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Hero Insurance

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Valid only in New York City. If you wreck anything in Hoboken, you're on the hook for it.

"It's tough to do a good deed. Just look at your professional good deed doers. Your Lone Rangers, your Superman, your Batman, your Spider-Man, your Elasticman. They are all wearing disguises, masks over their faces. Secret identities. Don't want people to know who they are. It's too much aggravation. 'Superman, yeah thanks for saving my life, but did you have to come through my wall? I'm renting here, I've got a security deposit. What am I supposed to do?'"

Heroes never get in trouble for plowing through buildings, demolishing half the city, killing seventeen people and injuring three, taking things that do not belong to them, or jaywalking, as long as they're being heroic. The necessary explanation seems to be that they've got very, very good insurance, that will take care of everything, including the costs of cleanup, repair, and presumably fat settlements for the people who want to sue the hero's spandex-clad bottom off. Of course, there's also the matter of Secret Identity: even if you wanted to sue Superman for damages, who exactly are you supposed to file your case against?

At worst, the hero will face an Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving speech at the end, but often there's not even that. Morality doesn't come into play, as the consequences of the hero's actions are all but ignored. This is why even The Cape can get away with gross negligence for the safety of innocent people; it's assumed that somehow, nobody will get hurt, and the property damage tab will gladly be picked up by someone else.

This trope often occurs with Hero with Bad Publicity, in that people's anger is wrongly directed at the hero, rather than at the villain who caused the trouble in the first place. Civilians who whine about rescues they don't like can often come across as Ungrateful Bastards when it doesn't seem to occur to them that they could end up enslaved, dead or worse if The Bad Guy Wins and the hero doesn't stop them.

This is sometimes handwaved with the heroes actually mentioning that they've got insurance that will cover this—and is actually a specific rule featured in the old Comics Code—but it's unclear how any insurance company could do this and still turn a profit. Logically, they shouldn't be able to pay for the on-panel destruction unless they are also collecting mammoth premiums from many other superheroes who don't make big claims. So whenever Superman punches through a wall, somewhere, a less-violent hero like Oracle sees her premiums go up? That money has to come from somewhere! Other times the handwave comes from the fact that the hero is a billionaire and could pay for the rebuilds.

This is a popular subject in the Deconstruction, where destructive heroes are often portrayed as not much better than the villains they're fighting. In less serious works, this trope can be lampshaded with Action Insurance Gag.

However, many countries do have laws in place that prevent someone from being held liable for damage caused while saving someone's life. In the USA they are known as Good Samaritan laws. Similarly, common law has the "necessity defense": one can avoid conviction for illegal acts by showing that they were necessary to prevent a much greater harm note . Such laws probably wouldn't apply in some of the more extreme cases of "heroic" destructiveness but is likely an easy enough excuse in situations where the damage caused is minor or where the threat stopped is sufficiently important. However, in some cases like bank robberies and other types of theft, stopping the villain always ends up costing more than just writing off what was stolen.

At times, the Reset Button and Status Quo Is God will pay for most damages and unless Hilarity Sues and Plot Armor prevents this trope, heroes will never ever ever have to pay.

A subtrope of Saved by the Awesome. See also Never Say "Die", A-Team Firing, No Endor Holocaust. Compare Designated Hero, Wrongful Accusation Insurance, Pay Evil unto Evil, and Paying for the Action Scene. Contrast Hilarity Sues. A real concern for the Walking Disaster Area. Commonly subverted by having the rescued begin Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Fan Works 
  • In More Than Human, the city of Townsville has higher tax rates to pay for the large amount of damages done by monster attacks and by The Powerpuff Girls fighting back.
  • The story Eiga Sentai Scanranger lampshades this, as a protestor points out the issue with the Scanranger team’s fights is the damage that the students then have to pay for. Not only is he proven wrong by turning out to be a monster, but this soon gets justified by the fact the rangers' backers also supply the people and resources to fix everything that gets broken during their fights.
  • Hecate: Averted. Having missed several days of school because of the Battle City tournament, Yugi and his friends have to work hard to catch up on several days of homework.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl endeavors to move her battles away from inhabited places. When this isn't possible, she repairs the damage caused by her fights. Commented by her enemy Satan Girl
    The third time, she was manifest as Nightflame, a giant sword-wielding woman who wreaked havoc in San Francisco, born of her old identity and some other elements added from Kara's psyche, amplified by a mage who existed in a sub-atomic universe on a world somehow within Kara.[...]
    No killing that time, but she had wreaked undeniable mayhem. It had taken Supergirl a whole afternoon to clean things up.
  • Mentioned (for laughs) in DC Nation where Roy Harper is bitching about having to take out additional insurance for a rented Winnebago because he is a publicly-out "cape." Turned out he NEEDED the coverage when six rogues, a corresponding number of Titans, Wonder Woman, and a Green Lantern show up at his location (middle of nowhere Arizona) for a throwdown.
  • Touched on in The Girl Who Loved, where it turns out that most Tokyo-based Supers donate the profits from their toy deals to charity to keep people from coming after them about property damage.
  • The Mad Scientist Wars:
    • Subverted. Xyon City has an "abandoned warehouse district" that is paid for by a tax on explosives. When old abandoned warehouses are destroyed, new ones are built. The reasoning seems to be that if people are going to blow stuff up, it might as well be in a designated area away from the important stuff. Played straight in that this doesn't always work.
    • A storyline involves the characters trying to run a group of heroes out of town, partially because of this trope.
    • Contractors in the city give discounts depending on the number of times your house has been destroyed.
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams has the title character using his warp vision to repair some of the property damage caused by his murderous fight with Psyko.
  • Several The Sentinel fanfics talk of Jim's high automobile insurance premiums, and one contractor says he put his kid through college on repairs to the Loft.
  • Discussed in concept in the Harry Potter fic "Disrespecting Authority", when Ginny contemplates slipping Umbridge veritaserum to make her admit that she's using the Imperius Curse to control Professor McGonagall; Sirius notes that while Umbridge would at least potentially be in trouble, in that scenario people are more likely to focus on trying to find out who used the potion on Umbridge to make her confess, which could taint the subsequent investigation into Umbridge's own crimes.
  • Crimson and Emerald: The Heroics Commission give Endeavor a warning due to the collateral damage he causes in his fight. Combined with his more negative publicity, it tells Endeavor it will be difficult to reclaim the #2 spot.
  • Played with in Young Justice: Darkness Falls. Clearly there is a mandate that heroes get some grumbles over the destruction they cause. However, there's also reason to suspect that Batman helps cover any serious damages thanks to a line mentioning that he regularly donates to restoration jobs after his battles.
  • Stupor Heroics: The story completely averts this.
    • Lynn is forced to remain incognito after one of her stunts destroyed a historic bridge and has to deny the existence of bridges to avoid legal trouble.
    • Lori and Lynn have to foot the bill for any damage they inflict on Lincoln's apartment.
    • Superheroes in general need specially designed, and expensive, equipment to deal with their enhanced strength.
  • The Soulmate Timeline has this come up despite the fact that most magical girl fights take place in other dimensions. Mami, who often needs to leave school to go after witches and also likes to keep up her impeccable record of attendance and avoid trouble, has taken to causing minor damage to the school's gas pipes to induce immediate school evacuations. While she's very careful to only cause enough to be noticed and not endanger anyone, she's been doing this for years to a point the school's chronic gas pipe repairs have caused the city's taxes to go up. Homura makes note that they mustn't let Sayaka know the truth about the gas leaks as if she contracts she'll likely abuse this just to get out of school days.

