Heritage Server > Story Bank > Miscellaneous > Care For A Non-Bear
From The Visiting Fireman, Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 1, February 17, 1969.

Fireman's Fund American, long famous for insuring stars against misfortune during movie-making, has a new twist to the coverage. The glamorous movie star has given way to a winsome koala from the San Diego Zoo.

The koala starred in two soon-to-be-released television commercials that will be directed to Australia-bound air travelers. The commercials were produced in San Diego for Qantas Empire Airways, Ltd. by Cunningham and Walsh, Inc. advertising agency.

Coverage was written by the Excess & Special Risk Department of the San Francisco Branch. According to department manager Ralph Butterfield, a $5,000 animal mortality policy covered the legal liability of Cunningham and Walsh while the koala was in their care, custody and control.

Although commonly called a bear, the koala is actually a marsupial, which means that the female carries its young in a pouch, as does the kangaroo. Like the kangaroo, the koala is native to Australia and is a vegetarian. Its sharp claws are designed to harvest its basic food eucalyptus leaves. The furry creature is sometimes kept as a pet in Australian homes.

Before it was insured, our koala was certified as being healthy by San Diego Zoo veterinarians. The policy required the advertising agency to pay for services of two professional handlers who fed and cared for the animal during filming and while on the way to and from the zoo.

The koala is of great value in the United States since the Australian government imposed an embargo on exportation of the creatures. This is not Fireman's Fund American's first experience with this unusual risk. In 1967, the company insured three koalas during filming of another Qantas commercial.

Fireman's Fund has been writing animal mortality coverage since 1955 and today is a major insurer in the field. The company insures livestock, such as valuable registered beef and dairy dattle [sic] and all kinds of horses.

[Fireman's Fund Archives: 4-1-3-5-30; 1335.]


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