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Calculations: Insurance for clowns

Clown insurance is for clowns, not for persons potentially afflicted by them. Insurance companies offer it to clowns because clowns – no matter what you may thoughtlessly think of them – are people, and bad things can happen to anyone.

Clown insurance exists, as a distinct product category, thanks to the mathematical discipline called risk assessment. Industry researchers calculate that every year enough bad things happen to enough clowns to reliably yield a profit. Clowns, as a group, perform a benefit/cost calculation; that’s why, year after year, they spend money to defend against life’s practical jokes.

The UK boasts several suppliers of insurance for clowns. Blackfriars Insurance Brokers, for one, offers public liability clown insurance of up to £5m cover. Their website boasts, not unkindly, of “products to meet the business and personal insurance needs of clowns”.

(Be aware, though, that a website temptingly appears to just an example of a marketing concept.)…

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian


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