  • The Dogs of War: The mercenaries planning a coup in a small African republic are told to take out insurance for a short sea voyage from Europe to Africa. Any survivors would swear that the covered party fell overboard, or lost a limb due to shifting cargo during a storm.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book 1 (Dealing with Dragons) mentions that a famous hero is mocked because, when he threw a rampaging giant into a lake to drown it, the resulting flood actually did more damage than the giant itself would have.
  • Averted in the 1958 sci-fi thriller Gold in the Sky by Alan E. Nourse. Our heroes are kidnapped by Merrill Tawney, the Corrupt Corporate Executive of an asteroid mining corporation, and are held prisoner on his spaceship. They succeed in sabotaging the spaceship and use Tawney as a hostage to escape, but wonder why he's acting so smug when they take him back to Mars to be handed over to the United Nations Patrol. Instead, the UN arrests them for kidnapping and space piracy while Tawney laughs his head off.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Before the fifth book, Fudge is quite committed to providing this for Harry, making several special exceptions for him to avoid him getting into too much trouble. He considers Harry, as "the boy who lived" a special case, a Double Standard that Snape criticizes, noting that Harry is better off being treated like any other student (a valid point, though hollow given Snape's bias to treat Harry worse than any other student). This bites Fudge in the ass when he attempts to dredge up these instances to smear Harry, at which Dumbledore points out that Fudge himself was happy to dismiss them at the time.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after a battle in a cafe, Harry and the others take the time to actually repair the damage. Only to save their own hides. Other Death Eaters would've seen the damage and known where they were. However, it is very considerate of Hermione to pay for the food they steal while they're on the run.
  • The Henchman's Survival Guide solves this from the opposite end. All hero and villain activity is restricted to Little Big City, and one of the conditions of living, or visiting, is signing paperwork to waive your rights to sue for damages.
  • Averted in the Hurog book Dragon Bones: when the heroes travel through a country where people from their country are universally hated, and no one sells them anything, they ration the food, and make do with what they have, instead of stealing things. Also, after killing some bandits, they give back everything that belonged to the village people. Eventually, this pays off and people are friendlier to them. When, at the end, Ward destroys a whole castle, it is his own castle, so no one can be angry at him for damaging their property.
  • The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm by Daryl Gregory shows the collateral damage among citizens who happen to be living in a country ruled by a supervillain when it's 'invaded' for the umpteenth time by American superheroes... What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?
  • In the superhero novel Just Cause, this trope is parodied by playing it straight: the titular organization does in fact have insurance to cover damages caused by their battles, as do most other superhero organizations. The "most" part concerns protagonist Mustang Sally, as the previous group she was a part of trashed a science hall in the first few chapters in a failed attempt to get a supervillain.
  • In The Lives of Christopher Chant, when Christopher's magic first emerged, it did so rather spectacularly, trashing his teacher's house in the process. His teacher then spent the next month forcing him to fix everything that he broke.
  • Averted in Lockwood & Co., as the heroes' negligence makes them ineligible for their fines to be covered by the ghost-hunting government agency.
  • In a The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization, Solo and Kuryakin actually give a woman UNCLE's insurance agency's card, to pay for the hole they cut in her floor.
  • Averted in Nightside; the protagonist, John Taylor, is now classified under Acts of Gods by the insurance companies.
  • Quiller is not allowed to steal or damage private property during the course of a mission, and he's always griping about how his expenses are scrutinized minutely. This is sometimes used as a Hand Wave as to why the British spy doesn't just James Bond his way out of a situation.
  • In Shadowboy, Hero Insurance is a literal requirement to be a licensed hero with individual premiums for collateral, liability and medical, depending upon the hero's destructiveness and durability.
  • In The Specialist by Gayle Rivers, the mercenary protagonist is recruited for a mission into Beirut. He doesn't take out insurance but mentions there's nothing to stop him from doing so, as no insurance company would be told he was thrown off a Druze command post with a knife between his shoulder blades. The most violent death that would happen to him officially would be a car accident.
  • Spider-Man: Sinister Six Trilogy: Secret of the Sinister Six features a radio advertisement for metahuman insurance, including testimonials from people who had the Hulk thrown through their kitchen.
  • In Super Powereds and Corpies, such things are handled by the Department of Variant Human Affairs, a federal agency that licenses Supers, who have gone through the four-year Hero Certification Program at one of the five universities that offer it, to be full-fledged Heroes. Only Heroes are allowed to actively engage criminal Supers and Powereds. Any other Super, who tries his or her hand at vigilante justice, will quickly find him- or herself in jail. Only Hero actions are covered by the DVA. Also, there is a reason the HCP is a Training from Hell. Only the best of the best Supers are permitted to become Heroes (no more than 50 are licensed per year in the entire country), and the DVA comes down hard on Heroes whose carelessness causes needless destruction and casualties. Heroes can find themselves restricted to non-combat activities or even have their license revoked permanently. Also, no HCP accepts an applicant with a criminal record, although one makes an exception in Corpies, when a trusted Hero vouches for her.
  • Villains Don't Date Heroes!: Standard policy seems to be to blame any destruction the heroes cause on the villains they were trying to stop. This annoys the villain Night Terror to no end, as she had a strong policy of no collateral damage, and the hero Fialux causes more damage in a couple weeks than Night Terror did in her entire career.
  • Insurance is mentioned in the Wearing the Cape series, as are rules of engagement that explicitly say make every effort to avoid civilians in superhuman fights. Woe to the superhero who tries to play the Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! clause without an ironclad excuse.
  • Words of Radiance: In a more low-key version. Shallan manages to convince a gang of deserters to protect her caravan from another gang of deserters, promising them clemency for their crimes in return, despite the fact that there's a kill-on-sight order out on them. Once she gets to civilization and speaks to Highprince Dalinar, he agrees without a second thought, noting that he's never liked hanging soldiers, deserters or not. She does snarkily remind the deserters that it's only clemency for past crimes, not any future ones.
  • X-Wing Series: When the Wraiths start a Bar Brawl as phase one of their latest Zany Scheme, they actually pay for the damages to the bar... or more accurately, they rob the soldiers they had beaten up and use that money to pay for the damages.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lampshaded in Charmed (1998). In Billie's first battle with a demon, she hits an empty seat in a movie theater with a fireball, and wonders, "Now help me out here, I'm new at this. Who pays for that?" But mostly averted with the No Using Spells for Personal Gain rules: the sisters must cover damage done to the home out of their own pocket. They lampshade it by noting one window repair man likes their business.
