Top 10 craziest insurance claims ever reported

Top 10 craziest insurance claims ever reported | Insurance Business America

From the silliest to the downright absurd, these are the craziest insurance claims the Insurance Business research has found

Insurance companies deal with countless claims each year, so it’s not surprising to come upon something that’s downright unbelievable. In this article, Insurance Business looks back at some of the craziest insurance claims ever reported. We will dig deeper into these cases and find out how they unraveled. We will also do a little fact-checking to see if these claims are indeed true.

Here’s our top 10 list of the silliest, funniest, and weirdest insurance claims ever made.

1.  Between a cow and a very dark place

It’s hard to separate people from their phones nowadays. That’s why it’s quite often that you hear stories of ridiculous ways people break or lose their beloved handsets.

This story from a livestock farmer from Devon, UK landed on top of a specialist mobile insurers list of the weirdest insurance claims in 2012. 

The farmer was using the torch feature of his iPhone one dark stormy night, assisting his cow while calving when the phone disappeared. He claimed that he had lost his phone inside the cow. The phone was found later – no mention of where and how – but it was damaged beyond repair. The claim was successful as the insurer agreed to cover the full cost to replace the farmer’s iPhone.

2. Burglar wins $1 million claim against homeowners

Imagine that a robber enters your home while you’re on vacation and gets trapped until you return a week later. In an audacious act, the robber sues you for mental anguish resulting from their experience. That’s what allegedly happened to a couple in Pennsylvania.

The couple went on a week-long vacation when a burglar broke into their home. The burglar then tried to escape through the garage, but the garage door wouldn’t open, locking him in. Trapped, the robber was forced to eat dog food and soda, the only edible things he could find. He was only able to get out when the couple returned. After that, the robber filed a $1 million lawsuit against them for mental anguish and won. 

Makes your blood boil, right? It would mine – if it were true.

Apparently, it’s not. Curious about the proliferation of such stories, a Georgia-based personal injury law firm investigated the validity of these cases. The firm found that these stories were just part of an email campaign created to highlight discussions on the 7th Amendment and related legal issues.

3. Bat poop! Na na na na na na na na…

What’s worse than finding a foot of bat poop covering your attic floor? It’s finding two feet of bat poop covering your attic floor.

An Ottawa couple’s dream home becomes a nightmare when they discovered a bat infestation in a sealed attic. A specialist confirmed that the bats had been living there for decades. Worse, the bats have accumulated a foot or two – three or four in some places – of poop, which has seeped through the ceiling and walls. The situation was so dire that the house needed a complete rebuild.

After initially refusing to provide coverage, the couple’s home insurance company agreed to pay for the rebuild of the entire home. Glad this one has a happy ending.

4. Dead man hiking

In 2000, Australian millionaire Harry Gordon tried to get a AU$3.5 million payout from his life insurance policy by faking his own death. With help from his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Josaphine, they cashed in on the claim. Harry then used the money to start a new life in New Zealand. There, he met his second wife.

The situation unraveled after Harry and his new wife bumped into his brother, Michael, on a hiking trip in Tauranga. Michael then told Sheila about Harry’s new wife and that’s when things escalated quickly.

Authorities later uncovered the fraud. Harry was arrested and pleaded guilty to conspiring to obtain money by deception, among other charges. He was sentenced to 15 months in jail. Later, he went on to write a book aptly titled How I Faked My Own Death and Did Not Get Away with It.

5. Cigarson

Next on our list of the craziest insurance claims is that from a North Carolina lawyer who insured his box of rare and expensive cigar against fire. After smoking all the cigars, the lawyer filed a claim against his insurer, saying the cigars were destroyed “in a series of small fires.” Unsurprisingly, the insurance company denied the claim, arguing he just smoked all the cigars. The lawyer then sued and won. The judge ruled that the insurer failed to define in the policy what an “unacceptable fire” would be.

Rather than go through the costly process of an appeal, the insurance company paid the $15,000 settlement. It then sued the lawyer for 24 counts of arson, which includes intentionally burning insured property. The lawyer was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay a fine.

But is this story true? The case was said to be a first-place winner in the “Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.” We did a thorough internet search about the contest but didn’t find anything. It’s also doubtful that any insurer would insure a cigar against fire. So, it’s probably just an urban legend circulating for years.

6. Straight out of Three Stooges

A cooking accident that seemed straight out of a slapstick movie raised alarm bells for a Delaware home insurance company. Nicholas Di Puma claimed that a kitchen mishap caused his house and car to go up in smoke.

According to this report, Di Puma tried to put out the flame from a burning pan with a dishrag, but it also caught fire. He then took the pan and threw it out of his front door. Unfortunately, it landed on the backseat of his car setting it ablaze. A second pan also caught fire but as he was about to throw it out, he tripped over a box and the pan landed on his leather sofa. This instantly ignited the chair. 

