How to Insure the White House

(Exploring coverages of presidential status.)
How to insure the White House

All property deserves to be protected, especially when it’s got a rich and extensive history like the White House. There are risks of all kinds that need protecting, and here’s what an independent insurance agent would keep in mind when trying to find the right coverage for all aspects of the White House.

What Does It Take to Insure the White House?

First and foremost, the White House is, well, a house. But it’s also a house that’s occupied by an extremely wealthy family, and would therefore require a unique form of coverage known as high-value home insurance. Since the White House is full of not just high-net-worth individuals but also priceless heirlooms, it would require coverage that could protect the full value of its contents, such as:

    • Antique furniture
    • Rugs and furs
    • Expensive artwork
    • Silver, gold, and fine china
    • Golf equipment
    • Computers and electronics
    • Firearms
    • Electronics

Before insuring personal property under a high-value home insurance policy, often all items must go through an appraisal. Once an official dollar value is determined, the item may be listed on the policy’s coverage schedule. With all of the unique collectibles, etc. inside the White House, an accurate appraisal of its contents could take quite a while to complete.

Just How Large Is the White House?

The White House is huge, and has tons of property that needs to be protected, from the main house to fences, fountains, gardens, and more. To give you a more accurate picture of just how massive the president’s pad is, check out some interesting stats about the White House.

Aside from just the president, the White House is home to:

    • 132 rooms
    • 35 bathrooms
    • 6 levels
    • 412 doors
    • 147 windows
    • 28 fireplaces
    • 8 staircases
    • 3 elevators

When working with a property of such massive scale, coverage must be considered for every square inch. If you were to insure the White House, you’d have to start by contemplating all the possible risks for each area, both inside and out.

What Are the White House’s Biggest Risks?

With such valuable property inside, the White House is certainly a target for thieves. But beyond outside criminals breaking and entering, the White House is also at high risk of inside crime. With all of the hired staff on deck around the clock, it’s understandable that the president and his family would be concerned about employee theft. Luckily, high-value home insurance policies address the need for higher theft limits in their coverage.

Aside from theft, the White House is also a prime target for vandalism, especially during periods of civil unrest. Beyond the main physical building, the White House has tons of property that could be at risk of various types of vandalism, such as fences, gardens and landscaping, vehicles, fountains, and more. Vandalism protection is also built into high-value home insurance policies.

What Are Some Risks That Are Unique to the White House?

Beyond physical property and structures, the actual inhabitants of the White House are constantly at risk, themselves. The president and his family are perhaps the most closely monitored group in the country, and they need ample protection.

One of the more unique coverages offered under high-value home insurance policies is kidnap and ransom insurance. Should any member of the White House ever be the target of kidnappers seeking ransom, this coverage would help with costs required to meet the criminal's demands, as well as for hiring the expert assistance necessary to retrieve any captured individuals.

Additionally, much of the valuable property in the White House is actually virtual, in the form of electronic data. A good cyber liability policy would be absolutely necessary to protect the White House against cyberattacks and data breaches.

Cyber liability coverage would protect the White House in the following ways:

  • Lost income: Cyber liability policies help to recover funds that are stolen due to cyberattacks and data breaches, and also provide reimbursement in the event business operations are temporarily suspended.
  • Costs due to damaged reputation: A cyberattack or data breach impacting the White House could turn into a huge media scandal, but the president would most likely want to keep the incident as quiet as possible. Cyber liability insurance provides public relations protection to help keep the media as quiet as possible.
  • Legal expenses: In the event any personal or sensitive information from the White House was stolen and sold to third parties, such as staff members’ banking information, a lawsuit could arise. Cyber liability coverage pays for things like attorney, court, and settlement fees.
  • Hired professionals: More than likely, in the event of a serious data breach or cyberattack, the White House wouldn’t hesitate to call on a professional programmer or other computer expert to help them repair the damage. Cyber liability policies cover fees for hiring professional help to fix computer systems and patch holes in security.

Once the non-physical property and living, breathing humans inhabiting the White House are adequately protected, it’s time to move on to coverage for the more obvious components, which are explored below.

Coverage for the White House’s Important Property

When it comes to coverage for the White House, there’s lots of ground to cover, literally, from the gardens to the Lincoln bedroom. Fortunately, high-value home insurance includes property coverage with higher limits than regular homeowners insurance policies.

Here’s a look at how the following elements of the true presidential suite would be covered:

  • The gardens and grounds: High-value home insurance policies include some built-in coverage for landscaping, but when it comes to the foliage surrounding a show building like the White House, the policyholder would more than likely want more. Since appearance is important down to every last shrub, coverage add-ons or endorsements would probably be purchased in addition to the base policy, to increase its limits for the maintenance of the White House’s greenery.
  • The fancy rooms: The Lincoln bedroom, Oval Office, master suite, etc. would be covered by a high-value home insurance policy, under the property damage section. Now, when it comes to expensive items inside these rooms, that’s where additional coverage may be necessary.
  • The priceless artwork: One appeal of high-value home insurance policies is that they come with higher limits for more expensive property like artwork. Built-in coverage limits for fine art are typically $2,500, but in a place like the president’s house, where every room is completely decked out, additional coverage would probably need to be purchased. The policyholder could choose to do this by simply extending coverage limits, or through purchasing endorsements for specific pieces, which would have to be appraised.
  • The flashy silverware: The White House is capable of serving meals to 140 guests at once, and you can bet the diners aren’t eating with plastic forks. High-value home insurance policies typically include limits for silverware of up to $2,500, but with so many special events and fancy meals, additional endorsements or add-ons would probably be purchased for the president’s dinner parties.
  • The showy jewelry: The president and first lady often like to be seen wearing serious bling, whether it’s tasteful lapel pins or chunky necklaces and earrings. Such wealthy individuals would be likely to need more coverage than the often built-in limit of $1,500 for jewelry under a high-value home insurance policy. Fortunately, they could easily purchase add-on coverage or endorsements for jewelry as well, following an appraisal of each specific piece.

