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Thread: Unusual Insurance Claims

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    Default Unusual Insurance Claims

    Thought I'd bore you all with some reminiscing of my days as a claims manager (left the industry in 2000). I'll split them into seperate posts to stop you getting lost in a sea of words. Some are memorable for the wrong reasons – sad or macabre – some are just plain silly, but they're all 100% true and ones I dealt with myself.

    1) Woman in her 20’s wanted to claim for damage done to her car whilst it was being driven by her boyfriend, who wasn’t covered by the policy as she hadn’t named him as a driver, and she claimed he’d taken her keys without her knowing about it. I told her she could claim on the insurance as a theft claim, but only if she admitted to the police that her boyfriend stole her car – she couldn’t tell the police he did have her permission (to stop him being prosecuted for the theft), and then tell us he didn’t have her permission, just to claim on the theft cover – i.e. stick to one story. She decided she would tell the police he stole it. Ok, I said, what’s the damage? Well, she said, he actually used it in an armed raid on a bank – he was the getaway driver, and the damage is that all 4 tyres are punctured because the police used a stinger device to stop the car after the robbery, the bonnet and front wings are dented where the police slammed the 4 robbers down onto the front of the car as they handcuffed them, and the interior needs valeting. What’s wrong with interior, I asked. “One of the robbers wet himself when the armed police surrounded the car and pointed their guns at them”…..

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    2) Middle-aged man pulled up to his driveway in his Nissan Micra, went inside and got his wife and teenage daughter out of the house, and made them watch as he got back inside the car, poured petrol over himself and the interior, and then set himself alight (he died at the scene). The claim was reported the very next day by the wife, who didn’t seem particularly upset about what had happened, but was furious that the courtesy car hadn’t arrived yet.

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    3) Old guy, who worked as a caretaker at the Saudi embassy in London, rang to say the car he’d bought at the weekend and put on cover yesterday, was all dented when he bought it, and would we please repair it under the insurance? No Sir, insurance doesn’t work like that – you can’t buy a damaged car and get us to repair it, we repair damage that happens after you insure it with us. OK, he said, sounding disappointed.

    Two days later he was back on the phone – he’d just come back to his car and found someone had dented it all over, while it was parked at work – would we repair it please. I took details of the damage, which turned out to be identical to the damage he’d reported 2 days before – the same damage he’d previously admitted was already there when he bought the car. I confronted him with this coincidence; “Oh no, I had that old damage repaired already, this is new damage”. “You had the old damage repaired in 2 days and now it has new, identical damage on it?” “Yes”.

    “Have you got a receipt for the repairs?”. “No, I paid cash”
    “How much did you pay?” “I can’t remember”
    “What’s the name of the garage who repaired it?” “I can’t remember”
    “What’s the address of the garage?” “I can’t remember”
    “What part of London is it in, roughly?” “I can’t remember”
    “Well how did you get there then? Tell me what roads you drove on from your house and I’ll find it on a map”. “I can’t remember.

    If a claim was fraudulent, I never liked to turn it down just because I thought it was fraudulent – I liked to have incontrovertible evidence I could quote to the customer, that way they didn’t waste my staff’s time trying to log the claim again and again, hoping it would somehow slip through the net. So, I thought to myself, I could get a claims investigator to interview this guy, he’d easily get him to confess about the damage, but the investigator’s fee will be a minimum of £200, and I’m not wasting that on such an easy case. Then I thought, I can get a loss adjustor to visit him, he’d ask a few sly questions and trick the customer into admitting the truth, but that’ll cost me £110. Then I thought, I can get an engineer to inspect the damage on the car, and he’ll prove that it’s all old damage, not freshly-repaired panels which have since suffered new damage, but that’ll cost me £60, and I’m not wasting that money on this silly claim. So, it ended up being the one-and-only-time I deployed an utterly spurious reason for turning down a claim: remembering that the old guy had said the damage occurred while the car was parked in the grounds of the Saudi embassy where he was a caretaker, I explained to him that the embassy constituted Saudi soil, and since he hadn’t informed us prior to the damage occurring that he was taking his car into another country – as required by the wording of his policy – we couldn’t cover any damage that happened whilst the car was – technically – in Saudi Arabia. A silly explanation to match a silly claim.