  • Also lampshaded in Angel: after a Super Window Jump he comments that the demons were now good guys who "own a number of restaurants with pretty expensive windows".
  • Power Rangers:
    • The Rangers were bad about this. In the never ending series of the same name, the protagonists often leveled up to a quarter of the city they live in while fighting of some random mooks. Building destruction has been greatly toned down since 9/11, though.
    • It has also often been lampshaded throughout the show's run. Early on, battles took place in the "abandoned warehouse district", presumably because abandoned warehouses are just begging to be blown up (or possibly because the city residents wisely abandoned the district when they noticed how often megazord battles took place there). Additionally, one warehouse was apparently still in use, as its smokestack was destroyed every week by the Dragonzord, yet it was remarkably good as new the next week - perhaps they really did have hero insurance?
    • Partial aversion in Power Rangers RPM. When Sociopathic Hero Creepy Twins Gem and Gemma bust down the door to a candystore to stop a petty criminal, they are forced later on to repair the door themselves. They are, however, still off the hook for any damage incurred fighting the minions of the Big Bad, however.
    • Averted regularly in Power Rangers S.P.D.:
      • The SWAT Megazord's finisher involved flying the criminals' giant robots into low orbit, then turning into a cannon and blowing them away. Presumably SPD doesn't want that kind of ordnance going off within city limits.
      • Also it has been shown that when the zords are on the move the Pink Ranger takes care of crowd control by directing traffic away from the combat zone.
      • And the premiere shows the B-Squad's status by showing them cleaning up the wreckage from the A-Squad's mecha battle. Presumably when A-Squad goes AWOL and B-Squad takes over Earth's defense, they have lower-ranked cadets cleaning up their messes.
    • The Pink Lightspeed Ranger did something similar to the Pink SPD Ranger, using her zord to clear the streets; only she evacuated cars directly... into her own zord...
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Lampshaded in the episode "Flooded". While assessing the damage after yet another fight with a demon has caused extensive damage to her house, Buffy asks: "I've trashed this house so many times. How did Mom pay for this?"
    • This later doubled as the reason that the furniture was apparently made of balsa wood. The good stuff was broken just as easily in fights, so she had replaced it as cheaply as possible.
    • Lampshaded earlier in "Ted" when the gang worries what punishment Buffy will receive for killing the eponymous character who turns out to be not dead, since he was a robot.
      Cordelia: I don't get it. Buffy's the Slayer, shouldn't she have—
      Xander: What, a license to kill?
      Cordelia: Well, not for fun, but she's like this Superman. Shouldn't there be different rules for her?
  • In Band of Brothers, during Operation Market Garden, Easy Company comes across a Dutch bell tower that the Germans are using to conceal their tanks from the advancing Allies. They ask a British tank commander to fire through the tower, which would destroy the building but also hit the German tank on the other side. The British commander refuses, citing that they are under orders to minimize collateral damage in friendly countries. This ends up costing the British tank crew their lives, as they are sitting ducks once they round the corner into German crosshairs.
  • House: Dr. House in Real Life would have his medical license stripped and face multiple malpractice suits, if not actually be in prison. Members of his staff and the hospital would also find themselves in trouble. The hospital actually earmarks a portion of the budget for House-related lawsuits (although, due to the Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving trope also being in effect, House is well within this budget).
  • Averted in the NCIS: Los Angeles episode "LD50", when the mall where the heroes stopped botulimin from being released billed the organization for the fish that died from their method of stopping the botulimin (holding the broken vial in the tank).
    Hetty: The Koi fish in that fountain went belly up from the botulimin. Oh dear, when one so rarely uses that phrase literally. Anyway, the mall has billed us $72,000.
    Kensi: For fish?
    Hetty: Yes.
    Kensi: (to Callen) Do you know what I could buy with that?
  • Doctor Who
    • The Doctor causes destruction and mayhem on a regular basis—on one occasion draining the River Thames—and he never sticks around to clear up the mess. It is kinda hard to charge him for damages considering he can simply escape by jumping around through time and space. Not to mention changing his appearance every now and then. Easily explains his mixed reputation among those people who know about him, though. This is why the original Torchwood had him listed as an enemy in their charter. They were founded when Queen Victoria saw him in action; she knighted him for his heroism then banished him for his crimes (and for being too damn cheerful about the deadly werewolf attack).
    • At the start of "Revolution of the Daleks", the Thirteenth Doctor is in prison for 7000 offenses committed during the course of his/her adventures. When Jack Harkness turns up to rescue her, he's amused they stopped at only seven thousand.
  • In Common Law, one of the leads foils a convenience store robbery... by driving his car through the front of the store. Doesn't seem cost effective.
  • The Finder: In the second episode, Walter shot a Dirty Cop so that, when the medics found the bullet, they'd also find the bullet that'd expose the Dirty Cop as a murderer. He explained that, if he went through bureaucratic methods to force the Dirty Cop to reveal the bullet, it wouldn't be found in time to clear the name of an innocent man framed for one of the murders before execution. That justification cleared him for shooting the Dirty Cop and stealing the gun from another nearby cop.
  • Elementary: Holmes and Watson break into multiple people's homes, hack or steal their phones, etc. to gain evidence. Not only are these felonies for which they could face time in prison, but since they consult with the police, all that evidence could be suppressed against defendants if this were revealed. However, aside from in one episode this never becomes a problem.
  • All of The Defenders (2017) shows from the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • The events of "The Incident" are addressed in the show. Wilson Fisk's rise as an organized crime boss is the result of exploiting government contracts for rebuilding efforts in Hell's Kitchen.
      • It's made clear at multiple points that Matt Murdock doesn't have hero insurance. In fact there are several points where he almost gets arrested when police roll up while he's in the middle of doing something as Daredevil. The only reason they don't haul him in is that he's able to talk them down into going after the more dangerous fish. And the friction between Foggy and Matt throughout the last few episodes of season 1 and most of season 2 is implied to be because he knows just what's at stake if Matt gets arrested or killed. Fisk even manages to exploit this in season 3 by having Dex impersonate Matt's alter ego.
      • Averted greatly for Frank Castle in season 2. He may be the Punisher who goes after crooks like the Mexican cartels, the Kitchen Irish and the Dogs of Hell, but he still gets arrested, charged with murder, and put through the process of a trial.
    • Ditto for Jessica Jones (2015).
      • In one episode, Jessica faces Audrey Eastman. She is a fashion designer who hates superhumans because her mother died during the Battle of New York. She holds the big green guy and the flag waver just as responsible for the destruction of New York as she does Loki or the Chitauri, and reasons that Jessica has to die before anyone else gets killed.
      • Also an aversion: Jessica gets arrested for killing Kilgrave. Though Jeri Hogarth is able to secure her release or at least get her bail posted.
