I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Insurance!
MAX DURSTON waxes lyrical about strange celebrity insurance policies, from Ugly Betty’s teeth to J-Lo’s bum.
Spanish Formula One driver Fernando Alonso has become the latest in a string of famous faces to have a body part insured for an enormous sum of money: Europe’s largest bank Santander will stump up 9 million pounds if Alonso loses his thumbs.
Whilst this may seem preposterous, this is actually one of the sanest examples of celebrity insurance policies, considering the fact that without those all-important opposable digits, Alonso’s car would veer off the circuit in a blaze of flames and glory at his next Grand Prix. His thumbs are indispensable when it comes to carrying out his job: driving a car really, really fast. And 9 million pounds is not an unreasonable amount for Alonso to expect in the unlikely event that he loses his thumbs in a turkey carving accident, or some other no doubt hilarious mishap.
However, the cynic in me is still unable to see this than anything more than a publicity stunt: Santander is a corporate sponsor of Ferrari, the Formula One racing team for which Fernando Alonso drives. By placing such a high price-tag on Alonso’s appendages, Santander garners lots of free publicity, providing they don’t actually have to pay out on the policy. A frivolous insurance policy in times of recession suggests to the public that the bank has got cash to splash, hopefully giving them confidence that the bankers actually know what they’re doing.
Looking back at some other famous cases, the same dark ulterior motive is identifiable. America Ferrera, star of the recently cancelled television show Ugly Betty, had her teeth insured for a massive 10 million dollars. The people behind the policy? Toothpaste company Aquafresh. Their newest spokesperson? None other than America Ferrera herself. Lots of publicity for the brand and the star means a perfect deal for both.
However, some celebrities just aren’t content with a paltry 10 million dollar price tag on their body part; after winning the Gillette ‘Legs of a Goddess Award’ in 2006, Mariah Carey’s pins were priced at a whopping one billion dollars. No, you haven’t gone dyslexic: that really does say one BILLION dollars. Whilst Carey’s spokesman claimed that this ‘sum reflects her popularity’, I would be more inclined to think that the sum reflects her over-inflated ego, as does Jennifer Lopez’ rumoured 18 million pound policy on her posterior.
No-one’s legs are worth one billion dollars. Least of all Mariah Carey’s. As a singer, her most valuable asset must be her voice, envied as it is by the thousands of wannabes who murder the Mariah classic ‘Without You’ in the X Factor auditions each year. If Mariah were ever to tragically lose her legs, this would not put an end to her career; sure, Gillette would probably lose interest in her, but her singing career wouldn’t suffer, certainly not to the extent that she would require a billion dollars in compensation. If anything, the media attention garnered by losing her limbs would cause her popularity, and subsequently her record sales, to sky-rocket: a sob story means big bucks. Just ask Simon Cowell!
The best way for Mariah to truly capitalise on all her opportunities is obvious. Rub her legs on a leper, have the lower limbs amputated and then cash in: one billion dollars from the insurance company on top of the hundreds of millions she could earn telling her heart-breaking story in her autobiography ‘I Can’t Live, If Living Is Without Legs: The Mariah Carey Story’.
All joking aside, when you consider the complete disregard for any true sense of the value of money that these celebrity insurance policies show, it would be poetic justice if something were to befall Mariah’s ‘legs of a Goddess.’ Perhaps if an insurance company actually had to pay out on one of these policies, they would be a lot more reluctant to issue them for publicity in the future, leaving the funds free for ordinary people who might actually need the money if they were left unable to do their jobs, instead of celebs with enough savings to last them a lifetime.