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Spokesperson Got You Nervous? There's Help

November 17, 1994|THOMAS S. MULLIGAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Death before dishonor!" goes the ancient battle cry.

But where a company's celebrity spokesperson is concerned, either result is to be feared.

That's why a unit of American International Group Inc. has begun offering "Death, Disablement and Disgrace" insurance.

The policies--with coverage limits up to $5 million--protect corporations "against losses associated with the cancellation of celebrity promotions or endorsements due to events that are beyond the insured's control," Robert R. Brace, president of AIG's American International Entertainment subsidiary, said Wednesday.

The insurance compensates companies for the loss of irrecoverable production costs or the expense of revising a promotional campaign for the same product.

AI Entertainment has long been writing entertainment performance coverage--insuring that the Rolling Stones will show up for a concert, for example--and Brace described the new product as "an extension of what we've done."

"Heightened scrutiny by the media has increased the need for this type of coverage," he added, though he declined to cite specific cases.

Some obvious examples leap to mind, however. O.J. Simpson was a spokesman for Hertz before he became a murder defendant. Actor James Garner promoted the beef industry before encountering well-publicized heart problems.

Besides using medical tests and other documentation to help gauge the risk posed by a particular spokesperson, the insurers might also take into account a celebrity's media image, Brace said.

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