Extreme Travel Is Inspiring New Types of Insurance

The tragic deaths of five people on a tour to see the Titanic shipwreck this week have put the risks of extreme travel into focus. But despite the dangers, travel to out-there locations like the South Pole, remote mountaintops, shark-infested waters and space is becoming more popular.

Adventure tourism is expected to bring in more than $1 trillion of revenue globally by 2030, up from an expected $316.6 billion in 2022, according to the market research firm Grand View Research.

And as interest grows, so, too, will the number of search and rescue missions, says Mikki Hastings, president of the National Association for Search and Rescue. “Whether it’s space or Everest, every person deserves to be found,” she said.

The number of businesses aiming to mitigate the danger and potential emergency costs of extreme travel are starting to rise. Some offer rescue and medical evacuation from remote locations. Others are working out new types of insurance policies for pursuits like space travel.

Traditional travel insurance won’t swoop in with paramedics, even though it typically covers the cost of an emergency. Dan Richards, the chief executive of Global Rescue, told DealBook that he wanted to fill that gap when he founded the emergency travel management company in 2004. For a $360 annual fee, it provides members with evacuation services. Upgrades, including one that promises “military special operations veterans” will retrieve you from dangerous locations like war zones, can raise the fee to about $1,800. Similarly, Medjet, a medical evacuation service, sells annual memberships, and companies like AirMed International, SkyMed and others offer emergency extractions.

Travel insurance is going to space. With companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic selling tickets for trips, the market for space tourism is expected to grow to about $3 billion by 2030, according to estimates from UBS. The space travel insurance market is still small, but Lloyd’s of London, which insures space businesses, began underwriting space travel insurance in 2021, and last year the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance said they would jointly develop space insurance offerings.

Taxpayers will end up footing the bill for some rescues. The cost of search and rescue typically falls on state and local agencies, Ms. Hastings said. About a half-dozen states have laws that allow agencies to charge a rescue recipient, though few do, and there is no cost to those rescued by the federal park services, for example. Last year, lawmakers from Hawaii and Utah introduced legislation to allocate federal funds to help states pay for search and rescue operations, a burden that the drafters said disproportionately fell on less populous places, but the bill failed to gain traction.

The search for the submersible this week most likely cost millions of dollars. The Coast Guard, which led the rescue effort, has jurisdiction over search and rescue in navigable waters in the United States and beyond. “But that’s just the definition of their mission,” Ms. Hastings argues. “We don’t encourage charging for search and rescue because we want people to seek help regardless of socioeconomic status.”

Mr. Richards said a client of Global Rescue had signed up for the Titan trip this week, but withdrew his deposit because of safety concerns. Though his team would have worked with international rescuers if the customer had followed through with his plans, the company would not have had the requisite deep sea capabilities. There are some journeys where risk can’t really be mitigated yet, he said, adding, “If there’s an emergency in space, no one will be able to necessarily reach people.” — Ephrat Livni


Saudi Arabia goes shopping in Europe. Executives and government officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, blitzed Paris this week as part of a road show to attract investment and make its case to host the World Expo in 2030. The oil-rich kingdom has been on a push to diversify its economy and expand its global presence, through investments in a range of sectors including sports.

Lina Khan finally takes on Amazon. The F.T.C. chair shot to fame at the age of 29, when she wrote an academic article criticizing the tech company’s dominance of large parts of the American economy. Three years later, her agency has sued Amazon over a different issue: the F.T.C. accused the company of tricking customers into signing up for Prime, its streaming and subscription shopping service.

Musk vs. Zuck? The tech billionaires Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have apparently agreed to a cage fight, after goading each other on social media. Mr. Musk admitted he almost never works out but the Facebook founder has recently taken up Brazilian jujitsu and competed in tournaments and endurance contests.

Prandial Peru. Central, a restaurant in Lima, was crowned the best eatery anywhere by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, one of the most prestigious lists. The venue is known for its creative approach to using domestically produced ingredients and trying to adhere to the traditions and culture of the country.