    • Luke Cage (2016):
      • Luke Cage may have cleared his name of the crimes that put him in Seagate prison in the first place, but he is still a fugitive from the law for breaking out of there.
  • The whole premise of the DC Comics series Powerless (2017). The show examines how a normal person living in the DC Universe would react to all the chaos and collateral damage caused by superheroes and their villains.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the episode "For the Uniform", Ben Sisko orders the poisoning of the entire atmosphere of a Maquis planet in order to convince a treasonous former Federation officer to surrender. The series does not imply Sisko ever faces any consequences for essentially ordering the commission of a war crime by using a bio-weapon on a defenseless civilian target. Presumably the fact that the Maquis had already done the exact same thing to a Cardassian world, and that by retaliating in kind he forced them to give up their bioweapons program and prevented the Cardassians from escalating to all-out war, helped his case with the brass.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Mind Stealers from Outer Space", the aforementioned mind stealers use their beam weapons to level a building with Wonder Woman and Andros inside. It's never addressed who picked up the tab for the demolished building.
  • The Boys (2019):
    • Superheroes have quasi-immunity like cops while on the job. They can still be sued or charged for acting outside that. A-Train kills Robin by running into her while she's just barely in the street (one foot off the curb, as Hughie says). Later he lies and claims she was in the middle of the street while he was speeding past pursuing bank robbers. He can't be prosecuted so long as it was part of his crime-fighting, and this is explicitly said to be like the quasi-immunity law enforcement officers have while performing their duties, so the idea appears to have been codified by law in the show's universe. It's said he could still be sued, but Hughie's father says it would be too hard to prove wrongdoing. Butcher points out people simply want to believe that Supes are the good guys and thus ignore the collateral damage and all the problems of their vigilantism, though superheroes are shown carefully covering up actual blatant crimes they commit.
    • When you are also backed by a multi-billion corporation and its marketing and legal departments, it is very easy to make people remain silent with their complaints or by outright forcing them to never mention anything by signing an agreement outside of court. Those few that insist on still making a fuss over the damage, destruction, or manslaughter get simply buried under litigation Vought can easily afford for years. Butcher does a small bit of investigating of concurrent crimes at the time of Robin's death proves internally it was false (and help recruit Hughie to his mission) but the uphill legal battle would still be brutal, thus much of the first season revolves around getting proof that A-Train is actually an addict and under the influence of Compound V at the time of Robin's death.
    • In the past, Butcher and his team were semi-sponsored by the CIA, but after several bad incidents (an attempt at blackmailing Lamplighter to give them a link inside the Seven led to him killing Mallory's grandchildren) they were forced to be more of a freelance team and have a difficult time keeping together at the start of the series. Butcher still has numerous contacts because of that past association, though many bridges were also burned. The Boys do end up guilty of or accomplices in numerous murders, robberies, blackmail and trespassing, which forces them to go deep underground once Vought becomes more aware of their existence. They do rebuild their relationships as they uncover legitimate evidence, leading to all charges against them being dropped at the end of the second season, with talk of them heading an official counter-supe team for the CIA.
  • Tremors: It's mentioned that, along with weapons and equipment, the U.S. government provides liability insurance to Burt Gummer when he has to hunt Graboids. Graboids tend to be destructive. Burt's methods for killing them tend to be...more destructive.
  • A more mundane example comes up in the pilot episode of Hill Street Blues, when a stick-up turned hostage situation ends with the SWAT Team storming the building and... shooting out the windows and a bunch of merchandise, after Captain Furillo had already talked the robbers down. The proprietor is none too happy, and it's likely that the cost of repairs and lost stock is quite a bit more than he had in the register in the first place. SWAT Team leader Lieutenant Hunter's "destroy the precinct to save the precinct" tendencies would be a recurring source of headaches for his chief for most of the rest of the series.
  • This trope becomes a plot point on Lockwood & Co. (2023), since the various agencies do have insurance to cover damages incurred while fighting ghosts, but they need to follow proper procedure in order to be covered. Lockwood and Co.'s policy becomes voided when a house burns down in the first episode from them using a flare indoors, leaving them in the hole for £60,000.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Walker and company never seemed to care about the damage they caused with all the fights they get into, though, in Season 9's "Desperate Measures", Gage did compensate a restaurant owner at least once after he roughed up two thugs who were harassing two women, who, little did he know at the time, happened to be prison escapees (one was innocent of a crime she didn't commit, while the other is serving life for killing three men), and those thugs in particular would get away scot-free for the harassing and cutting the drive belt of his motorcycle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Player characters in virtually all tabletop RPGs owe most of their ability to get away with literal murder and other less-than-virtuous activities (except where the GM thinks it would be entertaining) to this trope in the name of escapism and saving valuable playtime. It's all just imaginary damage anyway, so if the group doesn't feel like dealing with it there's no actual harm (save possibly to the players' Willing Suspension of Disbelief) in simply ignoring it and moving on. Handwaves optional.
  • The Mutants & Masterminds setting Freedom City has something of an explanation — Freedom City has its own guardian spirit, Doc Metropolis. In addition to serving on the local hero team, he also uses his powers over the city to fix whatever damage is wrought by superpowered battles.
  • GURPS Powers has a table for you to roll on to decide how many dollars of collateral damage were dealt during a fight. It's up to the GM who exactly has to pay for it.
  • Exalted: During the First Age, the Solars' Hero Insurance is backed by the authority of Sol Himself and the rest of the Heavens. Whole Cardinal Direction obliterated in your fight? Doesn't matter, things can be rebuilt and the Sidereals make sure that the collateral victims reincarnate into a favorable life. Like everything else heroic, this is ultimately deconstructed — the Solars eventually don't even see mortals as real people.
  • Masks: A New Generation: Halcyon City, the setting for the game, not only has a significant super-powered population but is also such a Weirdness Magnet that the city has super-fast construction crews on standby to repair any damage that the villains or monsters of the week may cause.
  • This trope is actually a core aspect in Shadowrun. As a Shadowrunner you are literally a mercenary criminal, but once you get away with the goods and get paid the target of your activities will USUALLY not bother with something so petty as revenge, because A: you might do a job for them sometime, because everyone needs "deniable assets" at some point; and B: it's not cost effective to waste resources on hunting you down that could be better utilized in shoring up against the next attack. However, if you get a little too liberal with the application of automatic fire and high explosives, then it's going to cost you - one way or another.

