Celebrity body part insurance policies, from head to toe
MAY 11, 2017
I originally wrote this article in May 2017 for the MyPath initiative, the goal of which was to get high school and college students more interested in the insurance and risk management field.
A lot of the blogs companies start in order to attract audiences publish content like this, but it’s often very surface level, favoring quantity over quality. I simply can’t operate that way – when I write something, I seriously want it to be one of the best pieces ever written on that topic.
For this seemingly simple piece, I thoroughly researched each of these claims, often going back into decades-old news clips to get at the truth. Why? Because that’s always a better idea in the long run. I know that if someone finds and appreciates it, they’re more likely to share and link to it. If someone finds it and hates it, they’re more likely to never return to that site again.
Insurance is simple: it protects people from financial loss. So if you total your car, get hurt or lose your phone, insurance will soften the monetary blow.
The same principle applies to people whose bodies are a key source of their income—celebrities, athletes and all kinds of performers. If hurting a leg keeps them from playing football or walking a runway, which in turn hurts their wallet, an insurance policy would help them get back some of that lost money.
That said, insurance is mainly intended for when the financial loss would be catastrophic. When normal people destroy their car and can’t pay for a replacement to get to work, they face a serious crisis if they don’t have insurance to back them up. But why would multimillionaires get an insurance policy if they can afford the loss?
In a word, publicity. While some people do indeed protect their livelihood through insurance, others get policies purely to generate headlines. It’s one thing for a company to say that its spokesperson has great legs—it’s another to say that those legs are worth millions.
Further still, it’s unclear how many celebrity body-part insurance policies are even legitimate. Many originate from unnamed sources in tabloid magazines and get repeated over and over again in internet slideshows without any further investigation, even though the stars deny them. So it’s best to approach the situation with a healthy dose of skepticism.
With that in mind, here are some examples of body parts that celebrities have insured, from head to toe.
In 2010, Head & Shoulders took out a $1 million insurance policy on the hair of its spokesman, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu, who retired in 2015, is famous for his long Samoan locks, which he says he has not cut since 2005.
“In developing this unique policy, we recognize that Troy Polamalu’s famed head of hair is truly legendary, and we are proud to partner with Head & Shoulders to protect it,” said Jonathan Thomas of Watkins Syndicate at Lloyd’s of London, the insurance agency that provided the coverage.
This is a great example of insurance as a publicity stunt. The move got Head & Shoulders some extra press attention, even though the details of how the policy would actually work are murky.
What would have to happen for the insurance to kick in? What are the premiums? What sort of risk are they even trying to manage? Is the purpose for the brand to recoup losses on the money it paid to Polamalu should he lose his hair?
This general lack of information tends to belie the seriousness of these policies and indicate that they’re more for media attention than actual risk management.
You might be surprised by how valuable people’s mouths are.
First, you’ve got multimillion dollar smiles. Aquafresh insured spokeswoman America Ferrera’s teeth for $10 million to cover losses should anything happen to her pearly whites. Similarly, Julia Roberts reportedly insured her teeth for $30 million.
Numerous singers have also insured their vocal cords. For example, Bruce Springsteen insured his pipes for $6 million.
You’ve even got tongues! You may have heard rumors that Miley Cyrus insured her tongue. We haven’t been able to find any legitimate confirmation of this one, but if you have, please let us know in the comments.
More legitimately, but maybe a little less sensational, a chocolate expert for Cadbury insured her taste buds for £1 million in 2016 with a policy barring her from sword swallowing, eating poisonous fish and chewing on chili peppers.
This might seem like it would be a category women have all to their own, but it’s been rumored for years that crooner Tom Jones, of “It’s Not Unusual” fame, reportedly insured his chest hair for $7 million. When asked about it, though, Jones has denied it.
“I’d shave my own bloody chest hair off for seven million dollars,” Jones has said.
This is a category dominated not by hand models but by professional musicians.
The most famous musicians to do so are probably guitarists Jeff Beck and Keith Richards. “These are my business,” Richards once said while holding up his hands.
But it’s not just hard rockers who see the sense in protecting their digits. Oliver Lewis, known as the world’s fastest violinist, insured his hands for $1 million at the cost of $3,500 per month.
You’ve probably heard that Jennifer Lopez insured her behind for as much as $1 billion. Unfortunately, that’s probably not true.
We did some digging, and the rumor apparently originated in a 1999 article by The Sun, a publication so unreliable that it’s frowned upon as a source on Wikipedia. Nevertheless, it was promptly picked up by other publications, such as the New York Post, and has persisted in the press ever since.
Meanwhile, Lopez has denied it for years, even as recently as last year on an episode of “Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden.
More recently, Kim Kardashian was rumored to have insured her butt for $21 million, although publications have also been light on sources. (Noticing a trend yet?)
OK, it seems that many celebrities would have a legitimate reason to protect these assets. More celebrities’ legs are insured than any other body part.
Take Christiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. These top soccer pros’ legs are insured in the event that they sustain a career-altering injury. Real Madrid’s policy on Ronaldo totals €103 million, and Beckham covers his own legs under a massive $195 million policy.
You’ve also got fashion models, whose long, slender legs generate an enormous amount of income. Take Heidi Klum.
“I didn’t personally have them insured, but a client of mine did,” Klum has said about a £1.1 million policy on her legs. “Basically, I was in London, and I had to go to this place where they check out your legs. They would look at them and I had one scar here from when I fell on a glass, so this [left leg] isn’t as pricey as this [right] one.”
You’ve even got famous dancers, like Michael Flatley of “Riverdance” fame, who once insured his legs for £40 million.
“Not anymore,” Flatley said in a 2015 interview. “It’s a very different sum, but it’s very hard to get anyone to insure these legs.”
And finally, you’ve got singers. When Mariah Carey became a spokeswoman for Gillette in 2006, The Mirror (a tabloid) ran a four-paragraph report quoting “a source close to the 36-year-old” saying that she insured her legs for $1 billion, although we couldn’t find any independent confirmation of that figure. Carey again appeared in insurance-related headlines last year when TMZ, citing more unnamed sources, claimed to have found out that she insured her legs and vocal cords for $70 million.
Similarly, Taylor Swift allegedly insured her long legs for $40 million in 2015. Denials of this rumor came pretty, er, swiftly, with Swift herself making light of it in an Instagram post.
“GREAT WORK MEREDITH I WAS JUST TRYING TO LOVE YOU AND NOW YOU OWE ME 40 MILLION DOLLARS,” she captioned a photo of red scratches on her leg from her cat.
For what it’s worth, it seems that Tina Turner actually did insure her legs through Lloyd’s of London, though we can say for sure that she did not burn them down for the insurance money, as reported by The Onion.