If you’ve ever had an unexpected event that caused loss or damage, you’re not alone. Whether it’s cats or children, accidental damage can happen in the most unusual of ways.
Gareth Hemming from the insurer Aviva says: “From the everyday unusual to the downright bizarre, we encounter all sorts of claims from our customers.
“Insurance is designed in case of the unforeseen and unexpected – and as our claims experience shows, we see plenty of situations which couldn’t have been predicted.”
From the bizarre to the hilarious, here are some of the more unusual claims that insurance companies have seen over the years…
Pets and other animals are a common source of accidental damage. Whether it’s a dog knocking a can of beer over a laptop by wagging its tail, or a mutt hearing a dog barking on the TV and jumping into the screen, our four-legged friends have been responsible for many odd claims.
- In 1975, a red setter dog climbed into a car for a nap. As it lay down, it knocked the car out of gear, leading the car to roll down a slope backwards and strike a brick gatepost
- A customer panicked when a spider ran up her leg as she was driving. This caused her to bump into a parked vehicle
- In another incident, a deer fell into a customer's outdoor swimming pool. The animal damaged the cover and tore the pool lining, causing it to leak. In a happy ending, a local animal charity was able to look after the deer and insurer Aviva settled the claim
- The bodywork of a car had to be repaired after it was damaged when a horse mistook it for a potential mate
- A 71-year-old woman from Bath in Somerset received an insurance payout after she locked a badger in her shed, which then ate a hole in the wall to escape
- A family received a substantial £8,000 payout after a pigeon flew down their chimney and damaged the carpet, ornaments, and sofas
- A seven-month-old puppy in Cardiff stole a one litre bottle of oil from the kitchen. After dragging it to the living room it chewed it on the sofa, causing £953 worth of damage.
If you have pets, adding accidental damage to your home insurance could be a wise move. Including this cover helps you to ensure you’re protected if there’s damage to your home or property – including that cause by the family pet or a wild animal.
Leakages and spillages are another common source of insurance claims. You’ve probably spilled wine on your carpet or pasta sauce on your sofa over the years, so you’ll know how easy it is for food and drink to stain your possessions.
Here are some of the more unusual food and drink claims.
- A home insurance customer claimed for a replacement mobile phone when it stopped working after she dropped it in a bowl of custard
- A customer sneezed as he was about to eat his lunch. This sprayed soup all over his carpet and couch, leading to a claim.
It’s not just home insurance that may need to pay out from a food-related incident.
In 2020, one of the more unusual claims that Aviva settled was for a motor insurance customer who encountered an oncoming tractor pulling a trailer of potatoes, which flew off and struck their vehicle.
When reporting the incident, the customer commented: "There were no injuries but there were some chips from where the potatoes hit the car."
Little, inquisitive fingers can be a source of chaos in your home.
In a double whammy of damage, an insurer received a claim after a small child spilt a glass of Coke on his grandad's laptop. Trying to fix the problem by drying the laptop with a hairdryer melted the keys, causing £239 worth of damage.
In another incident, a grandfather in Guildford held his baby grandson up to show him off over Skype. The infant then immediately vomited on the laptop, causing £437 worth of damage.
19th century mishaps
Insurance has been around for centuries. While the specific events might have evolved over the years, the unusual nature of claims hasn’t changed in more than a hundred years.
Back in 1888, a man injured his arm when his finger was caught in a woman’s corset as he was trying to save her from drowning. In the same year, a £10 payout was awarded to someone who lost a toenail while getting into bed.
Other historical claims include:
- A vicar who was awarded £120 after falling while playing leapfrog in 1875
- A publican received £100 in 1887 after suffering a shin injury while ejecting a drunken man from his establishment
- In 1888, a Dundee surgeon received £15 after a bite to the finger while examining a patient’s mouth.
And, in an early example of accidental damage, a London hotel keeper was awarded £25 and 10 shillings in 1878 after being hit in the eye with a cork after opening a bottle of champagne.
While home insurance claims can range from everything from terriers to toddlers, travel insurance claims can also come from a variety of strange sources.
In Sri Lanka a lady was hospitalised after a coconut fell on her head as she was calmly sitting under a palm tree reading a book. Thankfully, her insurer covered her medical costs.
In the depths of the Malaysian rainforest a couple found that monkeys had stolen all their clothes from their lodgings and distributed them all over the jungle. The insurer compensated the holidaymakers for the incident.
Other strange travel incidents include:
- An insurer paid out compensation to a man who walked straight into a bus shelter in Athens. He was honest enough to admit on his claim that the accident happened because he'd been distracted by a group of girls wearing bikinis!
- Children buried a video camera in the Cornwall sand as their family went for a swim. They couldn’t find where they had left it, and the insurer paid the full £600 in compensation
- A bride caught fire when her wedding dress came too close to the barbecue. Her new husband reacted by throwing her into the sea, and the insurance pay out helped to compensate for the incident
- In another flaming event, a lady visiting a Greek bar suffered third degree burns by standing over a novelty bar that intermittently went up in flames. Even though there was a warning alarm, she hadn't understood it. The insurance did pay compensation.
A failure to look after teeth has also led to insurance claims. One pensioner lost his dentures over the side of a cruise ship during a bout of sea sickness.
In a separate incident, a cruise passenger also lost his dentures when a gust of wind whipped them out of his mouth. Apparently, he was singing at the time.
Insurers compensated both pensioners for their loss.
Get the right insurance
While it’s unlikely that a claim for life insurance or Critical Illness cover will be quite as unusual as these examples, there are ways you can ensure that any claim is paid quickly.
When you apply for insurance, it’s vital that you complete the proposal form honestly and accurately. Not disclosing certain details – for example, previous medical conditions or if you are a smoker – can mean that a claim would be denied in the future.
While insurers overwhelmingly pay insurance claims, it’s important you are honest when you take out any cover.
For help in finding the right insurance for you, compare insurance quotes online or contact one of our experts who can answer your questions.
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