    Theme Parks 
  • Averted in Shrek 4D at Universal Studios, as when Shrek accidentally destroys The Gingerbread Man's house, he tells him, "I hope you're insured!"

    Video Games 
  • City of Heroes:
    • Subverted with the Faultline zone, the victim of a massive earthquake attack by a tectonics-controlling villain, which for years remained as a giant deserted fissure in the ground. Faultline only started being slowly rebuilt a year or two ago.
    • There are billboards in the city advertising insurance for damages caused by hero/villain struggles, but there are a lot of hazard zones which are just decimated sections of town still, so...
    • Being a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game and all, anything you break is back to normal as soon as you zone out.
    • However, in one of the game's cinematic trailers (one where the Rikti invade), you briefly see the heroes helping to clear the wreckage left by the invasion.
  • Deconstructed in the Shoot 'Em Up A.S.P. Air Strike Patrol. If you think you can be like Team America: World Police and blow up everything in your way, enemy or civilian, you're going to be proven wrong very quickly. International news will cover your "exploits," anti-war demonstrations will protest your actions, and you'll get a Nonstandard Game Over as the Coalition pulls out.
  • Desert Strike and the rest of the Strike series penalizes you for killing civilians and destroying their buildings, usually by deducting points from your score at the end of the mission. At worst, you'll be ordered to return to the frigate, berated for your actions, and forced to do the mission all over again (this also happens on other conditions).
  • The Just Cause franchise, especially the third installment, which is set in Rico Rodriguez's home country of Medici. Rico can commit vandalism, murder, assault, vehicular manslaughter, theft, etc. and civilians will not say "boo" about it. He is already a national hero and can get away with anything.
  • Quite a number of stages in the Aero Fighters series allow the player to destroy civilian buildings and vehicles, up to and including Monumental Damage—and very often, the player is rewarded for this. (This is, of course, exempting those buildings and monuments that turn into missiles or enemies.)
  • ESP Ra.De.:
    • The game, on multiple occasions, makes civilian buildings and vehicles in Tokyo-2 fair game—such as parts of Houoh High School, and the cars on the street just before fighting the "Izuna" Assault Tank in the shopping mall stage. There's no penalty, in-game or story-wise, for doing so.
    • Averted with J-B 5th though, as his backstory says it's not only the Yaksa after him, but the Japanese Self-Defense Force as well.
  • XCOM Apocalypse:
    • You have the option of paying for any collateral damage you do while cleaning buildings from aliens. If you don't, the owners may attack you the next time you have to go in.
    • And there are also relationship hits from damaging buildings from the outside, which may require financial compensation for staying friends with the specified organization. It seems X-COM doesn't pay for repairing its own buildings on the outside (although this might be justified, since the expensive stuff is underground, the above ground stuff is just a damage buffer). However, all the organizations have their own fund sources and reserves and it is very much possible to drain those, thus depleting their ability to replenish their weaponry etc. - which basically means that subsequent raids are worth less if you also do damage to the buildings. Raiding for experience and items seems to be fine, although it also decreases the finances of the organization.
    • In the original X-COM, you can, thanks to the miracle of modern agricultural insurance, burn an entire farm to ashes with no repercussions, although you are a UN task force and it's not like anyone in the area is still alive to sue. For that matter, burning down a section of a major city has no consequences beyond a minor point loss for civilians killed or troopers caught in gas station explosions.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown is even worse - since enemies can infest civilians with their spawn, and disguise themselves as civies in the sequel, you are obligated to murder any non-essential civilians with grenades, flamethrowers, or outright zombify them with a mind-controlled floating eldritch psychic horror, just to make sure the aliens don't use them as a tactical advantage first. And there's more destruction of property in the average campaign than a hurricane.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Played with, in which Shepard is a Spectre and has broad operational authority to do whatever the heck he/she feels like but still gets chewed out by his/her superiors for any collateral damage.
    • Sparatus, the Turian Councillor, particularly isn't amused when Shepard detonates a nuke to destroy Saren's cloning facility on Virmire. Although technically, the nuke idea came from the Salarian Special Tasks Group and Shepard just helped them infiltrate the facility to deliver the payload.
    • At the end of the last piece of DLC for Mass Effect 2, s/he (both Paragon and Renegade) was forced to destroy a mass relay to slow down the Reaper invasion. It went supernova, wiping out an entire solar system and killing 300,000 batarians. Admiral Hackett notes that while he knows s/he did it for the right reasons and will try to slow down the fallout, s/he will have to face trial for mass murder and terrorism, and it's doubtful that the Council (who don't believe him/her about the Reapers) or Udina (who hates Shepard) are going to give him/her any protection. There are limits even for Spectres. It all becomes moot before the third game begins, since the Reaper invasion took out the entire Batarian civilization in the first hours. Although Shepard is in custody awaiting trial as the game begins.
  • Subverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All. After Phoenix breaks down the door to the summoning room in the Fey Manor, he later gets a bill for the door, despite breaking it to protect Maya and find out about the gunshot heard in the room. Of course, the owner of the door was an accomplice of the murder that was happening, and by entering, Phoenix was interfering with the plans. Plus, if you read some of the tapestries in the school, as well as in the exhibit in the third game, they all discuss methods of making money. The Kurain school of mysticism would gouge anyone for a nickel. (Appropriately, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice shows that the country where it originated is also extremely litigious.)
  • In the vehicle driving sections of L.A. Noire, Cole can cause massive damage to innocent motorist cars and even hit pedestrians without severe in-game consequences. This will lower your final score, but will not prevent you from completing the mission, nor will it get you fired or put on trial for vehicular homicide.
