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When stars die, insurers count the cost

The death of Carrie Fisher, a much-loved actor in the “Star Wars” movies, left a hole in the force for fans. It may also burn a hole in the pockets of underwriters, syndicated under Lloyds of London. They may have to fork out as much as $50m to meet Disney’s claim for its loss. The studio, which owns the sci-fi saga, had wisely taken out so-called contractual-protection insurance (CPI) in case death thwarted a contractual obligation: in Ms Fisher’s case to film and promote future “Star Wars” episodes.

Contrary to the headlines, 2016 was not an especially lethal year to be a celebrity. Like the rest of us, they do die. But unlike most of us, their employers can be left with astronomic bills. When Paul Walker, an actor in “The Fast and the Furious”, a series of action movies, died in 2013 while filming the seventh installment, Universal Pictures had to spend considerable effort (and dollars) to make his on-screen persona live on. This included hiring body-doubles and digitally inserting Mr Walker into the movie with hundreds of computer-generated images.

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