Best's Review


$10 Million Dollar Smile

Lloyd's, insurer of famous legs, voices and schnozzolas, adds America Ferrera's pearly whites to celebrity list.
  • Lori Chordas
  • September 2007

One starlet's dazzling teeth are upping the ante on the expression, "million-dollar smile."

Aquafresh White Trays, a teeth-whitening product marketed by GlaxoSmithKline, recently insured the smile of actress America Ferrera, star of the hit ABC-TV show Ugly Betty, for $10 million.

Lloyd's wrote the policy, said to be one of the most valuable policies the insurer has ever issued for a body part. Wendy Baker, president of Lloyd's America, said the company was "happy to help insure yet another famous celebrity."

Aquafresh White Trays' senior brand manager, Michele Klingensmith, added that "Lloyd's has more than 300 years of experience devising innovative insurance policies for unique situations, including a long history of celebrity insurance. Because of that experience, we thought they were the perfect fit for helping Aquafresh White Trays insure Ms. Ferrera's smile."

The announcement was made this past spring to kick off a sweepstakes benefiting Smiles for Success, a nationwide organization that provides free dental care for women transitioning from welfare to work. Aquafresh supported the organization by donating $1 from every box of White Trays purchased between May 10 and August 31, up to $100,000. Smiles for Success works with more than 150 dental professional volunteers in more than 30 states. The program covers the cost of basic dental care including cleanings, fillings and root extractions for women who are graduates of accredited job readiness and placement programs or other community-based agency programs. The Smiles for Success Foundation was established in 1995 by the American Association of Women Dentists.

Lloyd's' history of insuring celebrity body parts dates back to the 1920s, Baker said. Insured celebrities have included guitarist Keith Richards, Marlene Dietrich, supermodel Christy Turlington, singer Billy Joel and even Santa Claus' beard. The company once issued a $28,000 policy against actress Bette Davis gaining weight, and a $39.24 million policy on Celtic dance sensation Michael Flatley's legs.

Celebrities' legs have become a popular insured risk over the years. Actress Betty Grable was one of the first celebrities to have her famous legs insured—for $1 million by Lloyd's. Fred Astaire's legs were insured for $75,000 apiece. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer had her face insured for $5 million and rock star Bruce Springsteen's voice is indemnified for $6 million. And entertainer Jimmy Durante's famous nose—his beloved Schnozzola—was once covered for $50,000.

Celebrity body-part policies are essentially disability income protection policies, said Baker. "What they look for when underwriting the policies is if there's a reasonable need for the policy and whether the specific body part allows the person to earn a living."

In the TV show, Ferrera plays the character Betty Suarez, an ugly duckling with braces on her teeth. In a statement, the actress said she found it "very flattering to have my smile insured for $10 million. It's not something that I ever imagined happening." She recently won best TV comedy actress and the show won best comedy at the 2007 Golden Globes. She is nominated for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series" at this year's Emmys, to be held in Los Angeles on Sept. 16.

"We think America is a terrific role model and was perfect for this initiative as she exemplifies the importance of being confident about whom and what you are," said Klingensmith. "Plus, her big smile is a perfect example of how a radiant smile can help boost self-confidence and allow your inner beauty to shine through. When a woman is proud to smile, you know that she's happy and has a strong sense of who she is, and all women deserve to feel that way."

By Lori Chordas, senior associate editor, Best's Review:

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