The sky really is falling: Insurance for satellite debris

By Posted : 09/19/2011

Insurance satellite debrisIt's a bird, it's a plane, it's – a super-chunk of space satellite?

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A bus-sized defunct climate satellite is expected to make a fiery freefall from space down to Earth on Sept. 23, give or take a day, according to NASA. The space agency is monitoring the course of the death plunge.

The 6-ton satellite, which has been airborne for 20 years, is likely to burst into 26 pieces, the biggest of which could be about 350 pounds when it hits the Earth.  The chance you'll get dinged by the space debris? Just 1 in 3,200, based on NASA calculations.

Still, if you are unfortunate enough to be in the satellite's path, will your insurance cover the damages? If you have home insurance, the answer is likely to be "yes."

"'Falling objects' is a covered peril in most home insurance policies," says Robert Passmore, senior director of personal lines at Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

On the other hand, your car may or may not be covered. It all depends on whether or not you carry comprehensive coverage, Passmore says. Many people drop this auto insurance coverage once their car reaches its last few years of life.

Health insurance will cover any care if you are injured by space debris. And if you get bonked on the head by the satellite and wake up at the Pearly Gates? No need to worry, so long as your life insurance premiums are paid up.

Thank your lucky stars, the chance of having your property or person be struck by space junk is remote. According to Space.com, "to date there have been no confirmed reports of an injury or significant property damage resulting from re-entering space objects."

Nonetheless, insurance is for life's unexpected disasters, and we’ll be keeping our eyes on the sky.

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