Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are flying to space this month without purchasing any liability insurance, brokers told The New York Times’ DealBook newsletter on Friday.
Virgin Galactic founder Branson announced last week that he plans to fly to the edge of space on Sunday. That’s nine days before Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos also plans to blast off on his company’s New Shepard rocket.
Insurance brokers told DealBook that Virgin Galactic and Branson haven’t seen any evidence to suggest they’ve bought coverage for the British billionaire in case he gets injured, or worse, dies on the journey.
They said it was likely that the company’s VVS Unity spacecraft was insured.
There’s also no sign that Blue Origin and Bezos have bought insurance to protect the Amazon founder and billionaire, the brokers told DealBook.
Branson, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin declined or didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Times.
Virgin Galactic’s flight is considered domestic travel because VVS Unity launches and lands in the same place at Spaceport America in New Mexico without crossing into space, DealBook reported.
VVS Unity will travel to the edge of space – 55 miles above sea level – while Blue Origin’s rocket will fly 62 miles above sea level, passing the Kármán Line, and then fall back down to Earth.
Virgin Galactic has previously said that all passengers will have to sign a contract agreeing that they’re fully liable for their own safety, DealBook said. But it’s almost impossible for companies to put all liability onto the customer under American law, it added.
Insurance providers told DealBook that regulators will soon require liability insurance policies for trips into space. There’s enough data on rocket launches for brokers to put prices on these types of policies, they said.
“The big question for the insurance industry is whether this is more like aviation insurance or more like current space policies,” Neil Stevens, senior vice president of space products at the insurance broker Marsh, told DealBook. “There hasn’t been a situation where insurance markets haven’t stepped up.”
Article written by: Kate Duffy
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