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Travel insurance firm announces plans to cover intergalactic tourists

Travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance has teamed up with the International Space Transport Association (ISTA) to look at providing 'bespoke' travel insurance for space tourists as flights and holidays outside of our planet become more reality than fantasy.

'At Allianz Global Assistance, we are looking into space tourism as a new market for the next generation of travellers,' said Erick Morazin, Director of Global Accounts.

'Space is decidedly our new frontier and we are now ready to take this giant leap forward to ensure peace of mind and well-being of all our future space-travelling customers.'

Mr Morazin told TravelMail that they were hoping to offer insurance products from January 2012 but could only make predictions based 'on the current knowledge we have.'

He added that they were working out the particulars as operators other than Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic - which plans to offer commercial space flights from October 2012 - potentially entered the market.

Mr Morazin said there were currently 20 different elements that needed to be taken into account in regards to insurance and space tourism

Products would include cover for aspects such as space training, the duration of the trip and trip cancellation.

Mr Morazin used the example of Virgin Galactic where a ticket costs $200,000 (GBP 126,726) and the deposit starts from $20,000 (GBP 12,672). 

A cancellation will mean a refund of some of the deposit and the travel insurance - priced around 700 Euros - would cover the shortfall, he said.

Lost luggage, meanwhile, might be another story.

'We don't expect luggage to be lost in space. If the luggage is lost in space, we won't be able to recover it,' he said.

It is unclear what might happen if space tourists are taken ill or indeed if your passport is stolen by intergalactic pickpockets.

A statement from Allianz Global Assistance this week reassured tourists: 'The two partners are committed to accompanying travellers before, during and after their space flight to ensure that their unique galactic experience, as well as the experience of their families back on earth, will be as safe, serene and comfortable as possible.'

The news comes as no surprise as the battle for space tourism has been hotting up in recent years.

Virgin Galactic has invested in its 1,800-acre Spaceport America base in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

And this summer Russia also unveiled its plans for a 'boutique' hotel in space with room for just seven guests in four cabins.

Visitors will be able to enjoy views of earth through large windows and feast on microwave meals rather than freeze-dried fare.

Transfers will be a mission though - it will take two days aboard a rocket that costs a rather eye-watering GBP 500,000. And that's on top of GBP 100,000 for a five-day holiday at the hotel.



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