Property coverage isn’t an area the president would be likely to skimp on. Luckily, coverage limits for even high-value home insurance policies can easily be increased.

Coverage for the White House’s Liabilities

In some shape or form, the White House is always occupied by many bodies. Whether it’s reporters attending a press conference or members of the public taking a guided tour, the White House is full of potential liability issues at all times. High-value home insurance policies include coverage for liability issues relating to third parties suing over injuries or personal property damage. Coverage pays for legal fees, fines, and restitution.

Possible incidents in the White House that would require liability coverage include:

  • A guest falling down one of the 8 staircases while on a tour and injuring themselves.
  • A member of the press tripping over a cameraperson’s tripod and breaking a limb.
  • A reporter’s personal property getting damaged or stolen while on the premises.

A special type of liability coverage may be required to protect visitors to the White House, known as:

  • Premises liability: This coverage would protect against costs associated with third-party injuries and property damage sustained on the White House’s premises. Common injuries include slips and falls.

Since the White House carries such huge risks for liability, however, a huge amount of coverage is necessary — which is explored further below.

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Umbrella Insurance to Extend the White House’s Liability Coverage

With so many visitors, tourists, and workers entering, occupying, and leaving the White House on a daily basis, along with the importance of the activities taking place at all times, it would be imperative for the liability coverage to be ironclad. The amount of legal risk associated with this special property would most certainly require an additional policy known as umbrella insurance.

Umbrella coverage stacks on top of the underlying high-value home insurance policy to extend liability coverage in the event of a huge and costly lawsuit (or several). Though umbrella policies are often bought with coverage limits of $1 million, they can come with limits of up to $5 million or even higher. The policyholder for the White House would more than likely want to purchase as much umbrella coverage as possible to help guard against the place’s extensive legal risks.

Coverage for the White House’s Employees

The President’s Palace is home to all kinds of workers, from gardeners and cooks to maids and beyond, and they need protection, too. As far as legal concerns go, the employees of the White House would be covered under the high-value home insurance policy’s liability section, but employees need coverage in other ways, too.

Employees in the White House would most likely require the following coverages:

  • Crime insurance: This insurance would cover instances of employee theft from the premises. Insider theft may be especially appealing and common in a huge mansion like the White House.
  • Workers’ compensation: If any White House employees became ill, got injured, or died from a work-related incident, this aspect of the insurance would cover the financial ramifications. Coverage is mandatory in DC.
  • Employee practices liability: This coverage would take care of legal fees in the event the White House’s employees were involved in harassment cases against coworkers or members of the public.

With so many high-caliber staff members on the grounds, the White House would need an ample stockpile of coverage to protect all of its hard workers.

Coverage for the President’s Transportation

The president and his crew have multiple forms of transportation that need to be protected, both while on the move and while stationary at the White House. From Air Force One to the presidential motorcade and beyond, the following types of coverage would be necessary:

  • Commercial/business auto insurance: This coverage would provide protection for any White House ground vehicles against things like theft, vandalism, and damage from natural disasters.
  • Aircraft insurance: Sky-bound vehicles such as the president’s helicopter would need a special form of coverage known as aircraft insurance to protect against damage both on the ground and in the air. This coverage comes with much higher limits of up to $50 million or even $150 million and above, and the White House would need just about as high a limit as possible.

Whether the president flies via helicopter to Camp David or enjoys a leisurely drive around the Washington Monument via limo, his vehicle needs to be protected against all kinds of potential hazards.

How Does the White House’s Location Influence the Cost of Coverage?

While you might think the cost of high-value home insurance would be much more expensive in a huge city like DC, actually the opposite may be true. Thanks to the extreme amount of security present all around the White House and in the surrounding areas, coverage may actually be considerably cheaper than for other comparably valued homes. However, since DC is close to the coast, the risk of hurricane damage may hike premium prices up slightly.

If the White House was located further inland and further away from various weather-related perils, the cost of its high-value home insurance policy could be anywhere from 10% to 20% cheaper. Also, if the president’s pad was located in a state like Idaho with less crime risk, the cost of insurance could also drop considerably.

How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

If you were to actually insure the White House, your first stop would be to call an independent insurance agent. These agents search through multiple carriers to find providers that specialize in this type of insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

You Can’t Actually Insure the White House, But…

We may not be able to insure the White House, but we can insure that — whatever "that" is for you. Whether it’s a high-value estate in need of special home insurance, a team of workers, or fleet of commercial vehicles that needs protection, excess liability or expensive property concerns, our independent agents are here for you. Start by finding an independent insurance agent in your community here.

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