Authorities obviously weren’t convinced. The presiding judge described the events “like the plot of a Three Stooges movie.” Di Puma pleaded guilty to attempted insurance fraud. He was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $38,000 fine.

7. Rooftop parking

Farmers Insurance is known for its series of Hall of Claims campaign, which shows some of the craziest insurance claims it has dealt with. In one of the commercials, the insurer shares a claim involving a car that landed on the rooftop of a house. The insurer didn’t share many details but according to Professor Burke, the campaign’s main character, the claim was covered.

8. Shiver me dentures

Who would have thought travel insurance would cover your false teeth? A pensioner on a cruise did. The man lost his dentures while vomiting over the side of the cruise ship due to sea sickness. He then filed a claim under the lost baggage portion of his policy, which considers dentures as personal baggage. His insurer complied and paid for a new set of dentures. 

9. Beware of thieving monkeys

There have been several claims involving tourists who have fallen victim to thieving monkeys, particularly in Southeast Asia where these primates often roam free. Most have been covered by travel insurance. But among the craziest insurance claims involving monkeys was probably that of a couple traveling in Malaysia. 

The couple had their luggage stolen by a troop of monkeys, scattering its contents in a nearby rainforest. This left a trail of t-shirts, dresses, and underwear. Fortunately, their travel insurance coverage included “theft by monkey.”

Here’s a video on why you should beware of thieving monkeys.

10. Oh, hail no!

Back in the 1990s, Kentucky-based Hyland Insurance received a suspicious claim for a hail-damage car. The adjuster who inspected the damage was skeptical because the round divots that peppered the car’s entire surface were perfectly symmetrical. The insurer rejected the claim on the grounds that the car was intentionally damaged using a ball-peen hammer.

You’d think the unscrupulous client would stop there after being caught red-handed attempting insurance fraud – but no. Relentless, the man filed a police report claiming someone damaged his car with a ball-preen hammer. He then submitted a new claim. Because Hyland couldn’t prove that the damage was intentional, they were forced to settle the claim.

Insurance agents handle hundreds if not thousands of claims each year. If you find dealing with these types of cases exciting, then this is the career for you. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to become an insurance agent if you want to be one. 

Car insurance claims

For claims involving car accidents, whoever receives the check depends on the type of claim and who is at fault. If the policyholder causes an accident and files a liability claim, the other driver will receive the payment. For collision claims, the car insurance company covers the cost to repair the policyholder’s vehicle.

Home insurance claim

Once the insurance adjuster has completed their assessment, the insurer settles the check depending on the type of coverage:

Actual cost value

This is where the payment is based on the estimated cost of rebuilding the home based on its current market value.

Replacement cost value

This type of policy covers the overall cost of repairing or rebuilding the home to the same standard.

If the home is under a mortgage, the insurer will most likely send a check to both the homeowner and the lender. Most mortgage agreements follow this arrangement to protect the lender’s interests.

The insurance company often releases a part of the payout before construction or repair begins. This allows the policyholder to hire a contractor. The insurer then releases more money as the construction progresses and makes the full payment once the home is rebuilt and passes the inspection.

Life insurance claims

Life insurance provides a tax-free lump-sum payment to the policyholder’s family after their death. The payout can be used to pay off loans and debts and meet daily living expenses.

Life insurance coverage comes in several variations but generally falls into two categories:

Term life insurance

This policy pays a stated amount if the insured dies within a specified period.

Permanent life insurance

This policy provides guaranteed lifetime coverage. Some policies offer a cash value element that builds up over time. This can be used as collateral if the policyholder decides to borrow.

Life insurance plan holders must designate a person to receive the death benefit, also called the beneficiary. This can be the insured’s:

  • spouse
  • immediate family
  • other relatives
  • friends
  • business partners
  • charitable organization

Policyholders can name several beneficiaries and assign how much benefit each person or group will receive.

Health insurance claims

Health insurers often check first if the service is covered under the plan. They also verify other important details of the policy. These include copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums the policyholder may have paid throughout the policy term.

If the service is covered, the insurer sends the payment to the doctor or the medical service provider. The insurance company may also reimburse a part or the full cost of a service, depending on the policy.

In policies that require the policyholders to submit the claims themselves, plan holders may have to pay for the service upfront and wait for a reimbursement.

Sage advice that insurance agents give their clients is to be smart about what they claim. If the cost of the damage is less or just slightly over the deductible amount, it might not make sense to file a claim. Deductibles are there to prevent insurers from getting a lot of small and low-value claims.

As an insurance agent, it’s best to talk to your clients about their policies long before they even need to file a claim. You may also be obligated to report discussions about a potential claim to the insurer even if your client chooses not to file. This is because it can reflect the chance of a risk happening, which has an impact on premiums.

Keep abreast of the latest developments in the insurance claims process in our Claims News Section. Be sure to bookmark this page to access breaking news and the latest industry updates.

What do you think of our list of the craziest insurance claims? As an insurance agent, what is the weirdest insurance claim that you’ve handled? We’d love to see your story below.

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