Car insurers receive calls every day from drivers who have suffered fender benders while pulling out of the supermarket parking lot, or returned to their cars to find dents in the door thanks to careless neighbors. And theft is also a frequent reason for an insurance claim: In
2012, about 721,053 motor vehicle thefts occurred in the United States, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
However, in some cases, insurance claims are made for reasons that are nearly too absurd to be believed. Here are six crazy car insurance claims that policyholders have filed.
1. If at first you don't succeed…: Two-time insurance fraud
One Block and Hyland auto insurance policyholder filed a claim for body damage to his car in the aftermath of a hailstorm in the 1990s. However, when an insurance adjuster went to inspect the man's vehicle, he became suspicious: The adjuster believed the damage to the car was too neat to have been caused by hail. Instead, he believed someone had repeatedly hit the top of the car with a ball-peen hammer.
The insurance company expected that the policyholder would drop the claim once he'd been caught in a lie, but the vehicle owner was bolder than expected. Instead of dropping the issue altogether, he filed a police report to claim that someone had beaten his car with a ball-peen hammer. While Block and Hyland had major suspicions about his story, the company couldn't prove he was the one who had inflicted the damage, and it was forced to pay the claim.
2. In the hot seat
An incident in 2010 involved Kurt Browning, the Canadian figure-skating champion, and his prized Porsche. After getting his floor mats wet, he placed a leaf blower on the back seat of the car, turned it on, and went back into his house while leaving his Porsche in the garage. Though he checked on the mats from time to time, he found himself in for a surprise when he went to his car again after hearing a noise: The leaf blower had set the back seat of his car on fire. Worse, the fire soon took over the garage and then the entire house. At least 10 fire trucks came to the scene, but the house and car were both severely damaged: According to news reports, the house suffered around $1 million in losses.
3. Does this motorcycle look like a couch?
Joseph Morning, from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., parked his motorcycle in the same spot in front of his house every day, sheathing it with a motorcycle cover to protect it from the elements. But one day, his girlfriend noticed the bike was missing, and she started asking the neighbors if they had seen anything.
Turns out, it hadn't been stolen: The garbage collectors had taken it with the day's trash. One of the garbage collectors had claimed that “when he picked it up, it was so heavy, he thought it was a couch," according to the local TV station, WTVD-TV. Morning went to the town dump and saw the bad news firsthand: His bike had been crushed in the trash compactor.
Morning didn't want to file an insurance claim for the waste collector's mistake. Policyholders who file a claim -- even when they're not at fault -- still pay a deductible and may see a jump in rates. After Morning brought his case to the local media, the city filed their own insurance claim, agreeing to pay him a settlement fee of $11,500.
4. Breast-case scenario
Mike Dwyer, the president of the insurance company Sinclair-Dwyer and Co., recalls a surprising auto-medical payment claim from a particularly voluptuous policyholder. The woman was attempting to get out of the car when she shut the door on her left breast, with her keys still inside the car. A passerby helped her retrieve her keys, and she was able to drive herself to the hospital, where she received a few stitches and was treated for bruising. The insurance company paid out her claim for $3,800 in medical bills.
5. How well will an elephant fit?
In the United Kingdom, one driver made the mistake of leaving his lunch on the seat next to him while a circus trailer passed his parked car. A hungry elephant traveling with the circus spotted the sandwich, and grabbed it with his trunk. However, the trunk turned out to be a tight squeeze, breaking the driver's window panel. The elephant likely didn't have an insurance policy of his own, but the angry driver sought to hold the circus responsible for the damage to his car (and maybe the missing sandwich, too).
6. Just kid-ding
A family in South Carolina kept a classic 1965 Ford Mustang stored in their garage, along with their kids' bicycles. They opted to leave the garage door open for their son's birthday party so the children could use the bicycles as they pleased. Unfortunately, some other kids came to visit, too: The neighbors' goats sneaked out of their pen and wandered into the garage, where they jumped all over the car and chewed on it. Fortunately, the Mustang owners were able to report the livestock damage and collect on their insurance claim from Hagerty Insurance.