Dear Baily Special Risks Insurance Agency,

While I realize Connecticut is somewhat outside of your usual business area, I have had difficulty finding an adequate insurer in the more immediate vicinity. Specifically, I am interested in an estimate of what your firm would charge a university of approximately 7,000 students for a comprehensive pterodactyl insurance policy. While we acknowledge pterodactyl-related fatalities are rare at best, we feel that our students can never be too well protected. Thank you.


Nicholas Danforth
Risk Management Division
Yale University

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From: Lee Thomas
To: Nicholas Danforth

If there is enough money in it, you never know!

Tell me more.


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Of course there would be money in it. We don’t honestly expect you to cover our university for free. The question really is how much money. Ideally, we would like to insure all 5,500 undergraduates, as well as 276 full professors and a somewhat smaller number of professors emeriti. Obviously, professors are associated with much lower rates of pterodactyl attacks than students, but, as they are of more value to the university, we would want to insure them at higher rates. Furthermore, as alcohol and/or drug abuse has been cited in four of the last six reported pterodactyl encounters, we would not expect any policy to cover students acting under the influence. I hope this is sufficient information for at least a preliminary estimate, but if there is anything else you need, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,
Nick Danforth

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I need to understand more about the exposure before we could approach an insurance company that might have interest.

1. Within what territory are you concerned about these attacks? Is it local, regional, or worldwide?

2. When an attack occurs, is it more likely to be from a living pterodactyl or a dead one?

3. How many pterodactyls are there?

4. Of this number, how many are living? How many are dead?

5. When an attack occurs, what is the result?

6. Please provide a schedule of benefits which you would like to offer for such things as Death, disability (permanent, temporary partial, or total).

7. There would likely be an alcohol, etc exclusion.

8. What premium charge per student would your students be able to afford?

9. If offered, how many of your students/professors would be willing to purchase the coverage?

10. Availability of coverage will likely hinge on the premium charge per covered person and your ability to obtain maximum participation.

Will await your interesting and informative reply.


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Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. As you can well imagine, there were a number of departments I had to speak to in order to properly answer your questions. Let me share with you the information I have gathered.

1. The most important coverage would be for Yale students in the New Haven area, but we would also want to include the possibility of attacks against our students traveling overseas. As the State Department has declared China, Taiwan, and Mongolia “pterodactyl high-risk zones,” however, students would travel in these areas at their own risk.

2. When attacks occur, they’re much more likely to be from living pterodactyls. Dead pterodactyls have trouble flying, and have often lost that all-consuming lust for human flesh that drives living pterodactyls to attack in the first place.

3. The number of pterodactyls could be in the thousands, but it is notoriously difficult to assess. Pterodactyls are predominantly illiterate, and as such will often provide incomplete or simply erroneous information on census forms. To complicate matters, Congress has repeatedly vetoed efforts to allow statistical modeling techniques in assessing pterodactyl populations.

4. It is even more difficult to calculate how many pterodactyls are living and how many are dead. On the few census forms that have been returned, many pterodactyls have simply left this question blank, or worse, checked both boxes. They are quick to anger and often shred the form to use for bedding.

5. No one really knows the results of pterodactyl attacks. Students and young children are just carried off into the sky. Where they go is a mystery.

6. We have often have to tell grieving parents, “No one can bring your child back, except maybe the pterodactyl, but that’s beside the point. Nevertheless, we would like to provide a small return on the considerable amount of money you have invested in your child and his education — money no one expected to see carried away in the beak of a large, thought-to-be-extinct dinosaur.”

7. We’re in definite agreement about the need for an alcohol exclusion. Any students found to have consumed alcohol, taken narcotics, or smeared themselves in steak sauce in the hours leading up to the attacks will be assumed to be at fault, and thus denied coverage.

8. Each student could probably pay between two and three hundred dollars towards the policy.

9. Coverage will be mandatory for all 5,500 students and optional for 275 or so professors.

10. As I said there will be approximately 5,500 students all paying between two and three hundred dollars. This will make up the bulk of the policy.

Hope this information is sufficient for an estimate. Many thanks on your continued willingness to help us better meet the needs of our students.


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Needless to say, I have enjoyed the opportunity to have discourse with you on this pressing exposure to you and your associates; however, I am afraid we will have to decline this risk due to the inability to procure verifiable answers to questions 3, 4, 5, and 6. As a student of insurance, I am certain that you understand the requirements of an insurable hazard.

I wish I could point you to other sources that might be of assistance; however, I myself am in the dark as to who might offer terms.

All the best!