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The sky is falling! Will my insurance carrier pay for the damage?

Officials from NASA announced recently that an expired climate satellite lhad ost its orbit and would fall to Earth. People in Florida and elsewhere in the country had been wondering if their home or even their person could be hit by falling debris. It is no surprise that people question whether their insurance company will pick up the tab to repair any damage -- the satellite weighs 6 tons.

Homeowners can breathe a tentative sigh of relief. According to a spokesperson for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, damage caused by an object falling from space onto a home is covered under most property insurance policies.

But the same space junk falling onto a car may be another matter entirely. The compensation an insured would receive in this case is a function of whether the auto policy includes comprehensive coverage. Unfortunately, many car owners let this coverage lapse when the car gets older and is nearing the end of its useful life.

What happens if a person gets hit by falling space debris? Most health insurance policies cover injuries sustained by falling objects. So, a person struck by one of the smaller pieces of the satellite (the largest was estimated to weigh 350 pounds) should be covered for treatment.

The chance of anyone or any personal property being struck by an object falling out of Earth's orbit is fairly remote. Officials maintained that the risk of getting hit by a piece of the satellite as it fell to Earth was 1 in 3,200. That figure translates to 1 in 10 trillion if you spread the risk over the 7 billion people in the world.

Source: MSN Money, "The sky is falling: Insurance for satellite debris," Sept. 19, 2011

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