reflects the 18-year-old's soaring worth since his impressive displays in France.

But there are doubts any insurance company will take the risk.

Hollywood stars, pop stars and entire sports teams are now insured for millions of pounds.

[ image: Alan Shearer was too expensive to fly with his team]
Alan Shearer was too expensive to fly with his team
The trend was begun by Hollywood star Betty Grable who insured her famous legs for $1m in the 1940s.

Gene Kelly, Mae West, Frank Sinatra and Sir Laurence Olivier were among the scores of legendary film stars who followed suit and have been insured by Lloyds of London.

Also on the books of the world famous underwriters have been The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones and Duran Duran.

Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley has had his legs insured for £25m, Ken Dodd's trademark teeth are insured for £4m while supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Christie Turlington have cover totalling millions.

[ image: Lloyds has hundreds of stars on its books]
Lloyds has hundreds of stars on its books
Similarly, Egon Ronay's tastebuds are insured as are topless model Suzanne Mizzi's breasts.

Keith Richard's hand is insured for £1m, cricketer Merv Hughes has taken out a £200,000 policy on his moustache and boxer Nigel Benn's fists are insured for £10m.

England captain Alan Shearer's £15m transfer fee meant in 1996 he had to fly on a separate plane from the rest of the Newcastle United team as the travel insurance was too high.

In December last year catwalk models refused to don the latest six inch heels at the Clothes Show Live exhibition without being insured.

They only paraded along the catwalk after their legs had been insured for £50,000.

Suzanne Moore, of the Association of British Insurers, says: "The figure being quoted in connection with Michael Owen refers to his transfer value.

"Players stand to make a lot of money over a fairly short career so if they're injured they will also lose money.

[ image: Michael Flatley's legs are insured for £25m]
Michael Flatley's legs are insured for £25m
"But it's different with models and pop stars as a lot of it has to do with publicity.

"Michael Flatley has his legs insured for £25m and its great publicity or recently Jamie Lee Curtis had her legs insured as she was advertising stockings."

Insurers do place conditions on policy-holders such as encouraging sensible footwear for someone who values their feet or legs.

Graham Penman of Windsor Insurance Brokers who specialise in sports insurance says the practise has become increasingly common in the last 20 years.

[ image: Mir cosmonauts were covered]
Mir cosmonauts were covered
He said: "In the case of Michael Owen, for example, we are talking about insuring him against the value of his transfer fee.

"And when you talk about insuring someone's legs, feet or hands or other assets, you are not in fact actually insuring a particular part of somebody's body.

"Take the concert pianist or surgeon, they may want to insure their hands but what they are insuring is their whole body against permanent disability.

"A road accident may result in a head injury which may prevent that person ever using their hands in the same way again, so you insure the ability to pursue that usual ability."

Among the assets Lloyds of London have insured are:

  • Thrust SSC which broke the land speed record of 763mph in October 1997, and driver, Andy Green.

  • Individuals against death or injury caused by a piece of disintegrating satellite falling from the sky.

  • The Russian cosmonauts who travelled to the Mir space station on the American space shuttle.

  • Employers can buy insurance against two or more of their staff winning the UK national lottery and not returning to work.

  • Cutty Sark Whisky are insured against anyone capturing the Loch Ness monster alive after offering a £1m prize.

  • The same company is also took out a policy after offering a £1m prize to anyone producing an authentic extra-terrestrial device.

  • Olympic Games, British and Commonwealth Games, World Athletics Championships and World and European Soccer Championships.

  • The world's largest cigar, twelve and a half feet long and weighing 110kg.

  • A 20-year-old sailing from Dover to Cap Gris Nez, France in a sea going bath tub covered the vessel for £100,000 on condition he kept the plug in.

Stranger policies have included virgins taking out policies against having a baby by immaculate conception in anticipation of the second coming in 2000.

But one performer who was unable to get full cover for his talents was Macclesfield folk hero Mr Methane.

Insurance companies refused to insure his performing bottom, whose talents included renditions of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' and 'How Much is That Doggy in the Window?'.

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