Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bigfoot to Ghostbusters, Instructor has Seen it All

Chris Behymer has seen it all. More specifically, he has insured it all. Bigfoot? Covered. Goat grazer? Check. Ghostbusters? No problem. The Rio Salado College instructor and insurance professional deals with many such scenarios at his job for a local specialty insurance company.

“I had a guy in North Carolina who wanted to look for Bigfoot on Federal forest land,” Beyhmer said. “He wanted to put cameras in the trees because he was sure he could capture an image. But the national Forest Service required a proof of insurance, in case a camera fell on someone.”

Thanks to specialty insurance companies, the Bigfoot seeker and others in unusual situations can proceed with their ventures.

According to Behymer, the Phoenix area is home to three of the top 10 specialty insurance markets in the country. A specialty insurance company insures hard-to-place property and casualty risks not normally covered by the major companies.

Examples of events Behymer has insured are circus performances, carnivals, and even a shark watching cruise. “One of the shark boats didn’t make it back,” Behymer recalled. “In that instance, the marina was sued for failure to warn of inclement weather.”

Behymer said people can insure on-going activities and one-time events, where costs typically vary depending on the number of participants and the location.

“You can get coverage for a family reunion for around $300, but there are variables,” Behymer said. “For instance, a city-owned park might require insurance for a party of 50 people or more, and the cost goes up if alcohol is served. However, if it’s a reunion tour with Guns and Roses, the cost would be in the thousands of dollars.”

Perhaps the best-known provider of specialty insurance worldwide is Lloyd’s of London, a company that serves businesses in over 200 countries. Lloyd’s covers a wide array of unusual risks including celebrity body parts, helicopters in war torn Baghdad, and the 2004 Athens Olympics.

One of Behymer’s more unusual clients? The aforementioned goat grazer.

“There was this man in California who owned goats,” Behymer said. “People with weeds in their pastures would call him up and have him drop off his goats for a few days.” In that case, insurance was required in case the goats decided to bite a third party or damage any non-edible property.

Behymer has also insured the cross-country shipping of a valuable Chinese Buddha, and a large arts and crafts fair in Tempe.

At Rio Salado, Behymer teaches “Principles of Property and Liability Insurance,” “Personal Insurance” and “Commercial Insurance.” He encourages his students to take all three courses for a fundamental understanding of the insurance industry.

“In order to understand the specialty side of insurance, you need to first know the basics,” Behymer said. That includes knowing who’s an insured, the different parts of a policy and how insurance companies measure their success. His courses also address the basics of auto and home insurance, small business issues and property liabilities.

For a complete list of all the courses offered through Rio Salado College, visit www.riosalado.edu/schedule.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado, founded in 1978, is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. The college serves more than 60,000 students annually, more than half online, making it the “college within everyone’s reach.” Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs. For more information visit www.riosalado.edu.