Be careful of those cows!
Insurance. We think you’ll agree that it’s a pretty simple idea. But, when you think about it, it really represents one of life’s enduring paradoxes - a situation where you voluntarily pay money while, at the same time, hoping that you're wasting it. Why? Because to hope the opposite is to hope for something to go wrong – for only then will you see a (financial) return on your investment.
Of course, many – indeed, probably most - people don't end up ‘wasting‘ their money because, at some time or another, they’ll need to make a claim. Often, these claims are a result of fairly ‘ordinary’ (though still serious) affairs such as accidents or theft. And such claims are, usually, accepted and paid – in fact, one of the UK’s biggest insurers, Aviva, has reported that it accepted 96% of the claims it received in 2019, collectively worth more than £3.8 billion.
But, every once-in-a-while, insurance companies find themselves faced with claims which aren’t quite so ordinary. Indeed, some of them seem like scenarios more likely to be found in a Dick Dastardly cartoon, rather than real life. Strange doesn’t quite say it. Still, that doesn’t make them any less important to the claimant, and insurance companies have to assess them with due seriousness. Often they stump up. Here are five of the weirder car-related claims that have been settled by insurers in recent years.
To technical experts, a Smurf attack is an attempt to hack a computer network. But there’s another – more literal – form of Smurf attack, as James and Mary White found out one day, when they had just parked their Honda Civic. Before they could get out of it, a flat-bed lorry with a carnival float on its back (consisting of a giant fibreglass Smurf and a wooden house) took a corner too quickly and the Smurf came detached. It rolled off the lorry and onto the couple’s car, trapping them inside. Fortunately, they were OK. The incident must have raised a smile with the claim handlers in the insurance company - but it paid out nonetheless!
Being rear-ended – a whole new meaning
We’ve all misplaced our mobile phone at some point, haven’t we? And, often, we find it by calling it from another number. At least, that’s what livestock farmer Ron McIntyre did, on the occasion he lost his phone while calving on a dark and stormy night in October 2017. Imagine his surprise when a few seconds after his wife dialled his number from her phone, he heard the vague sound of his own ringtone coming from inside one of his cows – somehow, the phone had been sucked up by the rear end of the animal (he had been using it as a torch). Well, he somehow (don’t ask) recovered the device, but it no longer worked properly. The insurance company paid out in full.
Mike had been doing some Christmas shopping, and was driving home in his Peugeot 108. Suddenly, a Christmas tree, which had been badly tied to the roof of an oncoming car, came free of its moorings and launched straight onto his bonnet. The huge dent it caused was just part of the damage – most resulted from the fact that Mike drove into a hedge while attempting evasive action. However, Mike’s insurance company paid out in full – plus, he got to keep the tree as its owners never claimed it back. Is that what they call a special tree-t?
A very close couple
Picture the scene: a Leicester shopping mall car park, in 2018. Two shoppers arrive at the same parking space at the same time, and neither wants to give way to the other. So they both slowly nose their cars in, between the already-parked cars. After a few minutes, they’re both parked, with no accidents – whoopee! Except there was one minor problem - they were packed in so tightly that they couldn’t drive back out again, or open their doors to get out. The fire brigade had to rescue the hapless pair in front of a large crowd that had gathered to enjoy the fun. Perhaps surprisingly, the insurance company paid for the resulting damage to their cars – but not to their pride.
No accounting for taste
Here’s a question: How many teeth does a cow have at the front of the top part of her mouth? Answer: none. Zero. Zilch. Diddly-squat. Instead, she has a tongue that’s so abrasive, it does the work of teeth. To eat, she rips apart tall grass with her tongue. And here’s another fact about cows: they have a taste for lead – they’re often to be found licking grease from machinery and chewing on lead plumbing and batteries. So much so, in fact, that lead poisoning can be a significant problem with cattle. Now, we can hear you saying: OK, that’s fascinating, but what has it got to do with insurance claims? Well, if – like Dennis Crowthorne – you had left your almost-new Renault Captur on the edge of a field full of cows while you went for an afternoon stroll, you might not be asking that question. He returned, after an hour and a half away, to find that they had licked, using their sandpaper tongues, one side of the vehicle down to the bare metal. He claimed for a full respray – and the insurer paid up.
And that’s it for now. We hope these slightly crazy claims amused you for the duration of a tea break. But, if you’ve still got a couple of gulps of your cuppa left, you might want to check out the DesperateSeller.co.uk used cars section. You’ll find lots of great deals!