Satellite insurance: Inexpensive, profitable, abundant — and walking on thin ice

by Peter B. de Selding

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Space insurance underwriters in 2017 booked their fourth consecutive year of profitability but also registered another year in which total premium revenue would have been insufficient to cover a single failure of a highly insured European Ariane 5 rocket.

A highly insured Ariane 5 carrying two large telecommunications satellites can carry $800 million in insurance. Insurers pocketed $680 million in premiums and paid out $250 million in claims for 2017.

Not all Ariane 5 launches are insured for that much. For example, the Jan. 25 flight . . .

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