May the 4th be with you

The largest insurance claim to arise from the Star Wars films occurred when Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, passed away. Disney had placed a policy on her before she signed a three-picture deal, taking out $41,000,000 of contract protection cover in case she was unable to fulfil her obligations. The policy was underwritten by New Jersey based Lloyd’s coverholder, Exceptional Risk Advisors.

This type of insurance was taken out for all of the films and also covered accidents and injuries to the cast and crew. It proved useful when a claim was made during Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Harrison Ford’s ankle was fractured after it was crushed by the door of the Millennium Falcon. It meant that production had to be suspended for two weeks while he recovered. All associated costs were paid by the film’s insurers.

Another of the cast to cause a claim was Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill. Whilst making The Empire Strikes Back, Luke runs and shoots a grappling hook up towards an Imperial Walker before jumping out of the way. It was during the last take that he fell awkwardly and fractured a thumb. The injury meant that Luke and Darth Vader’s lightsaber duel had to be rescheduled. Again, insurance paid for these delays. Because of his injury, Lloyd’s underwriters told him that he could not perform a stunt that he had been training for. Instead, a stunt-double performed the leap out of a circular window on Cloud City during the fight between Skywalker and Vader. Speaking about his stunt-double, Mr. Hamill said “He taught me how to do it with help from a springboard. The insurance guys were all ‘NOOOOO!”

C3P0 and R2D2 were also insured during filming, against the risks of loss or damage. In the early 1980’s, C3P0 was invited to give out an award at the BAFTA’s ceremony. The stage was seated at the bottom of a sweeping staircase and so, Lloyd’s were contacted in case he fell. As part of the risk assessment, it was decided that instead of clumsily walking down the steps, he would rise from a gap in the stage, elevated by a forklift. Actor Anthony Daniels was put out when he learnt that while he was personally insured for £25,000, the C3P0 costume was covered for triple that amount.

The Star Wars galaxy does in fact, have its own network of insurers. These were written into the plot lines of some of the books. They include the Maltsett Insurance Company, an insurer during the Galactic Civil War. Armanda Durkin and her husband owned a building with a Maltsett insurance policy, but after a fire burned the building down, Maltsett used an obscure legal reference to avoid paying. As a result, Armanda could not afford the care that might have saved her injured husband’s life. She later became CEO of the Notsub Shipping Company and led a double life as a pirate preying on Maltsett-insured vessels.


Post courtesy of Paul Miller, Insurance MuseumTrustee

May the 4th be with you

May 4th 2023

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