Introducing Zombie Insurance

Introducing Zombie Insurance

Scurvy might get you, but the living dead never will.

F**k zombies! I'm on a BOAT, motherf**ker!

F*** zombies! I'm on a BOAT, motherf**ker!

Take a look at this. In 2008, a 640-foot cruise ship was on sale for $31 million dollars. Seems like a lot of money. But the ship is designed to carry 1,279 passengers. Let’s say I played it conservative and found an even 1,000 people who were keen on surviving the zombie apocalypse. If they each paid $400 a month in “zombie insurance,” we could pay for the entire boat in only 75 months, or 6.25 years. But it gets better.

We would probably pay for this ship via a 20-year loan. That means instead of using every dollar to pay for the boat in 6.25 years, we could put only a third of the money towards the loan, leaving two thirds of the money ($266,000 a month) for modifications. What kind of modifications? Basically, we want to make this boat capable of supporting life without docking, indefinitely. We’ll pack it full of freeze-dried survival rations, vitamins, and seeds. We’ll set up every balcony and window with tiny gardens, growing fresh vegetables and grains. I suspect that a Nimitz-style nuclear reactor is going to be more than we can afford, but a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, and underwater generators that harvest the ocean current for energy should be enough to produce fresh water for a thousand people. I would hope it could also power stoves, ice-makers, and water heaters. My goal here is not just to survive the zombie apocalypse, but to do it in style. I want my hot tub.

Bring it on, Dennis Hopper. We're ready for you.

We’d also need to arm the boat to the teeth, so that we’d be ready for the pirates. In fact, part of my zombie insurance plan might include bi-annual retreats, where our thousand potential passengers would learn combat training, basic first aid, and fishing (lots of fishing). We’d also just bond – after all, if we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together on a 640-foot boat, we might as well get a head start on hooking up.

Of course, we’ll want to keep the boat’s exact location quiet. Only insurance policy holders will know, and it’s possible we’ll want to move the thing every few years for safety. Finding the right port will be tricky. You want it someplace that’s easily accessible, but remote enough so that it won’t be completely overrun in the first wave of the infection. Delaware might be a good choice.

Anyway, my plan might involve having the boat stocked and ready in the most basic way within five years. After that, the money goes towards constant upgrades. We will probably want to hide massive tanks of gasoline at various uninhabited islands around the world, so we’ll have a source of fuel far away from the population centers. Maybe we can replace the casino with a pen for chickens, to get fresh eggs and a little bit of meat. We can buy missiles on the black market, so that pirates learn that it’s suicide to come within a mile of our ship. And what about new treadmills for the gym?

Yes, John Cussack will be invited. But on everyone's birthday, he has to stand outside their stateroom and hold up a boombox playing Peter Gabriel. The first time he complains, he's overboard.

Of course, this plan has a problem – the same problem I have now. Once the zombie apocalypse hits, actually making it to the cruise ship may be next to impossible. Anybody else see 2012? To get to his ark and escape the apocalypse (water-based, not zombie-based) John Cussack is in no less than three situations where his plane just barely takes off as the runway falls into a bottomless abyss.

The folks who are particularly worried about zombies may want to live right next to where the boat is docked. The rest of us are just going to have to take our chances. Honestly, I think the ship’s designers could safely assume that of the 1,000 paying passengers, only about 500 will actually make it to the boat alive. Actually, you could probably have 2,000 paying passengers, and only assume that 500 of them will be able to make it to the boat alive. Or, if you really need the money to get this project off the ground, sell the insurance to 5,000 people, and explain that when zombies attack, ONLY the first 500 who arrive at the boat will get to escape. The rest are out of luck.

It should go without saying that everyone who gets on the boat receives a thorough inspection, to guarantee that no one is harboring the infection. Even better: every single person on the boat is locked in their staterooms for the first 72 hours, with food and water. We only let people out after we’re 100% sure they are not turning into zombies. (You doom-and-gloomers might wonder what will happen if the handful of people who are supposed to unlock everyone succumb to the zombie virus themselves, leaving hundreds of people chained in their rooms. Or what happens if pirates strike fast and hard while everyone is quarantined. But you know what? Stop being so pessimistic. We can SOLVE these problems. We can DO this.)

If it can't keep out the Orcs, it can't keep out the living dead.

