Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson successfully completed his space bound adventure on 11th of July, 2021, while Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos followed suit a week later.
But what’s truly remarkable is that Branson embarked on his commercial mission to suborbital space without Liability Insurance!
In fact, Virgin Galactic's future commercial space tours will entail passengers signing a contract waiving the company’s liability for any harm or death. This means all space tourists will be responsible for their own safety!
So, what is this liability insurance that comes into play here?
Liability Insurance is taken by commercial vehicle operators to cover against any damages or lawsuits arising out of injury or death to their passengers. This type of insurance is available across domains like motor travel and air travel!
In fact, it is mandatory for commercial airlines to purchase liability insurance for international travel.
However, in Virgin Galactic’s case, the spacecraft took off and landed at the same location in New Mexico- which made it technically a domestic travel journey.
Also, the reason Virgin Galactic was able to get away with this was because of a lack of regulation in the commercial space travel industry. But, insurers say it’s likely that regulators will make liability policies mandatory in the future.
Even though commercial space travel is a new concept, some insurers are interested in developing policies for it. For doing so, they will look at data on past rocket launches.
It will be interesting to see which domain these policies will fall under - aviation insurance or an add on to existing space and satellite insurance.
All we can say is- billionaires like Branson and Bezos may travel to space without liability insurance, but if and when space tourism becomes commonplace, regular folks will need adequate coverage to embark on an intergalactic voyage.