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Filing UFO claims not so alien to some

Posted On: May. 16, 2004 12:00 AM CST

It may be time to dust off those old alien abduction policies and make sure the premium is current.

The Internet was abuzz last week with fuzzy infrared images of unidentified flying objects over Mexico that were videotaped by Mexican Air Force pilots searching for drug traffickers.

The Mexican Air Force naturally delivered this sensitive evidence of extraterrestrial activity to a noted UFO expert. The expert, who has devoted his life to studying UFOs, which is akin to you or I saying we have decided to take up a career studying unicorns, confidently declared: "Hundreds of videos (of UFOs) exist, but none had the backing of the armed forces of any country...the armed forces don't perpetuate frauds."

But skeptical scientists soon weighed in with opinions that the lights, which were observed at 11,000 feet moving erratically and surrounding the air force jets, were probably atmospheric anomalies or balls of gas. I'm not sure what comforts me more: the thought that our skies are occupied by little green persons in spaceships, or that there are animated and unexplained balls of flaming gas whizzing around our skies interfering with air traffic.

I do find it odd that the same scientific community that so often rushes to downplay potential evidence of extraterrestrial activity in our skies is willing to spend zillions of dollars to study dirt clods on Mars in the hope of finding signs of life. The Mars rovers have probably shot hours of footage of unexplained bright lights whizzing through the red planet's skies, but some hotshot astrophysicist taped over them with the comment, "Gas balls. Keep looking."

Back to those UFO policies.

The Saint Lawrence Agency of Altamonte Springs, Fla., sells a lifetime policy on UFO Insurance Co. paper covering alien abductions for $19.95. UFO Insurance's motto is "Let's not let the little bug-eyed bullies get the best of us."

Not only is the coverage period generous for the price, but their materials state that "you cannot be turned down, regardless of age or frequent flyer status." The insurer also offers a $10 million group policy. Serious inquiries only.

Syndicates at Lloyd's of London also offered alien abduction insurance a few years ago, but the coverage received some unwanted publicity in 1997 when the Heaven's Gate cult paid $1,000 to provide $1 million of coverage to each of its 39 members. The group was hedging its bets against their belief that the Hale Bopp comet contained a mothership coming to take them away. Yet when the comet passed without a layover, the earthbound group committed mass suicide rather than file claims. The broker offering the policies, Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson, promptly withdrew from the UFO coverage market.

This year, the Progressive Insurance Co. even got in on the act, offering UFO damage insurance for spacecraft on April 1, a well-known date for heavy UFO and other paranormal activity.

As with any insurance, buyers should only purchase UFO coverage from insurers with the highest ratings and financial strength, because there's no telling when you'll be back to file a claim. This has something to do with the speed of light and the vastness of the universe.

There's also some question as to whether reinsurers, notorious for underreserving long-tail exposures, are adequately accounting for UFO risks. With a little investment, though, the modeling companies ought to be able to partner with the SETI Institute to develop computer scenarios to assist in this effort.

For those whose anxiety over alien abduction risk is not assuaged by insurance, relax. Rest assured that if we are invaded by aliens from the Crab Nebulae, thousands of troops will be mobilized in your defense. Yes, the legal community stands by to save the planet from the panoply of torts that such an invasion would produce.

I know some of you suspect attorneys are alien pod people in disguise, but if it's true, there's nothing we can do about it now. In the wake of the sightings over Mexico, no doubt attorneys are organizing a seminar at a motel in Groom Lake, Nev., on preserving your universal right to punitive damages. Topics might include how to pursue claims for unauthorized medical exams, human identity theft, alien mold spore infestations, genetically modified crop circles and cattle rustling.

If the skeptics are right, and our skies are crowded with runaway weather balloons, gas balls and well-thrown Frisbees, don't worry, because our planetary legal forces can still help. They can file a claim for extraterrestrial discrimination.

Editor Paul Winston can be reached on Earth at