Some of you might argue that for $30 million, we’d be better off building a land-based survivalist compound, probably high in the mountains where zombies are unlikely to climb to. It’s true that your money will buy you a lot more space, supplies, and comfort if you don’t have to plan for life at sea. But I highly prefer the boat – being able to TRAVEL is simply invaluable in an unpredictable situation. Consider:

  1. Once word of your zombie-proof compound gets out (and SOMEBODY’S going to blab) you will be swarmed with hundreds (maybe thousands) of desperate survivors, who will stop at nothing to take your precious resources. If the zombies don’t get you, the people will. On the other hand, if the boat is attacked by pirates, you just fight them off and flee in the other direction. Everyone might know you’re out there, but they’ll never find you in the same place twice.
  2. What if after a year, radio transmissions reveal that while North America is completely overrun, New Zealand has completely eliminated its zombies and fortified the coastline? If you’re stuck in a bunker in Montana, you’ll never be able to connect with this pocket of civilization. But if you’re on the zombie-proof cruise ship, you can just set a course for the safe zone. The boat gives you the mobility to find a new home, while staying safe and sound in the meantime.
  3. If you’re in the mountains, you’re probably going to have to contend with freezing temperatures and brutal snowfall. But on the boat, you don’t have to worry about harsh weather. We’ll always stay where conditions are mild. And in the not unlikely event of a nuclear explosion, we can avoid the worst of the fallout.

I’m not saying the zombie-proof cruise ship will be “safe.” In a situation where 99% of the world’s population has been transformed into bloodthirsty monsters, “safe” is kind of off the table. But this solution will leave us virtually untouchable by zombies, armed to fight off any pirates, and free to travel the world in search of safety. And I promise, no matter how bad things get, I WILL keep the hot tubs working.


Any takers?

19 Comments on “Introducing Zombie Insurance”

  1. Dan #

    I just wish to point out that googling for “amortization” and “zombies” produces nothing the least bit interesting.


  2. Adam #

    The only problem with a boat is that you really have nowhere to go if there is an outbreak on board. Sure, you can have lifeboats, but unless there is someone out there to do a search and rescue, you’ll just float around until you die of exposure.


  3. Wills #

    Not going to lie, i would be all over this if i could afford it. Blast poor student life. That and i would have a very hard time convincing the others to put the ship anywhere that I can get to it. I’ve got the remote location down pat but the whole US centric idea is kinda debacling me.

    It would make the most sense for the first person to make it to the boat, preferably a volunteer to live less then a kilometer away, to take it out immediately and have the rest of us take smaller boats out to meet it. The chances of pirates organizing before were at a capacity to defend ourselves is slim and really this is an east coast plan so the chance of getting a boat is pretty good.


  4. adam #

    Also, in Knights of the Dinner Table, the local game shop had posters for a new RPG game featuring a zombie outbreak on a cruise ship.

    Its a great place, right up until the first person gets infected.


  5. lee OTI Staff #

    OK. So assume 500 people get on the boat alive (I assume we’re saving a spot for T-Pain even if he doesn’t buy in…how could we not?), we set sail, we successfuly screen out any infected from boarding, we successfully fend off pirates, and we have enough supplies to sustain ourselves for 20 years.

    20 years pass. NOW what do we do? Obviuosly, the insurance doesn’t guarantee anything past that, so it’s less of a problem with the business model and more of a problem of…the long term survival of the human species.

    At this point, it seems like there are a three possible scenarios:

    1) All of humanity has been taken by the zombie plague. There’s literally no one left outside of the survivors on the boat. Shore reconnaisance reveals that the infection isn’t dying down–even after 20 years, the zombies show no sign of “dying,” as it were. Do you try to land on some deserted island and try to live off the land? Or do you just give up and committ mass suicide?

    2) Same scenario above, but the plague shows signs of tapering off. Do you risk going back to the mainland, cleaning up the mess, and rebuilding?

    3) Humanity successfuly fights back and contains the plague, a la World War Z. All of the cruise ship survivors were away for all of the action. If you come back ashore, everyone is PISSED at you for running away and hiding at humanity’s darkest hour. Do you say “screw you guys” and try to get on with your life?


  6. Megan from Lombard #

    @Adam: assuming that just one person gets infected, you could just throw them over the rail and quarintine everyone it came into contact with to make sure that they didn’t get infected and if they are, ditch them over the rail as well. The same could be said for more but (worse-case) if it’s half of the people on board then I agree with you; you’re pretty much screwed.

    And I would so buy in if I could swing the funds, curse the life of a college student.