India’s soft power secret

An all-star team from corporate America was in Washington this week for the state visit of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. And the high number of Indian-American chief executives involved was a demonstration of how the country’s diaspora has found a unique place at the nexus of business and political power — and helped boost the country’s image.

The White House dinner was a roll call of top talent. The invite list included the Microsoft chief Satya Nadella; Sundar Pichai, the boss of Alphabet; Arvind Krishna, the head of IBM; the Micron chief Sanjay Mehrotra; and Netflix’s chief content officer, Bela Bajaria. Alongside the business leaders were a number of senior government officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, whose mother was from South India.

Mr. Modi has made tapping into the diaspora a priority. He has held two huge stadium rallies in the United States since becoming prime minister in 2014 — at Madison Square Garden that year and the NRG Stadium in Houston in 2019 — and another in Australia last month. Still, his politics are controversial, and he has been blamed for stoking sectarian violence; in 2005, he was denied a visa to enter the United States when he was chief minister of Gujarat State.

But even if views on Mr. Modi are mixed, the view of India is largely positive. A Pew Research Center survey found 37 percent of Indian Americans had little or no confidence in Mr. Modi compared with 21 percent who did. But more than half of Indian Americans have a more positive view of the country.

Targeting the diaspora is an astute move. Indians are the second biggest immigrant group in the United States and seen as a success story. They have a median household income of almost $150,000 a year, the highest of any immigrant groups, and account for a majority of H-1B visas for highly-skilled workers. They also maintain strong links to India, through remittances that surpassed $100 billion in 2022, and contacts, cross-border trade and investment.

And their success is a useful form of soft power. Joseph Nye, the Harvard professor who coined the term, told The Economist that Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist politics pose a risk to India’s reputation, but “if you have people in diaspora who are successful and create a positive image of the country from which they came, that helps their native country.”

The greatest hits of Masa Son’s wild PowerPoint presentations

SoftBank is known for big moves like introducing the iPhone in Japan and its outsized, and not always successful, bets on start-ups. But its founder, Masa Son, is also famous for his excitable, elaborate and, sometimes, unusual presentations.

His colorful style has been missed in the past year as the chief executive laid low amid the conglomerate’s struggling performance. But this week, Mr. Son returned to the public stage at SoftBank’s annual shareholder meeting with a new slide deck.

His presentation featured slides that asked big questions — including “What is Mankind?” — and the billionaire’s story of how he brainstormed investment ideas with ChatGPT at 4 a.m.

Still, to longtime Mr. Son watchers, it’s tough to compete with his previous presentations, which were just as memorably offbeat and unabashedly grandiose. (Son relies on a half-dozen young SoftBank employees to draft his presentations, with his direct input, according to Bloomberg.)

Here are some of DealBook’s favorites from over the years:

Mr. Son depicted SoftBank as “producer of golden eggs,” whose shiny-shelled progeny included investments in Uber, the chip designer Arm and more.

The “valley of coronavirus,” a classic, shows SoftBank’s winged unicorns — that is, the herd of start-ups it has invested in — flying over the economic trough carved out by Covid-19.

Mr. Son explained SoftBank offers “vision capital,” not venture capital. Here, Mr. Son also predicted that A.I. would grow companies’ market caps so much that those numbers … simply couldn’t be charted.

SoftBank predicted a sharp rebound in WeWork’s fortunes, including one of the most hopeful-seeming earnings charts in recent memory.

Mr. Son used pictures of tofu to illustrate SoftBank’s profits. (A footnote explains the analogy.)

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Ephrat Livni reports from Washington on the intersection of business and policy for DealBook. Previously, she was a senior reporter at Quartz, covering law and politics, and has practiced law in the public and private sectors.   @el72champs

Ravi Mattu is the managing editor of DealBook, based in London. He joined The New York Times in 2022 from the Financial Times, where he held a number of senior roles in Hong Kong and London. @ravmattu

Michael de la Merced joined The Times as a reporter in 2006, covering Wall Street and finance. Among his main coverage areas are mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies and the private equity industry. @m_delamerced Facebook

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