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    4) A Customer had had her Mercedes CLK cabriolet stolen; it had since been found with only minor damage, but the police ordered that it be destroyed without any parts being removed from it. The reason? The thief had used it in an armed robbery, the police had caught up with him, surrounded him whilst he sat in the car, resulting in a stand-off situation, which the police resolved by shooting him in the head. The car had then sat in a compound over a long, hot summer, unable to be returned to either the rightful owner or the insurers, whilst the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigated the shooting, and whilst the coroner’s inquest took place. At the end of all that, the bits of blood and brain matter that had splattered the inside of the car, getting in all the nooks and crannies, had made the car stink, causing the police to order it be destroyed after it was released to us.

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    5) An elderly gentleman was being very awkward with one of my staff, so I took over the call. I always started with “Was anyone hurt in the accident?” – if someone was seriously hurt, for example, you have to have a different tone of voice and attitude than a run-of-the-mill claim. “No”, he replied, “no one hurt”. He went on to explain what happened: a BMW 3-series travelling in the opposite direction on a dual carriageway had lost control, bounced over the central reservation, and landed right in this gentleman’s path, and this gent couldn’t avoid hitting the BMW in the driver’s door with full force. “And no one was hurt??” I asked again. “No one hurt” he again confirmed. When we moved on to taking details of the other driver, it turned out he didn’t get them. “Why not?” I asked. “Well, I couldn’t, could I? He was dead”. “I asked you twice if anyone was hurt, and both times you said no”. “Dead isn’t hurt, is it? I was considering going through his pockets to get some ID, but by then the police had turned up, so I thought better of it”. Talk about callous…..

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    6) A guy in his 70’s, reported that he’d been sitting in his Ford Scorpio Automatic with the engine running, in a street in West London. He moved off slowly, then decided to stop again and so pressed the brake pedal. Instead of stopping, the car shot forward, swung over to the opposite side of the road, mounted the kerb, knocked over several people sitting at tables outside a coffee shop, and went straight through the window of the shop. After telling me all this, the old gent was adamant that there must have been a fault with the gearbox that caused the car to lurch forward when he pressed the brake pedal, and that he wanted this fault investigated thoroughly by the repairing garage. I thought to myself, it’s obvious that you stamped on the accelerator by mistake instead of pressing the brake pedal, so there’s no gearbox fault to be investigated here. Furthermore, all the garages we had contracts with were bodyshops – they’d have no interest in, or knowledge of, gearbox faults. Thirdly, the car was years out of the manufacturers warranty, so what’s the point of trying to blame the gearbox – doesn’t change the fact that we now have to pay for all the personal injury claims from the coffee shop customers, not to mention repairing the shop and covering their loss of earnings.

    Anyway, the old gent’s car went in for repair, and he was given a courtesy car in the meantime. Two days later and he was on the phone to me again: he was driving over a roundabout in the courtesy car when the car suddenly veered to the left and hit the car next to him. “There’s a fault with the steering that made the car swerve all by itself, I want the steering investigated thoroughly….”

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    7) A middle-aged lady reported that the front of her car had been damaged in an incident involving a motorcyclist, who sadly, had died at the scene. She explained that she’d been driving along a country lane, approaching a T-junction which was on her right. A motorcycle was approaching her from the opposite direction, when a Transit van pulled out from the side road and turned right – in a hurry to get in front of her rather than behind her, and the driver apparently hadn’t seen the motorcyclist at all, who collided with the front offside corner of the van.

    “Did you then collide with the van?” I asked her. “No”.
    “So how did your car get damaged – all you did was witness the accident?”
    “The debris from the motorcycle and rider hit my car after colliding with the van….but neither I nor the police could tell whether it was the bike or the rider…it was all mixed together…”.

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    8) Two similar “stolen” car claims:
    A woman in her 20’s rang to say her car had been stolen, and she needed a hire car straight away. I told her that as it was a Sunday afternoon, we wouldn’t be able to provide a replacement car until the next morning. She didn’t like that answer and told me that her 6 month old baby was very distressed about the theft of the car and I wasn’t helping. Wow, that baby has a lot on his mind for a 6 month old, I thought to myself. 30 minutes later, the woman was back on the phone: “Don’t bother with your stupid hire car tomorrow, I’ve found the car, I’d just parked it somewhere else and forgotten about it”.