  7. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Lee – You know, I actually started to consider the long-term scenarios, but I decided that such an analysis really deserved its own post. Forget the boat for a second. I can’t really think of a single zombie movie that shows what the long-term zombie future is. I guess in the 28 Days Later world, the zombies are really just infected humans, so they starve in a matter of weeks. Piece of cake. More traditional zombie films show the undead as nearly immortal, still wandering around aimlessly months or years after infection. To address your scenarios…

    1. Let’s say the zombies can go on forever. First of all, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t live on a boat indefinitely. They did it in Waterworld, right? Maybe you get a barge, and use it to plant fields of crops floating in the ocean. If you start needing supplies from the mainland, you find a place that looks relatively zombie free and send a raiding party to land in a lifeboat (always quarantining them afterwards). And yes, I like the idea of landing on a deserted island. You’d have to live in treehouses, of course. But personally, I don’t think it’s likely that zombies will come strolling out of the ocean. Have you SEEN the bottom of the ocean? It’s full of muck, deep hole, twisted coral, etc. The idea that a zombie is going to walk hundreds of miles across the bottom of the ocean without getting stuck somewhere seems far-fetched.

    2. I like the island plan here. Find a place that ALMOST free of zombies, build a bunch of treehouses and walls, and take lots and lots of precautions. Honestly, those conditions aren’t much more dangerous than most of human history has been.

    3. Okay, let’s say that President Obama, or whoever the hell is in charge, is on every radio frequency, trying to organize a counter attack at a specific location. Anyone on the zombie boat who wants to go and fight is welcome – take a lifeboat and go. The cruise ship is not a prison.

    Personally, I’d listen to the radio broadcasts, and see if the counter-attack seemed to be working. If the army is successful at pushing the zombies back hundreds of miles, then yeah, maybe I do go and volunteer. I’m probably pretty pissed at the zombies for, you know, killing everyone I’ve ever known and loved.

    And sure, when the zombie war is over, there might be a stigma against those who sat it out completely, the same way that a young American man in the 1940’s might be ashamed he didn’t join the army. But they certainly won’t be alone. the majority of the human race is probably going to be bunkered down, not actively looking for zombies to fight.

    And Lee, you’re forgetting about all the old people and the children. No matter what, we need the zombie cruise ship for them. Maybe when a child of the HMS Romeo turns 18, they have the choice of going off to fight, or staying aboard and caring for the young.


  8. Lara #

    “I’m probably pretty pissed at the zombies for, you know, killing everyone I’ve ever known and loved.”

    I love how this plan of yours is based on a cruise ship holiday with a bunch of strangers, rather than, say, a plan to get everyone you’ve ever known and loved to safety. I know I’d just love to spend 20 years on a boat with the kind of people who are paranoid enough to take out zombie insurance!

    I’m assuming we Aussies will have to get our own boat… we’ll surround it with “guard crocs”, trained to attack zombies…


  9. Ryan #

    WOW. For someone so in love with pop culture, it appears you haven’t read “World War Z” by Max Brooks, same dude who wrote the Zombie Survival Guide. Now, because its an “oral history” the narration jumps around the world, but there is a decent amount of story, or a least one that sticks out in my mind, about people living on boats off different shores or in the middle of the ocean in pseudo-communities.


  10. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Ryan – Dude, I ADORE World War Z. I not only read it once by myself, my girlfriend and I literally took turns reading chapters to each other. It was probably the most romantic thing I’ve ever done. And I actually consulted the Zombie Survival Guide while writing this. Brooks is very down on boats, basically because it’s so difficult to survive indefinitely on the open seas. He tells some great yarns about people starving in massive numbers, or boats being overun by zombies and then drifting into other boats. But I think my plan could overcome his objections. I’m not suggesting a bunch of people pile into an old freighter and cast off. That would be crazy. I’m suggesting we spend years and tens of millions of dollars creating something that is equipped for the task at hand. Without that preparation, Brooks is right: the sea is a harsh mistress indeed.

    Incidentally, I hear the World War Z movie is still slowly chugging forward. Fingers crossed!


  11. Ret #

    WWZ is a great read, and i’m glad that someone has put this much thought into this as i have. the Ocean is a perfect escape route, assuming that floating Zombies dont kill off all the sea life, then the idea of doing a lot of fishing is kind of (pardon the pun) dead in the water.


  12. Marinus #

    I want to add the suggestion that who-ever organizes this insurance plan figure out at what number of policy subscribers/payers a second, third, fourth, (and so on) boat can be prepared. Because the more people and boats you have the better your tactical advantage against pirates and the Hoard. Not to mention that the larger the society the more stable it will be if some form of democracy or republic is established.


