Insurance Claims That Are Stranger Than Fiction
When things go wrong with homes or cars, insurance can be the one saving grace, but that doesn’t mean you can count on it to bail you out of absolutely anything. Insurance claims adjusters have heard it all, but some things simply aren’t covered. From the mundane to the unbelievable, the job is often like a form of detective work.
Of course, weeding the fraudulent claims out from those that are ridiculous but strangely true at least keeps long days on the job from being dull. Thanks to the commentary of some claims handlers on Reddit, we get to enjoy some laughs and marvel at the truly bizarre. Enjoy!
The Case of the Missing Shed
Probably the strangest claim I ever saw was a burglary claim. The homeowners had rented their 500-acre property out to tenants, and included in the lease was a shed full of equipment — tractors, harvesters, work tools, etc. Basically, everything you need to run a farm was in that shed.
That’s One Way to Save on Gas
This one lady had over 50 towing and labor claims within a six-month period. She would drive until she ran out of gas and then call the tow number. They would come out and give her a few gallons of gas.
The Sneaky Diamond Heist
Around a decade ago, this lady took her ring into a jeweler. One of the claws holding the stone was bent out, and she wanted to get it repaired. Since the job was small, the jeweler kept the ring overnight, performed the repair and didn't charge the woman for the job when she came back to pick it up.
“I’m Not Drunk! You’re Drunk!”
One of my favorites was an insured guy hit a telephone pole, and when the police arrived, he was arrested for DUI. According to him, that was a BS charge, because he hadn't been drinking before the accident.
Cats Are Falling from the Sky
I found my car one morning with a huge dent on the bonnet. It cracked the servo fluid reservoir underneath, so steering didn't work either. I was parked next to a 10-story building, and it looked like someone dropped something on it.
What a Money Pit
There was a couple that had a ton of damage done to their house by a sinkhole, but they were claiming a ton of luxury items, such as jewelry, fur coats, etc., were all lost. Here's the best part: They always paid for these items in cash, and they always bought duplicates. It didn't take the forensic accountant very long to figure that one out.
Careful What You Post Online
A favorite of mine is a guy who took his giant, customized truck mudding while he was drinking. Against the advice of everyone with him, he drove it into a creek to … well, I'm not really sure why. His truck got stuck, the water levels rose, so he decided to just report the truck stolen. He didn't think about the fact that there were tons of witnesses and that he posted it on his [social media account].
Driven to Distraction
I worked with auto claims for a while. When we would get a new claim assigned to us, we would review the file, including a very brief (one to two sentence) description of what happened ("facts of loss"). My cube mate got one that said: "Insured driver (our customer) rear-ended claimant (other company's customer) after being distracted by a gentleman practicing his kung fu moves on the sidewalk."
And Suddenly There Was a Car on the Roof
A kid was speeding down a residential street while drunk. He loses control and runs up onto the sidewalk. The way he hit the wall caused it to partially fall and become a ramp that launched him into a full-on boardslide along the roof of the house. It looked like something out of a video game.
Cell Phones and Woodchippers Don’t Mix
A guy came into [electronics store] to get his cell phone replaced under the accidental protection. Apparently, he had his phone in his shirt pocket while putting wood into a woodchipper, and it fell out of his pocket and into the machine. He brought in a bag of sawdust/cell phone dust.
When Someone Takes Those “Good Neighbor” Commercials a Little Too Seriously
We had an older woman who would constantly call our office with the most outlandish requests/claims. She once called and insisted we drive to her house to take her to the grocery store while her car was being worked on. It got to the point where every time we saw her pop up on caller ID, you could just feel the dread fall over the office.
Breaking Up a Fraud Ring
I had a claim that reported a family of seven was struck by a hit and run driver. This particular state didn’t require the responsible party to be identified for the insurance carrier to provide uninsured motorists bodily injury (UMBI) coverage.
When It Rains It Pours — or Something Like That
I don't work in insurance claims, but I think my insurance company had a "you've got to be kidding me" moment earlier this year. I live on acreage, and our property now has two normal houses on it. Earlier in the year, we had just finished building our second house when we had a fire in it. It was a brand new house, which we hadn't even moved into yet, just filled with furniture and appliances. The toaster caught fire after the lever had been held down by the appliance cupboard door, and it set the kitchen on fire.
The Downside of Traveling with Everything but the Kitchen Sink
We had a claim for theft outside of a home. The lady said she takes her jewelry everywhere she goes to avoid theft — all $20,000 of it. So, she lodged a claim for theft after she had taken the jewelry and left it in her car while she was at a friend's party. She parked the car three blocks away in a park and "left" the window down. Also stolen were 2 iPads, 2 cameras, 2 iPods and a handbag, which she "didn't feel like bringing into the party." Uh-huh.
