- A supercharged, wheel-spinning demolition
- A rodent desperate to get behind the wheel
- His cousin abroad who just wanted a bite to eat
We asked underwriters who work on the LV= home insurance, car insurance and travel insurance products for the most unusual claims they had received. The stories we uncovered reveal, if anything, that one particular wildlife critter can be a real nuisance, and there’s more evidence that safe driving is the way forward.
Fluffy tail, sticky fingers
Nicole Rathbone, claims manager at LV=, recalls an incident involving some woods, some trees and a tree dweller.
‘A customer was playing golf and had his car keys in his golf bag,’ she says. ‘A squirrel jumped out of the trees nearby and into the bag, coming out with the keys!
‘I believe the claim went to indemnity for review, but it was paid.’
Squirrels may seem sweet and innocent, but studies have actually revealed that they have a tendency to steal – especially from each other.
Have you ever noticed how nervy squirrels are when burying their nuts? That’s because they know that a pair of eyes could be watching from the tree tops, as another squirrel waits to steal their dinner.
In fact, a 2009 study by the University of Exeter discovered that squirrels quickly learn to steal from each other in order to survive.
A front porch for a pit stop
General insurance household underwriter Jacqui Carter recalls a recent claim she received, which made it into the news.
‘One of our customer’s houses was hit by a McLaren supercar, causing around £120k of damage to the home,’ reveals Jacqui. ‘The £143,000 car left the road at speed, went through the customer’s hedge and fence, and hit a utility pole in mid-air, causing the pole to break in half, with one section of the pole smashing into the property.
‘The car then crashed into the dining room window before spinning round, destroying the porch and then catching fire! Thankfully, the driver and passenger escaped with just minor injuries, and no one in the house was hurt. It even made BBC News.
‘Of course,’ adds Jacqui, ‘we weren’t insuring the car that hit the house – just the house. We were able to uphold the claim.’
Holey holiday clothes
Unbelievably, Nicole’s claim wasn’t the only animal-related incident; David Vincent, travel and pet underwriting manager, also received a customer claim after yet another squirrel had caused a nuisance.
‘While on holiday in Tanzania, the policyholder had stored his clothes in a cupboard in the hotel,’ says David. ‘A squirrel managed to get into the cupboard and chewed holes in the policyholder's jacket, shoes and T-shirts.
‘There was some contention as to whether an African squirrel would be regarded as vermin and therefore fall within an exclusion under the policy, but after deliberation we agreed to cover the claim.’
There are a number of species of squirrel native to Tanzania, including ground squirrels, sun squirrels, bush squirrels and even giant squirrels.
Squirrelling away the things you care about won’t necessarily keep them safe from every unusual risk the world could throw at you. But with the right insurer and an underwriter who’s willing to listen to and assess astonishing claims, you could protect your home, your car, your holiday – and even your clothes.