Perspective│A Review of Captain James T. Kirk’s Insurance Options

By: | May 14, 2019

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

For 50 years, I have been a Star Trek man. I own a phaser (a ray gun), although sadly it’s only a facsimile. I have a machine that makes whooshing noises when you open the kitchen door, in the style of the doors on the starship USS Enterprise.

In case you’ve been in a coma since 1966, the Enterprise toured the universe on TV under Captain James T. Kirk’s command on a five-year mission of interplanetary discovery.

I mention all this in the interests of full disclosure. You now know I’m a nutcase. Good. Let’s move on.

Almost every week, one or more starships owned by Starfleet, the humanitarian and peacekeeping armada operated by the United Federation of Planets, are damaged or destroyed. Watching the latest, umpteenth series of Star Trek, my mind turns from time to time to insurance. The fleet wouldn’t dare fly without insurance, would it?

Money is apparently not used in the 23rd century, but one assumes insurance must still be a force 400 years from now. It’s survived the last 400 years, so why not the next 400? Given that a smashed-up spaceship can be repaired, billions of miles in space, in time for next week’s episode, the question is: During the Enterprise’s five event-filled years in space, how were insured losses assessed?

Can’t answer that, can you? And you call yourselves insurance experts.

Several possibilities exist: Perhaps in the next 400 years, the major insurers and reinsurers will earn so much money they become indistinguishable from the global government that will, apparently, run the galaxy. It might call itself the All State. Maybe starship captains just keep their repair receipts and file them at the end of each mission.

During the Enterprise’s five event-filled years in space, how were insured losses assessed? Can’t answer that, can you? And you call yourselves insurance experts.

Much the likeliest possibility is that each ship carries a complement of loss adjusters. The moment aliens with funny foreheads attack, the adjusters move into high gear. Makes sense.

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Maybe the alien Klingons had insurance to settle up for all the damage they did before their acceptance (in later series) into the Federation. They couldn’t have paid in cash, of course, which raises a raft of other questions.

If there is no money, how would a future intergalactic insurer, let’s call it Allied Worlds, calculate its standing? How would it pay claims? These questions cannot be answered, yet Star Trek has millions of fans who are apparently prepared to overlook these mission-critical shortcomings.

What would be the deductible on a starship that might be atomized by space-conquering baddies? Apparently, no one cared. Maybe Jim Kirk only got to be a captain because it didn’t matter if his ship was blown up once a week, since they had insurance.

Fiction requires suspension of disbelief. But it would not be logical to ignore the insurance implications of galactic exploration. Perhaps the next series (and you may be certain there will be one) should be Star Trek: Insurance Office Nine, which would answer these vexing questions.

I’d watch it. &

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