Telling tales: Insurance claims from around the world

Telling tales: Insurance claims from around the world

Lost your phone in the most unusual place? Home insurance will probably cover it

Home insurance claims from around the world (Getty Images / Dimitri Otis)

Home insurance claims from around the world (Getty Images / Dimitri Otis)

Not sure if you do this but every time I see a link to a Pinterest Fails gallery, I just have to click it. Not only are the images hilarious but being a rather un-crafty person, I can relate.

So, it comes as no surprise that I would find ridiculous home insurance claims more than mildly amusing. I’ve been through the flood, the sewer back-up, the power failures and the extreme home renos. And if I haven’t been through it I’ve spoken to someone who has. (I can still recall Bruce Ritchie’s chilling near death experience when a semi-truck and trailer slammed into his house. Now that was not funny.)

While most home insurance claims are on the mild side, a few are not, and even fewer are just downright strange. So, here’s a collection I’ve culled from a few years tinkering, talking and poking around on the subject.

#1. Basic chemistry (for insurance folks)

A number of years ago, a U.S. homeowner put in a water damage claim only to have it rejected. Angered, she sought out a lawyer. In court she testified that she’d put a load of dirty clothes into her washing machine, which was located in the kitchen, and then left for a weekend retreat. Upon her return, she found the machine stuck on the hot water cycle—it had boiled all the water and the steady stream of steam had destroyed her kitchen. But according to her insurance company she was not covered for steam damage. After listening to the case, the judge took two minutes to decide. “Water is H20, as is steam. Case for the plaintiff.” The embarrassed insurance company soon settled.

#2. Can’t beat that logic

A plumber at a major repair firm in Ireland received an emergency form from his firm from a lady whose toilet was leaking. This is what she wrote: “The leaking toilet is reached through my back passage, but please tell the plumbers when they arrive that they must knock on the front door as my back passage is blocked with the things out of the toilet.”

#3. A long walk home

Five years ago, a couple was vacationing in Malaysia. They decided to seek out an isolated beach to do a bit of skinny dipping. After a half day search, they found the perfect spot and disrobed for a frolick in the sea. They weren’t in the water more than 15 minutes when they heard screams and yelps from the beach—a band of monkeys were tossing their clothes around. Mortified, the couple watched as the monkeys ran back into the forest, scattering their clothes behind them. It took them the better part of an hour to cobble enough attire together to make the trek back to their hotel. And when they filed a claim with their insurance company they were relieved to find out that, yes, clothes stolen by a band of thieving monkeys is covered.

#4. It’s a bird? It’s a plane? It’s a falling man

An English family was camping near Lincolnshire (east of Sheffield, UK) one summer. After packing their valuables and goods into their tent—so they could leave the site and go off on a hike—the family heard a massive rush of wind and a loud rustling sound. Moments later a parachutist from a nearby airbase landed on their tent, destroying just about everything inside. But when the family called to report the damage and file a claim they were told the insurance company wouldn’t cover accidental damage by falling men.

#5. You lost it where?

A farmer in Minnesota called his home insurance provider one morning to file a lost phone claim. He’d lost his brand-new iPhone in the rear end of a cow—he’d been helping with the calving.  Needless to say, his claim was covered.

A North Carolina woman wasn’t as lucky. While baking a cake for her daughter’s birthday, her iPhone accidentally fell into the batter. When she realized, she called her insurance company but they declined to pay the damages.

#6. Up in smoke

This tale may actually be an urban legend, but I thought I’d include it. Apparently, a clever lawyer bought a pack of very expensive cigars and added a rider to his home insurance policy insuring them against all sorts of catastrophes, including floods, storms and fire. A few months later, he filed a claim with his insurance provider: his cigars had all disappeared in a series of “small fires.” Initially, the insurance company called his bluff—correctly assuming that he’d smoked them. But the lawyer wouldn’t let it rest. He took the insurance company to court and they were forced to pay out the claim. The judge ruled that because the contract didn’t specify the type or size of fire the damage to the cigars was covered.

#7. Pass my teeth

A passenger on an Alaskan cruise was leaning over the railing, when a set of large waves rocked the boat. Excited, he opened his mouth only to watch his dentures slip out and crash into the ocean and fall under the water. He filed a lost baggage claim with his travel insurance provider. They refused to cover his claim.

#8. On or off the ground?

(This is not a home insurance claim, but I couldn’t resist)
A few years ago, a UK resident was driving his kids to preschool in his rural neighbourhood when, out of nowhere, a 10-point buck leapt out of the bushes and smashed into the car. After checking to make sure his kids were uninjured, the driver got out to inspect the damage. “Luckily, the only injuries were to the car.” When he got to work he called his auto insurance company to file a claim. After asking a few preliminary questions the company representative asked: “Were the deer’s feet on or off the ground when it hit your car?” Curious, he asked why it mattered. According to the insurance rep’s logic, if the feet are on the ground then the car was hit by something; if the feet were off the ground then the car did the hitting. The insurer ended up paying for the damage to the care, but the driver couldn’t help but wonder: “Who stares at feet when you’re being charged by a very big deer?”

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