I came across this article on NPR about what the Apollo astronauts did in lieu of life insurance, and I thought it was kind of an ingenious idea, perhaps not surprising from people clever enough to fly to the moon.
The Apollo astronauts needed life insurance. Understandably, this was a problem: being the first humans to walk on the moon carried with it a certain amount of risk.
Since they couldn’t get conventional life insurance, the astronauts, knowing their signatures would be valuable no matter what the outcome of their mission, signed hundreds of “covers,” or envelopes which they later had a friend bring to a post office to be postmarked on important dates during the mission. Had things gone wrong, the families of the astronauts could have made thousands of dollars by selling these covers, which even now can be sold for $30,000.
It was a clever solution to a complex problem. I can’t help but wonder, though, why at least one insurance company didn’t offer to help out — I feel like the financial risk would have been balanced out by the publicity of being the company who believed in America’s heroes-of-the-day strongly enough to offer them life insurance. Of course, there may be fiscal or ethical issues I’m overlooking; it probably wouldn’t be the first time.