  • Also subverted in the original The Legend of Zelda, where if you burn down/destroy certain doors, the owners of said doors make you pay them for the damage. This also happens in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games sub-series. In at least one instance, burning through a door has the inhabitant of the house pay you.
  • Many light-gun games even encourage you to shoot up the scenery of the location you're trying to save, with rewards including bonus points, powerups, and secret rooms. Apparently glass windows are #3 on the Most Wanted list.
  • Lan/Netto commits so many felonies during the course of the Mega Man Battle Network series that the Let's Play of it actually harps on the fact. It's actually less egregious than other examples because he very rarely breaks physical stuff - Lan mostly sneaks somewhere he is not allowed to be in pursuit of of the current villain. And because he manages to save the day, officials can let it slide. The sequel series Mega Man Star Force lampshades hero insurance in the 2nd game; Omega-Xis mentions being considered a hero is something to be proud of, and that because of it, people won't mind if they cause damage.
  • In Superman Returns, as Superman is invincible, the life bar is that of collateral damage done to Metropolis.
  • While the first Red Faction was notable for allowing the player to break stuff up to and including the level geometry itself, the sequel looks to be taking this to ludicrous extremes. Not only does the ultramodern architecture give way like wet tissue paper, the protagonist effectively levels an entire city to protect the citizens of said city.
  • In the 2009 Ghostbusters game, it's revealed early on that the Ghostbusters no longer work for the people of New York, but for the city of New York, with a contract to take care of any and all paranormal disturbances. In addition, the city has a lucrative insurance contract for damage due to either paranormal entities or paranormal "investigations". In fact, the mayor got the insurance policy after the Ghostbusters endorsed him in the election campaign, and it's outright stated by Ray that it probably won the election for the mayor. In addition, there's an oversight committee, headed by the ever-lovable Walter Peck, called the Paranormal Contract Oversight Committee. And the icing on the cake: the game TRACKS how much property damage the Ghostbusters incur. And there are achievements for beating the game while causing very little property damage and beating the game and causing a lot.
  • Subverted in Super Paper Mario, where Mario breaks Mimi's vase and is forced to work off the debt for the rest of the chapter - of course, since Mimi is working for the Big Bad, it's all just a scheme.
  • Lampshaded in SpyHunter (2001): in the first half of the game, you fail a mission objective if you cause too many civilian casualties (about 4), but they don't prevent you from moving on to the next mission. In the second half of the game, it's explained the agency's insurance provider has altered their policy, and ANY civilian casualties are no longer acceptable (although if you complete enough of the other objectives, you can usually advance).
  • Subverted in the Excuse Plot for Stair Dismount a.k.a Porrasturvat: The main character is a superhero who has just wrecked the city in a big fight, and has to pay for the damages by commiting insurance fraud. How, you may ask? By pushing himself down a flight of stairs.
  • Lampshaded in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. A collectible allows the player to hear a commercial for an insurance company that specializes in superhuman related damages.
  • Averted in Fallout 3; The Mechanistnote  and The AntAgonist note  duke it out in Canturbury Commons. During the post apocalypse. There is no insurance of any kind, and the residents wish that BOTH of them would just go away before they kill someone with their property-damaging wars. Except for the town's only child (who accidentally caused this in the first place). He thinks they're awesome and actually has suggestions on how you could join them as a third superperson, complete with your own army.
  • In Freedom Force, collateral damage incurs a prestige loss. Prestige is used to recruit new superheroes to your team and keep score, and therefore smashing up things too much and letting civilians get KOed will reduce your hiring rate and your high score. There are no other penalties.
  • Even though what they do is to take back their cities from bad guys, player tank in Seek And Destroy never needs to pay for whatever damage he cause to those cities, and they are miraculously restored right after the hero troop conquer them.
  • Lampshaded in A Day in the Life of a Super Hero, where the main character assures an irate truck driver that his Super Hero Insurance "will definitely cover stuffed toy elephants crushed beneath [him] by being hurled from a bridge."
  • Demonbane: entire city blocks are wiped out in every single battle, yet life in Arkham City continues as though nothing is wrong, and only cursory attention is paid to the damages and loss of life. The fact that the hero is working for the Hadou Group, which effectively owns the city and is rich enough to do whatever they want, explains why they are never held accountable, though it is mentioned several times that the people of the city are uncertain as to whether Demonbane is truly a "hero of justice" or just another rampaging threat. Finally subverted after Cthulhu's summoning, which results in Arkham City getting wiped off the face of the Earth, though most of the population survives via underground shelters.
  • At the end of Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, Captain Roger Wilco triumphantly returns to StarCon after saving the galaxy from yet another threat. Space Quest VI begins with a court-martial, where his violations of regs are brought up and used to strip him of his rank. His accomplishments are brought up as an afterthought, which lets him stay in Starcon as a janitor. The fluff implies that the mother of Captain Raemes T. Quirk, whom Roger is forced to kill to end the threat, pushes for Roger to be found guilty.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: The Inquisition functions as such for the player. If anything, a lot of tasks done by the Inquisition are about enforcing this trope since Thedas is still dealing with the aftermath of the Templar-Mage War. The general MO is for the player and team to go in, deal with/fix the problem and then use the Inquisition's resources to further fix any underlying problems. The people end up very happy seeing Inquisition forces show up and give them a lot of leeway Since they'll clean up any mess they make.
  • Wanted: Dead: Since Zombie Unit is basically Law Enforcement, Inc. for Dauer Synthetics, they also have their own dedicated insurance agent in Madame Wong, who's not pleased that their Destructive Savior behavior is costing millions to the company.

