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09|04|2007 11:57 pm EDT

Domain Insurance by Name Intelligence

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Editorial, ICANN / Policy, Legal Issues, News

In a blog post today, Jay introduces domain insurance as a new service offered by his company Name Intelligence. I first came across “domain insurance” as a business model, when I heard Frank Schilling talking about it several years ago. Earlier this year, he blogged about this topic. Andrew from Domain Name Wire also posted a great article about Domain Title Insurance at Circled ID. While many domain forums have also covered this topic, so far, no player (well, maybe apart from TROANN) has introduced a model that comes close to a insurance like offering – so let us take a closer look at what Jay has to offer:

Jay starts off his post by mentioning the cost of creating your own registrar – and I will just touch on this briefly, as I am hoping to cover this topic in depth at a later point. He writes:

For those that are more paranoid and want more assurance my advice would be to get your own ICANN registrar. You will need about $70K in your bank account plus ICANN fees and processing paperwork should take about $10K to complete. So be prepared with $100K if you want a registrar of your own. Your bill each year from ICANN will be about $5,000. If you have a good domain $5,000 is not a lot of money. Set up your own registrar!

As Jay says, you have to be prepared to show $70,000 USD of working capital to ICANN, this money does neither have to deposited anywhere, nor is it a charge by ICANN. There are some deposits involved for pre-paying registrations at the registry, but we’ll cover the details of that at a later point. Now let’s take a closer look at the actual insurance offering:

For those of you that really want my personal help. Here is the deal. Yes, DomainTools (Name Intelligence) has its own ICANN Registrar and we can protect any domain with a fence so high no one will be able to steal your domain. We can safeguard domains and provide Insurance on them because we would require a high level of contact with the owner before any change would happen. The cell phone number of the owner and a personal call back would be required to verify any change on a domain.

Domain Insurance Per Domain
Cost per Year Coverage Per day Lost
$100 $100,000 $1,000
$500 $500,000 $5,000
$1,000 $1,000,000 $10,000
$5,000 $5,000,000 $50,000
$10,000 $20,000,000 $200,000

Per Day a domain is stolen. If a domain is stolen. We will pay ten times the yearly fee per day until we recover the domain or until the claim is exhausted. If you want to enroll please email me at “jay -at- domaintools.com�. We are the first company and only company that is offering domain insurance. While this is not our core business however we have a dedicated connection to Verisign that is secure and well guarded. I will personally be monitoring every transaction.

I am quite excited about this new offering – and I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out. For now there are some open questions:

While I did some research on the Domain Insurance topic last year, I never really became the insurance expert I would have had to be in order to fully master this topic. For example I am still not quite sure, if the term “insurance” is to some extend protected by law. Maybe one of the other readers can shed more light on this – I just notice how stores normally call their insurance offering an “extended warranty” and even car manufacturers call their (almost pure profit) “paint chip insurance” a “protection plan”.

When this topic came up at Circle ID, Brett Lewis asked the question “How does the title company insure against trademark claims?“. A very good question. I cannot imagine that any insurance would cover UDRP cases, unless it also includes it would cover legal cost in case of a dispute. Or maybe even a case like the recent lawsuit against “bodog.com”, where the US-based registrar eNom disabled a domain name based on a US court order, even though the domain is owned by a non-US entity.

Jay offers his valuable time to personally monitor every transaction. While this is a great offering, what happens to your domain if something should happen to Jay, for example if he is ever sick? Name Intelligence has other employees, but do you have the same level of trust and relationship with the other employees that you have with Jay? Another possible issue is if something happens to you. Have you ever thought who would take over running your business in case of an emergency? Does Name Intelligence know?

In a time when even some large registrars still do not keep a complete record of ownership changes in a database, how do you actually verify ownership of a Domain? The whois archive at DomainTools can be a great starting point, but it is unfortunately not a complete whois history, since as far as I know it mostly stores information for monitored domains and whenever a domain is queried (Jay, please correct me if this is wrong).

I guess in a way the new data escrow project by ICANN (which will require registrars to place ownership and whois information for domains with an escrow provider) may also help create a central registry for domain ownership, but I would imagine we have a long way to go before all registrars will be signed up and will be recording every change to a domain.

And while the Title Registry of Ownership for Assigned Names and Numbers (TROANN) already lists some domains on their site, it looks to me like those are largely those owned by David W. Nance, the TROANN founder. In addition, I cannot seem to find a way to look up the registered owner of a name, since a click on the registered domain in the list brings me to the website hosted under the domain itself, if there is a link at all.

Are you going to buy domain insurance? What do you do to protect and track your domains? Do you use a tool like dnZoom, Rebel.com or Fabulous.com domain portfolio management to track your domains? Let us know in the comments.

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4 Comments

[…] Domain Insurance by Name Intelligence: Insurance on domain names may sound like a joke, but it’s a real product. Find out the details from Domain Name News. […]

David W. Nance

December 28, 2007 @ 6:49 pm EDT

TROANN is definitely distinct from domain insurance. The latter covers some portion of your costs resulting from covered events. TROANN makes a record of ownership of a domain and ensures that ownership of that domain can’t be legally changed except by the current owner through TROANN. If the domain is hijacked/stolen, the true owner will have indisputable proof of their ownership and so any court will much more quickly return control to that owner. When you have a great domain, either inherently or through your investment of time and money, you want to get it back in days and not months. One clear benefit from registering domain ownership with TROANN is that the topic of ownership gets addressed early on, whereas domain registrars, registries and ICANN are not interested in helping domain owners here.

The only think we at TROANN offer that is close to domain insurance is our Pre-Paid Domain Recovery Plan, which provides up to $2,000 worth of legal services to recover hijacked/stolen domains.

Paul Keating

February 25, 2008 @ 7:18 am EDT

I trust Jay has checked with his State Commissioner of Insurance ! FYI Jay, most of the companies you reference as providing warranty claims are doing just that – warrantying their own product. You are selling insurance. You would do well to find out the real rules and stay away from problems of the likes that FUSA will encounter the first time an “investor” loses money and sues the domain owner (for securities fraud – you remember that little law?) and the “stock exchange” (for aiding and abetting without a license).

Ezeakial @ Home Insurance

September 25, 2008 @ 10:30 pm EDT

I am interested in this concept, because last year my domain service expired on a successful site that I owned. When I went to extend my service they told me they already sold the rights to someone else. I didn’t know what to do.

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