In an article in The Space Review a couple weeks ago, I discussed the challenges companies in the personal spaceflight and related industries were experiencing getting insurance, particularly for liability coverage for passengers. An article in last week’s Space News notes that the topic also came up, fittingly, at a space insurance conference in Milan last month. Attendees warned, in the words of the article, that “the creation of a viable, affordable insurance regime for future space tourists remains an unresolved issue that could ultimately scuttle the space-tourism industry before it has a chance to prove itself.” Much of the article discusses concerns about liability insurance in the event of an accident involving passengers, and the likelihood that in the event of such an accident, waivers and other measures to limit exposure would not deter lawsuits.
Some of the more interesting comments came from Brian Binnie of Scaled Composites, who spoke at the conference. He said that the insurance premiums on SpaceShipOne were “exorbitant”, but didn’t discuss what exactly that insurance covered. (Since SS1 never carried passengers, the liability insurance discussed above wouldn’t apply here—perhaps he meant third-party maximum probable loss insurance, required for an FAA license?) Another company, he claimed, “paid more in insurance premiums than it spent on developing its vehicle”, although he didn’t specify which company and what kind of insurance: a tidbit that is both tantalizing and puzzling.