Saturday, April 22, 2006


Selling life insurance:
Twice in the past year, Muhammad Said has survived assassination attempts that left his car riddled with bullets. He works part-time as a bodyguard for his father, a Baghdad city councilman, and also helps a friend who has contracts with the American military. Both are very dangerous jobs.

So last month, Said, a slim, baby-faced 23-year-old, did what a small but growing number of Iraqis are doing: He walked into the offices of the Iraq Insurance Co. and bought a terrorism insurance policy. It looked like an ordinary life insurance policy, but with a one-page rider adding coverage for “the following dangers: 1) explosions caused by weapons of war and car bombs; 2) assassinations; 3) terrorist attacks.”

It cost him 125,000 dinars, about $90. Said paid more than most people because of his risky occupation. The payout, if he dies, is 5 million dinars, around $3,500, or about what an Iraqi policeman earns in a year.

That guarantee appears to be the first off-the-shelf terrorism policy in the world, insurance experts say. In most countries, of course, there is no need for it: Death by terrorism is rare enough that it is usually covered by ordinary accident insurance. In Iraq it is not, partly because the state used to compensate the families of war victims directly. So the Iraq Insurance Co. began stepping into the gap about a year ago.
Entreprenuers are everywhere.


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