Welcome to the Snake House
Grandpa worked as a claims adjustor for a fairly well-known company for years. One of the stories I can remember him telling was that shortly after Hurricane Camille, he and a few co-workers went down to Alabama as back up.
Someone Watched The Borrowers One Too Many Times
My coworker had a claim for theft because little people were living in the claimant’s attic and had a pulley system in her ventilation system. They were coming down through her vents and stealing things like burned down candles, adult diapers, coupons, etc. and hoarding them in her attic. She wouldn't go in her attic because even though these people were small enough to fit in her vents, she was scared they would attack her.
What a Considerate Thief
When I worked auto claims, I had this lovely older lady make a claim that one of her bridge partners — another older lady — was jealous of her new tires and had her son steal the tires from her car.
The Attack of the Turkey
I had a man call last year about a month before Thanksgiving. A turkey had jumped through their picture window. He was laughing, but I could hear his wife in the background crying and the police. Their dog had then fought the turkey, breaking a chandelier, China and the table, and there was blood all over. The dog was fine, but boy was it a mess. It was a shame the turkey didn't wait until Thanksgiving.
When Insurance Fraud Doesn’t Quite Pan Out as Expected
I got a quote on a customer's cars, an Audi Q7 and a V8 sport utility vehicle that were both vandalized. Both had all the interiors cut up, silver spray paint all over the dash, broken glass and torn roof lining. The story was that he and his wife had slept in until 10 a.m., and when they woke up and went out to the cars — shock and horror! The cars were both locked, there were no signs of forced entry and keys to both cars were inside.
Does This Policy Cover Damages from Mythical Creatures?
My favorite story was the one about a woman who tried to claim compensation after being "attacked by a vampire." This Miss-Havisham-looking woman actually sent in a video testimonial in which she sat and described, in a sonorous, mystical sort of voice, how "he enveloped me in his bat-like wings." Okay, then.
You Have to Admire the Hustle
A customer came in with a four-door Cadillac sedan complaining that he hit "a" pothole and bent all four rims. The rims on the car were fine, and he told me, "No, it’s the ones in the backseat. I had them on at the time and had to put the original ones back on."
Never Underestimate the Power of the Wind
I was the source of a kind of strange claim. We had bought a big above-ground pool and were going to install it ourselves because the installers wanted $900. This thing was 26 feet across and had a 4-foot high steel wall. The wall weighed more than 300 pounds. It took me, my kids and one son-in-law to get it properly set up. We decided to fill it the next morning because it was getting late.
The Horrors of Hoarders
In Maryland, a customer had a pipe break due to freezing. It turned out he was also a hoarder. He had let the water flow in his basement for a day before turning it off. He did nothing to clean it up, and it took a few weeks to get out and see him because he wouldn't return my calls.
Should Probably Work on That Aim
An employee of one of our clients saw a magpie flying past and thought it would be funny to hit it with something, so he threw half of his sandwich at it. In the process of doing this, he caught his hand on the flashing on the roof of the smoking hut next to him. It was apparently his employers' fault, according to his solicitors.
Well That Escalated Quickly
A worker’s compensation claimant alleged that while she was removing cutlery from the cutlery basket of a dishwasher, she managed to catch her finger for a moment in the basket. This "incident" led to the development of a wrist injury, neurological pain and numbness in the arm, subsequent back pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia and loss of social skills. She hasn't worked for four years and has cost her previous employer millions.
The Irony of Timing
When I was in college, I called up to start the insurance on my motorcycle. The lady told me the premium was like $291 for the year, but I couldn't pay monthly unless it was $300. So, I asked how I could just make it $300. She said to add theft coverage, which was like $12, so I did.
There Is a Reason for Security Officers
One day, an unsatisfied customer came to the firm with an auto bumper in his hands. He entered through the front doors and threw the bumper at the information desk. Security guys were shocked and didn’t say or do anything.
He's Not Even Dead Yet
My mom worked in insurance for years and has all sorts of stories. A typical story she would tell would be along the lines of: Customer - "I want to start the process of cashing in my father's life insurance." Mom - "Okay, can you tell me when your father passed away?" Customer - "He hasn't yet, but the doctor just told us he probably won't last the night, so I may as well get started."
Paranormal Activity Is Covered, Right?
We had someone claim a poltergeist had destroyed their furniture. I had to inform them that supernatural occurrences are not covered by the policy. Bummer.