The world’s leading millionaires, including Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, are set to take part in their first commercial space trip in July. However, covering this with insurance has turned out to be a completely overwhelming task for the industry. This is because they are not prepared to accurately calculate the risk of death or injury due to an accident or the like.
A spokeswoman for the American Insurance Information Association said that space travel carries significant risks, but it has not yet reached the stage where life insurers specifically ask questions because for everyone, traveling to space is very rare.
There is an insurance market of nearly $ 500 million for satellites, rockets, and unmanned space flight. That said, spaceship operators like Blue Origin, a private space developer launched by Bezos, can insure passengers for injuries and deaths while traveling, or the travelers themselves can get the relevant life insurance. Brokers and insurance companies explain that there are no laws or regulations that require them to join.
The senior vice president of aviation and space insurance at Marsh, Neil Stevens, the world’s largest insurance broker, said he was unaware that he was insured for damages to space travel passengers. Blue Origin plans to launch a 6-seater ballistic flight rocket, “New Shepard,” on July 20th. If all goes well, one can fly 100 kilometers from the ground for a few minutes and experience weightlessness.
Mr. Branson’s Virgin Galactic is the only operator that has regularly carried out so-called “sub-orbital” manned flights since the 1960s. All of them were test flights, and in 2014, some people died due to failure. According to Ceradata Space Track, Blue Origin has made 15 unmanned sub-orbital flights so far, with no failures.
NASA astronauts will also be covered by the government’s life insurance program, a NASA spokeswoman said. Charles Wetton, space insurance underwriting manager at insurance company Global Aerospace, said that astronauts who carry out government-funded plans are carefully selected based on their knowledge, abilities, and aptitude. He pointed out that he would be trained many years before the launch.
But according to Wetton, commercial space travel is a very different thing for insurers to consider, whether it’s a sub-orbital flight in just a few days of training or a few months to the International Space Station (ISS). It shows that there are two risk factors. He is asking the industry for advice on what kind of insurance NASA should offer over plans to send astronauts to the ISS with private funding. NASA envisions that private astronauts will be required to take out insurance. Insurance broker Tim Rush said space travel is still in its infancy, with civilian astronauts having $ 2-5 million in life insurance and covering passengers with insurance.
Still, Global Aerospace Wetton says he has begun receiving insurance inquiries from several sub-orbital flight companies. According to Asure Space Parker, aviation and space flight insurance will be very similar in the next decade. Eventually, some parliament will make the general public travel on spacecraft.