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While private pilots and skydivers have to take out extra life insurance to cover the added risk of their pursuits, space tourists do not need special policies on their high flying rides. That loophole is likely to disappear, slowly, after last week's fatal crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane during a test flight.
The loophole exists because U.S. life insurance policies don't ask about space tourism or exclude it from coverage, meaning insurers probably would have to pay if the holder died on a space trip, insurance industry veterans said. Insurance companies are likely to start adding questions about space travel and may even explicitly exclude spaceflight coverage, the industry observers said. The companies themselves are taking a cautious approach. "If we had an applicant with such plans, we would postpone any underwriting decision until they returned," Prudential spokeswoman Sheil Bridgeforth said. Some companies are already thinking ahead: Pembroke Managing Agency, for example, offers a policy that pays up to $5 million per space passenger or up to $20 million per trip.