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by Dale Connelly, 10/22/99

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DC: Recent natural disasters have taxed the reserves of insurance companies worldwide. Floods, earthquakes and such call on tremendous resources for relief and repair, and many in the insurance business are looking desperately for new product areas that will not be as exposed to ... widespread catastrophe.
On the line with us is Irene Backus, Vice President for New Policy Development for Mutual Paranoia. Good day to you.

Irene: (phone) Actually, the tables show that for 67% of the populace, it IS a good day. And did you know ... your likelihood of having a "good day" increases with a regular exercise program and a healthy diet.

DC: Interesting.

Irene: As you age and become infirm, your "good day" quotient decreases by a factor of 2% each year, or 20% with each major surgery.

DC: Fascinating.

Irene: We've been tracking this data for years.

DC: Yes, but I called you to talk about NEW product lines.

Irene: Yes, and we have some.

DC: That's what I'm most interested in.

Irene: Our humiliation insurance?

DC: No, not that.

Irene: Voter's coverage, to protect you from being sued for casting a dumb vote in a major election?

DC: No, although I could probably use it.

Irene: Is it the Alien Abduction Policy?

DC: Yes, that's it!

Irene: Have you been abducted?

DC: No.

Irene: Count your blessings.

DC: Why have you decided to insure against this?

Irene: Because people want to buy that kind of insurance. We want to sell insurance. It seems like a good fit.

DC: But for a big company with your reputation to "go public" with a belief in alien abductions ...

Irene: We never said we "believed" in them.
A lot of people think alien abductions never happen.

DC: But if you're writing policies ...

Irene: We would like to write most of our policies for things that never happen.
We haven't had that kind of luck with flood and earthquake insurance.

DC: So you think you'll never have to pay on an alien abduction coverage?

Irene: I didn't say that. We will examine every claim carefully.

DC: What would you need to see?

Irene: Polaroids would be good. The inside of the ship. A couple of aliens standing with the abductee would be nice, so we can see how big they are. Of course you'd have to ask one of the aliens to take the picture for you.
If they have fingers.

DC: So that's it? Pictures?

Irene: Or if they implanted some device in your body that was made of materials that could only come from another planet. Kryptonite, for example.

DC: It sounds like it might be tough to get you to pay on a claim. Why should people even go to the trouble?

Irene: The costs. Being abducted by aliens is quite expensive. There is the removal of implants. It might be just a monitor, but what if it's a homing device or some sort of remote destruct button or something? Then you've got to get the bomb squad AND N.A.S.A. to come out. That's pricey.

DC: Still, these seem like rather exotic costs.

Irene: There are mundane costs too. Like car damage, especially the suspension.

DC: How would that ...?

Irene: A tractor beam. To freeze your car in place if you're driving down a rural road. Our policy covers tire damage too!

DC: I never would have thought that.

Irene: AND you might lose your job over it.

DC: Because you're seen as a nutcase?

Irene: No! You can't get fired for being a nutcase! This is America!
I work with nutcases every day, don't you?

DC: Well ...

Irene: But once you've been in an alien abduction, you become a security risk. What if they put a transmitter in your brain? Suddenly, company secrets are all over the galaxy! An employer can't afford that. They might even sue!

DC: And a Mutual Paranoia alien abduction policy covers all that?

Irene: Absolutely. Attorney's fees, the works. The loss of income for the family while you're gone, Babysitters would have to be hired, the lawn would probably get scorched by thrusters if they dropped you off at the house. That's a costly repair.

DC: Wow, there's a lot to consider.

Irene: Do you have a pet?

DC: I do. A dog.

Irene: What if the dog saw you get picked up by a flying saucer? There's emotional trauma there ... separation anxiety. Have you ever had to pay a doggie psychiatrist? Getting a dog to face it's fear ... takes many months of therapy.

DC: I'm sure I'd be scared.

Irene: Of course you would. You'd probably need new pants.
Our alien abduction policy covers pants replacement and dry cleaning.

DC: Are you selling many of these policies?

Irene: Not many right now. It's the same old story. People think it's never gonna happen to them.

DC: But your message is ... it will, someday?

Irene: No. Maybe it won't. Probably won't. But what if it does?

DC: What if the aliens launch their scheme of global domination from MY BACKYARD? There would probably be lawsuits stemming from that, because I let it happen!

Irene: Can you afford to take that risk? We can write a policy that will cover you against that, if it's one of your concerns!

DC: Irene Backus, Vice President for new policy development at Mutual Paranoia, a specialty insurance company, now offering a policy against alien abduction.

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