  • Discussed in this comic from Boulet Corp.
    Alt Text: "If superpowers were real, you would probably be some dumbass watching them do the amazing stuff, waiting to be killed by some supervillain, or even worse: you'd be a collateral damage in their fights and noone would notice you."
  • Mentioned in League of Super Redundant Heroes, Laser Pony apparently has insurance which covers damage to blimps. Just as well, considering he has shot down two of them so far.
  • Referred to in The Hero Business, where the eponymous marketing agency appears, at least, to have a tab with the municipality.
  • The fact that heroes seem to get away with massive property damage gets thoroughly skewered, among other things, in this Shortpacked! strip.
  • Parodied in Evil, Inc.. One of the services the titular company provides is "Battlefield Location and Booking" which seeks out abandoned locations for villains and heroes to battle to avoid lawsuits from any property damage and casualties. This could also be considered an inversion since, as the name of the company indicates, it's the supervillains who are in charge of this service. If there's one thing supervillains probably will hate more than superheroes, it's lawyers.
  • In MegaTokyo the TPCD takes the part of clean-up and repair after the many scheduled and unscheduled disastrous events in Tokyo. They even take requests from affected house-owners for changes on rebuild.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has an unorthodox approach to hero insurance. Because the populace acknowledges that McNinja's vigilantism is actually beneficial to the community despite the crimes he commits in the process, he and the police have worked out an agreement: After committing a crime, Dr. McNinja needs only to return to his office and call "base" in order to have his crimes absolved.
  • Exiern: has some very literal hero insurance here and here, overlapping with Impossible Insurance too.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, part of the Running Gag about Bob's roof repeatedly getting destroyed is that each story arc ends with the roof either getting repaired, or Bob receiving just enough money to repair it.
  • City of Reality has Hero Insurance, literally, as part of the deal that makes the inhabitants happy to have super heroes around. More than happy, in fact.
  • In Sluggy Freelance the GOFOTRON crew doesn't seem to get in any trouble when they slice a giant broccoli monster into pieces, and one of said pieces crushes all the Innocent Bystanders.
  • In Spinnerette Benjamin Franklin mentions that the super hero organization he founded handles damage compensation, legal help, medical help, etc through a combination of money from bank interest from the 1700's to merchandizing super hero memorabilia.
  • Super Temps has literal Hero Insurance — the Supers Union actually pays a large chunk of their various merchandising and media profits to the government to pay for collateral damage. Since super-antics actually drive the economy in a cycle of media sales, merchandising, and job creation to handle the damage... this makes perfect sense in a Fridge Logic kind of way.
  • Exaggerated with Atomica in one Fafnir The Dragon story. A superhero in a Stripperiffic costume who, apart from the Most Common Superpower, is Immune to Bullets (which causes bullets the robbers shoot at her to ricochet into every nearby hostage), Super-Strength (which allows her to use a bank vault door as a shield to protect hostages from gunfire... only to drop it on top of them when she goes of to pursue one of the robber), the ability to melt guns (which sets the robbers on fire) and the ability to gently knock out a robber with a thrown object (at the edge of the curb, where his head gets crushed by the police car). Her being The Ditz, she never actually notices and thinks she's a Golden Age Superhero and the Strawman News Media praises her all the way.
  • Darths & Droids brings this a couple of times, most notably in this strip where the entire party gets chewed out for how much collateral damage their latest adventure caused.
  • Grrl Power: Since the superheroes are a hybrid of military and police officers, most of the damage they do is covered under insurance. But they're still warned that it's best not to cause those damages in the first place; slamming someone into the ground (which is probably owned by the city) is far cheaper and less likely to make people mad than to throw a privately-owned car as a weapon. Maxima's first bit of advice to Sydney is to always check behind your target before unleashing your power.
    Maxima: Comics would end very differently if the refrigerator logic brigade got to draw the last page.
  • Amanda Green, Superhuman Insurance Agent is pretty much this trope in the form of a webcomic. Amanda is not a superhuman insurance agent, she's an agent who sells superhuman insurance: e.g. insurance against any superhuman-related losses caused by super heroes and supervillains alike.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: Averted. This doesn't exist, hence why Dune is very fussy about the heroes not committing vandalism and destruction. When a (unspecified) character apparently destroys a bus and Dune is on Spoon's case for it, Dana decides to dock the pay of whoever wrecked it as compensation.
  • Twisted Tropes: Tony Stark complains to Black Widow and Vision that they are required to have an insurance, but nobody is will to invest, except GEICO Gecko in turtle suit.

