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Fancy some nooky? You'll need protection

Forget third party, fire and theft - now willing consumers can insure themselves against bad sex. By Paul Slade
EVER WOKEN up next to an ugly stranger? Bought a bad album? Ruined your clothes in the wash, or had a bad haircut? Fear not, you can now obtain insurance against these and life's many other vicissitudes, including crisis moments such as your team losing the FA Cup Final.

The cover available includes insuring against failure to perform in bed, according to Maxim, a laddish men's magazine. Its May edition concludes that readers would have to pay an annual premium of pounds 20 for this particular cover. In return, they could expect a payout of up to pounds 500 if they failed to rise to the occasion.

The policies are sold by insurance agents Goodfellows Rebecca Ingrims Pearson (Grip), an insurer known for marketing "straight" policies, such as accident and unemployment cover, as well as "frivolous" insurance, including protection against virgin births.

But when it comes to meeting claims, Grip is far from a soft touch. The firm's underwriting director, Simon Burgess, says: "In all these cases, the devil is in the detail, and the burden of proof would be on you. You'd probably have to get a written declaration from your wife that you couldn't get it up.

"If there was a pre-existing medical condition, then that would be excluded, and obviously one would have a `14 pints of lager' exclusion."

The temporary impotence policy is often bought not by the poten- tial claimant himself, but by friends anxious to add some spice to the best man's speech.

Already on Grip's books with similar policies are US President Bill Clinton - insured by a Republican rival as a publicity stunt - and a porn star named Huw Jardon.

Grip's cover against such perils as getting served a bad pint in the pub would cost pounds 20 and the potential payout would be pounds 30. A policy against waking up next to an ugly person would cost you pounds 150, and could pay out pounds 200.

However, Malcolm Tarling, spokesman at the Association of British Insurers, is unimpressed. He says: "Who decides what a bad pint is? What are you going to do - take the pint along to your insurance company and ask them to analyse it?"