Homeowners insurance blog

What Darth Vader Could Teach Us About Insurance

Take away the menacing mask, mastery of the Force, and penchant for evil, and Darth Vader is pretty much like any other home owner. The primary villain in the Star Wars space epic spent his share of time in both renditions of the Death Star – the Galactic Empire’s superweapon/home base.

We’ll assume Darth Vader lived there, at least part time, in the moon-sized structures of destruction. For argument’s sake, the former Anakin Skywalker’s name is on all insurance policies for the Death Stars. That’s not even to mention the health insurance cost implications of Darth Vader’s complex life-support system that was lost when the Death Stars were destroyed.

Our topic: What lessons did Darth Vader learn as commander of two ill-fated renditions of the Death Star? And how can they help the rest of us as homeowners?

Big house, big bills

The rebel alliance blew the original Death Star into a trillion bits of space scrap. Galactic Empire engineers then went back to the drawing board. Emperor Palpatine ordered the construction of a new monstrosity of more than 500 miles in diameter – at least five times the size of the original.

Insurance implication: More square footage – or square mileage – means more insurance cost. Insurance carriers calculate the cost of replacing a home in part by square footage and cost of building material.

Lehigh University students compiled an estimate in 2012 of the Death Star’s building costs. Their finding: $8.1 quadrillion. That’s 13,000 times the world GDP. Insurance on the Death Star II would have been astronomical. And that’s if they could get it, given what happened to Death Star I!

What a strain on the Galactic Credit Standard.

Guns, statues, and high-tech recliners

The Death Star itself would be considered a weapon, with its planet-destroying superlaser. On its surface, according to Star Wars enthusiasts: 7,500 laser cannons and 5,000 ion cannons. If the 1.2 million troops and 152,000 gunners also had one weapon each …

Well, the Death Star didn’t have a shortage of firearms.

Weaponry wasn’t the Empire’s only expensive possession on the Death Star. The Emperor’s throne room contained walls of electronics and enormous stone statues. He sat in the mother of all recliners, with touch control to almost anything in the Death Star.

Insurance implication: A typical homeowners’ policy can protect rifles or pistols against fire or theft to a maximum of $2,500. Homeowners should schedule an endorsement for large or collectible arsenal. Talk with your agent about the pieces you own to arrive at an agreeable coverage amount.

Limits for personal property/contents typically run 50-70% of dwelling coverage. Certainly the Emperor’s extravagant amenities could have pushed this. Darth Vader would be wise to save receipts from the Emperor’s recliner and other electronic equipment. To schedule an endorsement for the Emperor’s artwork, he’d likely have to arrange an appraisal for his carrier to keep on file.

Other lessons that could be gleaned:

  • Bundle coverage for discounts. Darth Vader could save a bit by bundling coverage. Many carriers would offer a discount if he insured the Death Star and the tie fighters inside it with them, just as they do for insuring a home and auto.
  • Catch a break with home security. Tractor beams are OK, but they’re not fail-safe, apparently. Darth Vader could have avoided the costly embarrassment of having his home destroyed by rebel pilots – twice – if he’d only installed an alarm with motion detector. He also could have received a discount for installing a security system.
  • Maybe the total loss would be covered. Damage from wind, hail, and aircraft typically are covered in a standard homeowners’ insurance policy – once you pay your deductible. So are losses from riot, vehicles, or smoke. And explosion. Explosion is a covered peril for the common home insurance policy.

Would that cover explosions Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles caused when they shot torpedoes through exhaust vents and coolant shafts?  Maybe Darth’s carrier would foot the bill for that one, unless Luke and Co. are judged to be terrorists. Terrorism is a gray area – many carriers consider it an act of war, which is not covered.

All the same, let’s make sure the exhaust vents in our homes are X-wing fighter proof. Just in case.