    Web Original 
  • Captain Hammer, of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog practically defines the trope. In his introduction alone, we see him jump onto a remote-controlled van, break its autopilot, jump off to flirt with a beautiful bystander, and all but abandon the vehicle to terrorize the streets. He also completely fails to prevent the theft of the goods inside the van, due to flirting with a yet another woman. Hence the only thing he actually accomplishes is needlessly endangering bystanders. And everyone loves him for it anyway due to his manly charisma. Did we mention that Dr. Horrible is a deconstruction of super heroes vs. supervillains?
  • Averted in the Whateley Universe. An early story features an English class which specifically mentions that insurance and damage laws have evolved to address superhero-supervillain battles. Also, one of the major purposes of the school is to teach enough self-control that the kids are not destroying everything in sight while fighting the villain. And finally, in a novel set over Thanksgiving of first term, the kids find out that a brutal battle years ago in New York City has led to the point that everyone at school has to have a Mutant Identification card filled out in a meeting with the Mutant Commission Office, or they can't return to the school.
  • Subverted in a early arc of How to Succeed in Evil. It is openly stated that Superhero Insurance doesn't exist because it would be too damn expensive. Doesn't stop Edwin from selling (and by selling we mean threatening into submission) it anyways.
  • Subverted in Trinton Chronicles, the city isn't really too fond of the vigilantes (heroes) fighting each other in the city with out rules..after all, it's a whole world full of super-powered people... even they have rules against over-use!
  • Played straight in Skyway Mechanix where the state super-hero tells a police officer to send a bill to the "World Hero Alliance - Hero Insurance Department" after the chaotic neutral protagonists destroy a motel and blow up a gas station.
  • Discussed in Worm after the bank robbery arc. When the Undersiders villain team robs the bank, Kid Win, part of the Wards hero team sent to stop them, pulls out an energy cannon that inflicted serious property damage - damage that inflicted costs that actually exceeded the amount of money that the Undersiders stole, and not counting other damages from the fighting. He is given a severe talking down by Director Piggot as a result of his misuse of the weapon and the costs of the damage he inflicted. However, issues of property damage are only brought up for "minor" villain confrontations. When Class S threats like the Endbringers or the Slaughterhouse Nine show up, all issues regarding property damage go right out the window and everything gets thrown at the threat until it is destroyed or driven off.
    • It's further touched on in reconstruction form later in Worm and the sequel Ward: Hero Insurance is literal for most high-profile teamsnote , and commercial and property insurance policies typically have some level of "Villain Insurance"-type coverage for when the mad tinker tests their new resonance canon on your storage shed. Mentions are made of collateral-damage-prone heroes having financial problems due to astronomical insurance rates, so most heroes quickly learn to use their powers in ways that minimize collateral damage. Major organizations like the PRC also typically have some sort of legal counsel dedicated to quietly settling lawsuits from people Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like and determining how much of the damage to the antiques store the heroes are actually liable for.

    Real Life 
  • Good Samaritan laws protect people who attempt to give reasonable aid to others. The laws vary by region and jurisdiction, providing more or less protection based on the version of the law.
  • Collateral damage and friendly fire during wartime is often a problem. In spite of improving technology, war inevitably results in civilian casualties, including civilians that one side is trying to protect from the other.
  • During the Cold War, US military in Germany had personnel specifically tasked with paying civilians for damages it caused during maneuvers off bases who usually accompanied the troops.
  • The United States during The War on Terror has entire offices set up in Iraq and Afghanistan solely to compensate people for the loss of limbs, property, or loved ones.
  • Retired lawyer Bob Ingersoll, who reviews comics for legal accuracy with his "Law Is A Ass" column, has stated that in many cases superheroes would legally be covered by the "emergency doctrine", and thus couldn't get prosecuted or sued when they cause property damages when trying to save lives. This has limits though, since it wouldn't cover extreme negligent or reckless damage.


Video Example(s):


James Bond Gets Insurance

Q is about to issue Bond his new car under the cover of a rental agency employee. He issues him a wide range of insurance waivers for things like collisions, fire, and property distruction.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / HeroInsurance

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