  13. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Marinus – Ah, interesting! A network of boats! I’m assuming you suggest they stick together, in general. Pool resources, watch each other’s backs. When things got bad, however, wouldn’t there be a tremendous urge to screw the other boat? I mean, if THEY’RE getting attacked by pirates, and YOU’RE not, and your children are onboard, do you really want to steer your boat right into the fray?

    Here’s something to consider – any survivors in this world are going to have to become very comfortable with watching innocent people die horrible deaths. There will be adorable orphans on makeshift rafts, begging to be let aboard. And sure, maybe we DO let some aboard. But we can only carry so many. I think a lot of people are not going to be psychologically prepared to abandon so many screaming, crying people to horrible death. And maybe one of the side effects of conditioning yourself to that life is that you get really good at stabbing people in the back. You just stop caring about morality. I’m not sure we can count on a general spirit of fraternity to make sure all the boats stick together as a fleet.


  14. Ret #

    I think an armada is a pretty sweet idea. The size of those things in close formation offers pretty good deterent value against pirates. If we can get a fleet going, we can not only keep ourselves completely safe, but we can pull a little offense of our own. I’d love to see the kind of bombardment weaponry that we could cram onto the Lido deck of the ‘Carnival Pride!’


  15. Gab #

    Nicely done, Belinkie. A few hours before you posted yours, I posted one kind of similar on my own blog about how Hummers are bad after a zombiepocalypse and concluding that airships are the best way to go (for many of your reasons for preferring boats- self-sustaining capabilities, distance from the zombie hoard, renewable energy, etc.). Your piece is much better, though, I’ll admit fully. Still, I find it terribly, close to painfully, coincidental, the timing. I clicked “post,” went to bed, and saw the notice about this piece in my RSS feed the next morning while checking it before work… But anyhoo, this isn’t about me.

    Awesome work here. So long as it didn’t become an exercise in Poseidon Adventuring, I’d say you’d be pretty set on a cruise ship modified to your specifications. And I dare say, you could do things to its shape and paint job to make it look more like a military gun ship than a cruise liner in order to scare off the smaller pirate groups, too.

    For some reason, this nugget popped into my head, probably because of the vague discussions about who will be on the ship. We see stuff about the arks and whatnot in these apocalypse movies, and we sometimes get allusions to the myriad professions secured, doctors being emphasized. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard of obstetricians or OB-GYNs being a priority. And this bothers me, not just because I’m a woman, but because of the sheer fact that these survivors are going to be doing it with each other, so some babies are going to be made. And if babies are going to be made, they’re going to need to be delivered. Wouldn’t securing the future of the human race depend, at least partially, on having people skilled enough to bring them into this world close/safe at hand?

    So, Mr. Belinkie, would you make sure there were some OB-GYNs aboard, or would you risk the women die in childbirth? ;p


  16. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Gab – As usual, G-Dog, you raise some good points. In my mind, I’m kind of hoping the people who buy the zombie insurance have useful professions, like doctors, engineers, or pastry chefs. That way, you not only get $400/mo from each subscriber, you get their skillset. But let’s get real (I do love saying things like that in these kinds of posts). We’re going to wind up with a lot of people on the boat that don’t have any useful skills. I am one of them.

    So yes, I suppose we’d have to have an OB-GYN onboard. (Also, about 100,000 condoms.) To make this work, I’d have to make a list of certain indispensable professions – people whose skills are indispensable. For instance, a boat captain might be nice. And a dude who actually knows how to handle guns and can teach the rest of us. Ideally, these people would be on staff – that is, we pay their salaries, in exchange for them helping to get the boat ready. The OB-GYN is a weird case. We don’t actually need her skills until the boat launches. However, we want her within 10 miles of the boat at all times, so we’re relatively sure she’s going to make it onboard. Maybe she can stay in private practice until the zombie apocalypse, but we pay her some sort of retainer to live close to the boat and to carry a zombie beeper.

    Anyway, this is the kind of thing that just destroys your budget. For each indispensable crew member you need on staff, you have to pay not only their salary, but you’re sacrificing all the thousands of dollars their stateroom would be worth if you sold that extra insurance policy. And certain highly educated positions, like Solar-Panel Engineer, might be expensive to fill. A lot of your staff members may very well think the job is crazy and a waste of time, which is fine as long as they do their work. They’ll see. Oh yes, they’ll see.


  17. Preston #

    This is a wonderful, brilliant idea in the sense of escaping the virus. I do admit you almost have to be filthy rich to ever pull something like this off. For that kind of investment you better be damn sure the outbreak is going to happen.


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