Nine wacky home insurance claims

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Stories of pets running amok are commonplace, and there’s very little that surprises our claims team when we hear from customers. Some stories we’ve heard from the other side of the Atlantic, however, do raise an eyebrow or two…

We can’t be sure if some of them are urban legends, but either way they serve as a reminder to ensure you have the right home insurance cover*…and to employ a little common sense around the house.

*If you’re wondering what your Admiral buildings and contents insurance covers, you can find answers to most of your questions in your policy booklet or documents. Otherwise, give us a call.

1. Bright spark

A lawyer in North Carolina thought he’d found a loophole when he insured two dozen expensive cigars on his home insurance. Worth $15,000, they were covered against flooding, storm damage, and – believe it or not – fire.

He enjoyed smoking them and a month later filed a claim, stating that they had been destroyed in “a series of small fires”. The insurers refused to cough up, but a judge sided with the lawyer and the insurer made a pay-out. The lawyer was immediately arrested and sentenced to 24 months in prison… for arson.

2. Cooking up a story

A Delaware man claimed his home – and his prized soft-top car, parked outside – went up in flames after a small stove-top fire spiralled out of control.

The fire spread from one pan to a second; he threw one out of the door, which unfortunately landed in the back seat of his convertible; and, while en route to dispatch the second through another door, he tripped and sent it tumbling onto his sofa.

It sounds unbelievable – and the police agreed. He pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, lost his house and car, and was sentenced to five years’ probation.

3. Snowballing costs

Students in Portland, Oregon rejoiced when a snowstorm caused classes to be cancelled, passing the time by building an enormous snowball.

They successfully created a half-tonne ball of ice, which promptly rolled down a hill, wiping out a wall at their nearby halls of residence. Luckily, the university’s insurance took care of the significant bill.

4. Feeling blue

‘Blue ice’ is sewage that has leaked from an airplane’s waste system, freezing on its way back down to earth. These chunks of frozen waste land with enough force to punch holes through roofs and damage the interior of homes. It’s rare, but there are documented reports in New York, California and Canada.

Gross.

5. Instant karma

A man in Washington State nearly got a taste of his own medicine when he attempted to kill a spider with a makeshift blowtorch.

Using a cigarette lighter and a can of hairspray, he promptly set fire to his towels and the bathroom went up in flames. His insurance claim was refused because it was deemed a ‘deliberate act’.

6. Steam power

There’s a good reason boiler repairs are best left to the experts. One have-a-go hero discovered this the hard way when his bodged attempt at fixing his water heater destroyed his house. As the heating came on that evening, built-up pressure was unable to escape, rocketing the tank out through the roof and into the street.

Unbelievably, he was covered in full. It’s such a legendary story that his insurer used it in a national advertising campaign.

7. Talking turkey

A Rhode Island homeowner returned home after work to find her carpets, furniture and electronics destroyed by an apparent leak.

She found the culprit in the bathroom: a wild turkey, who had entered through a window and somehow managed to turn on a tap. Her insurer forked out for the resulting water damage, running to several thousand dollars.

8. Stake dinner

A couple returned to their South Carolina lake house and were distraught to discover the interior ransacked, with a ceramic duck figurine among the casualties. They assumed squatters or vandals had broken in, but soon realised nothing was missing.

They quickly discovered a family of local raccoons living in their bedroom. They had chewed their way in through the wooden floorboards, making a meal of several interior walls in the process. The insurer paid out in full.

9. Chemistry lesson

A hapless homeowner set her washing machine on a hot water cycle before leaving for a pampering weekend with her girlfriends. Unfortunately, the machine stuck on, sending a constant stream of steam into her kitchen all weekend and causing substantial destruction. She duly submitted a claim for water damage.

Her insurer attempted to refuse the claim, stating that ‘steam damage’ was not covered. But a judge pointed out that steam is just water in a different chemical state, ordering them to cough up.

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