Astronaut self-insurance durable goods monopoly problem

by on August 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm in Economics, History, Music | Permalink

During the 60s and 70s it would appear that private life insurance was not available to astronauts.  Autograph Magazine has a good post about how astronauts of the time used their own autographs as a form of life insurance for their families.

1 Bill Harshaw August 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Oh?. This from Aetna’s site: “1963 — Aetna writes the first individual life insurance policies for the seven Mercury astronauts. ”

My memory is the contract with Life magazine somehow tied into the insurance policies.

2 Orange14 August 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm

maybe being an astronaut was like having a ‘preexisting’ condition with respect to health insurance

3 Hein August 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

4 Joe August 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm


5 ben g August 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

First thought was adverse selection (as with preexisting conditions), but I don’t think that’s right. Better explanation is that back then no one had a clear sense of the mortality risk associated with going into space, and the population was so small it didn’t make sense for the insurance companies to invest the resources needed to come up with useful numbers. Still, hard to believe astronauts couldn’t find policies (albeit very expensive ones) at Lloyd’s of London or something.

6 Adam August 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The government didn’t provide them with anything? It’s hard to find an affordable policy while going off to fight a war, too, but that’s why the SGLI exists.

7 Trantor August 26, 2012 at 7:47 pm

…insurance for military members has long been a problem — due to perceptions as a high-risk group.

In 1922, a group of U.S. Army aviation officers organized to self-insure each other when they were unable to secure normal private auto insurance– due to the perception that they were too comfortable with high speeds and dangerous maneuvers… in both airborne and ground vehicles.

Their tiny mutual-insurance company…. grew into the current United Services Automobile Association (USAA) that is now a major insurance & banking institution – serving millions of current and former U.S. Military members and their families.

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