    A guy in his 60’s rang to say that his wife had parked their car in the town centre somewhere, she couldn’t remember where she’d parked it (it turned out she had some kind of dementia) and therefore he wanted to make a theft claim. Wait a minute, I said. The car is probably still exactly where your wife parked it, and if she could remember where that was, everything would be fine, so how is this a “stolen” car? “Well if we can’t remember where it is, that’s the same as having it stolen” he replied. “No it’s not” I said. “If you lose your keys down the back of your sofa, that doesn’t mean they’ve been stolen. It’s the same with your car. As far as you know, no one has taken your car – there is no thief, so there is no theft”. He didn’t like that line of argument and started shouting at me. “Sir”, I said, “wouldn’t you be better off directing your energies towards helping your wife retrace her steps, instead of shouting at me?” Two days later he phoned back to say the police had found the car, parked exactly where his wife always parked it when she went shopping….

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    9) 18 year old youth rang to report some accident damage to his car. “Sorry Sir”, my staff told him, “your policy was cancelled 4 months ago because you failed to keep up the monthly payments. We advised you in writing at the time, so there’s no cover in force at the moment”. “Ok, no problem” he said, without any argument.

    Half an hour later his father was on the phone, effing-and-blinding, so he was put through to me. “What’s this cr*p about you cancelling my son’s policy without telling him??!! You bunch of cowboys, you’re happy to take the money and then you do whatever it takes to get out of paying a claim!! If you think you’re gonna get away with it you’ve got another think coming!!”

    “Sir”, I said, “we’re not cowboys. We had a contract with your son. He would pay us monthly instalments, and we would insure his car. Unfortunately he only paid the deposit, and then failed to make any of the monthly payments”.

    “Well why didn’t you tell him then?? You can’t just cancel the policy without telling him!! He’s been driving with no insurance for months!! You think he’d do that knowingly??!!”

    “Sir”, I said, “this is how we went about telling your son we were cancelling the policy. After the first monthly payment was rejected by your son’s bank because he didn’t have enough money in his account, we wrote to him to tell him he needed to contact us straight away to rectify this. We didn’t hear from him. When the second monthly payment also failed, we wrote to him again, this time warning him that continued non-payment would result in us cancelling his policy. Still we didn’t hear from him. We wrote to him for a third time, this time by recorded delivery, and our system shows that letter was signed for at your address, and we advised him that if he didn’t contact us within 7 days, we would cancel the policy. Still we didn’t hear from him. Instead of waiting 7 days, like we had said, we actually waited 16 days before writing to him again, again by recorded delivery, telling him his policy would be cancelled if he didn’t contact us immediately. When we still didn’t hear from him, we wrote to him a 5th and final time, again by recorded delivery, telling him his policy was now cancelled, reminding him it is an offence under the Road Traffic Act to drive or keep a vehicle on a public road without adequate insurance cover, and asking for our certificate back”.

    “Aside from all of our letters”, I told the father, “do you really think your son didn’t know, for all these months, that his bank account didn’t have any money in it and that none of his direct debits were getting paid? Each month that we tried and failed to collect the insurance premiums, his bank will have written him a letter telling him they’ve had to refuse our direct debit. His monthly statement would also have told him his account was empty. Do you think he didn’t know that he couldn’t use his chequebook, or his debit card, or make any cash withdrawals from ATMs?”

    “Sir, with all due respect, it’s not a coincidence that it’s you on the phone to me, shouting at me in indignation, not your son. He already knew he had no cover, and that’s why he’s now sitting in the corner of the room, letting you do all the talking”.

    “Did you know you didn’t have cover??”” the man shouted at his son. “Wait until I get my hands on you boy…..” click. Burr.

  10. #10
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    lol, some good ones there.

    I had a hassle years ago explaining how my car (Cinquecento in the pic - black) was facing the same way as the car I hit. My insurance company just couldn't understand that the car had spun in mid air after hitting a car near head on at 60 mph:


    Took nearly 3 months to sort it out, only helped by the fact that nearby CCTV (requested the day after the crash) was finally handed to the police.

    I also had problems with the same car when a securicor lorry side swiped the car (same one) it destroyed the drivers side (smashed drivers wheel in two!). When I went to collect the car it was the first time they must have driven it anywhere other than back and forth in the workshop, the steering column snapped and bits fell out onto the floor when they pulled it outside, the insurance company refused to pay to fix the car, which left the garage to foot the bill as I refused to accept a knackered car back. I think it cost them about 800 quid in all (I actually felt sorry for them as the bodywork repair was flawless)

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