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A look at space insurance (a podcast with David Wade)

Published on 12 July 2021

Welcome to Insurance Covered. In this episode we discuss space insurance, these policies cover and why companies take these out. Peter is joined by David Wade, Underwriter at Atrium Underwriting where he specialises in Space insurance. We discuss, the insurance of space projects, satellites and the future of space exploration.

We start by talking about the history of space exploration, the key projects and achievements and where that has left us in the present day. David explains space exploration as we know it came from advancements in rocket weaponry in the second world war. Following the end of the war the science was used to create ships that could break out of the earths atmosphere with the overriding goal of exploring the solar system. David also mentions satellites, and how they are crucial to life as we know it and made fast paced communication a reality. There have been around 12,000 satellites launched and 4000 of those are currently still active.   

We then discuss how insurance of satellites works. David explains that some of the first satellite policies came through Lloyd's in the mid-1960s. Most of what atrium cover is the more commercial space activity, satellites used for television and different policies are taken out at different phases of a satellites life cycle. "Typically, separate policies for each phase, so, before the satellite is launched there's a pre-launch cover that is available, this is really offered by the cargo markets.  At this, at that stage a satellite is just another piece of equipment being transported from a factory to a place of use. That policy ceases when the launch cover starts, that usually really means the first year of life of the satellite.  So that policy attaches at intentional ignition or lift off, or launch.  So that would cover the satellite whilst it was on its, on its rocket going into space. Once that first month has passed and the satellite has been thoroughly tested and it starts commercial operations that would be a different policy".

Finally, we discuss what the future of space insurance holds. David indicates that with the lieks of Elon Musk and Richard Branson, commercial space travel will eventually be available to the public and with that a whole new type of space insurance policy. 

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Insurance Covered, many thanks to David for joining us. If you did enjoy, please subscribe to be notified when new episodes are released.

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