5 unusual insurance situations

Strange claims and novel coverages

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Joey Held

As a writer, Joey Held has specialized in business, marketing, sports, music and insurance topics for more than a decade. He's also a podcaster …

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Renata Balasco

Senior Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Strange claims can happen— and they have

There are many common reasons why you might file an insurance claim. Perhaps you got into a fender-bender with another driver and used your coverage to receive compensation for repairs at an auto shop. Or maybe your home was hit by severe weather and damaged both a wall and some of your personal property, so you made a claim to help cover those damages.

Then there are those less-frequent occasions when you’d file a claim due to *checks notes* coconuts and monkeys? You may go your entire life without encountering one of these situations, but not everyone can be so fortunate. And just in case, it’s good to be prepared.

Without further ado, here's our list of the most unusual insurance claims and coverage throughout history.

Quit monkeying around


If you like to travel, you may, at some point, encounter an aggressive monkey. With their grasping hands and good hand-eye coordination, monkeys can quickly grab personal belongings and make off with them before you even know what happened.

Here are two things monkeys have gotten away with and how the insurance companies handled the claims: 

  • A couple was taking a trip to Bali and stopped in a temple. Unfortunately, a monkey happened to be nearby and stole the bag. A group of children witnessed the event and cornered the monkey at a cliff’s edge. The children tried to do a classic food for bag exchange, but the alarmed monkey threw the bag over the cliff. The couple’s insurance company covered the bag and everything inside.
  • After a monkey ran away with his laptop, a British man filed a claim. He wanted the entire cost of his vacation covered, but his insurance company only offered to pay for the laptop.

The next time you come across a monkey, pay close attention to your belongings.

Double your coverage

Even if you’re not a parent, you know having a child is a costly endeavor. There’s quite a bit of money to be spent between food, daycare, babysitting, diapers, education, entertainment, athletics and so much more. Having twins essentially doubles many of those costs.

New Life Agency recognized these growing pains and became the first company to offer Newborn Twins Insurance. The plan provides coverage for twins who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for U.S.-based medical insurance as non-residents. A $50,000 premium buys $1 million worth of coverage.

Multiple birth insurance is more common nowadays, but it’s still a rarity since not everyone can have twins (or triplets or quadruplets). And yes, if you’re a parent that welcomes one set of twins and later has another set, you can use the insurance multiple times.

When those twins are old enough to drive, don’t try to cut corners. In another surprising twin insurance story, a family only bought insurance for one of their 18-year-old daughters. Their reasoning: they went to the same school and shared a car, so they could both pretend to be the insured driver. 

Unfortunately, it’s also fraudulent and opens up the potential for complicated situations should either driver get in a crash.

Watch out for coconuts!

Falling coconuts are such a concern that there’s an entire “death by coconut” Wikipedia page on the topic. While coconuts can fall from trees and cause serious injury, their fatality rate isn’t nearly as high as a few urban legends have reported. Still, it’s a possible risk, and some insurance companies (such as U.K. insurance agency Travel Club) continue to perpetuate the myth that coconut injuries are ten times as likely as shark attacks.

Though he didn’t technically file an insurance claim himself, a police officer in Hawaii received $39,000 in damages after a coconut fell on his head. He was removing fronds from a public sidewalk, and the property owner was sued for failing to maintain the trees.

Be kind to your pets

Veterinary Pet Insurance offers an annual Hambone Award for the most outrageous pet insurance claim it receives in a given year. The 2012 award might take the cake (or bone) with a handful of head-scratching scenarios.

First, there’s Bayley, the Labrador puppy, who was having a fun time playing with other animals when they suddenly crashed into a 55-pound aquarium full of sea turtles. The dog needed surgical staples to treat a two-inch gash on the chest.

Meanwhile, Peanut, a dachshund-Jack Russell terrier mix, chased a skunk under the family deck. If you’ve ever owned a dachshund, you know they love to burrow. Unfortunately, Peanut got caught under the deck, and rescue workers had to destroy the family deck to find her, eventually discovering a tiny paw in the dirt. Peanut was understandably distressed but luckily recovered.

Don’t think dogs are the only culprits in insurance claims, either. A pig from Las Vegas named Crispy Bacon knocked over an entire table of pills while her owners were at work. The pig overdosed on medication, including ibuprofen and beta-blockers. Crispy spent three days dealing with drug toxicity but thankfully survived the incident.

Slip and fall scams


Have you ever slipped on something while shopping for groceries or inside a museum? You could potentially file a personal injury claim — so long as it’s a real injury, not a fake slip and fall scam.

This type of scam, where someone pretends to hurt themselves due to negligent placement of food or products, happens just about every day. One estimate puts the daily damage at $8 million.

A man tried to fake an injury by falling down an escalator casino. Another man planted lettuce on the ground so he would fall on it. One woman, a psychic, participated in multiple falls with a friend that always resulted in her hurting her nose; the two earned the nickname “the Nose Ring.” Security camera footage helped debunk their claims. 

Perhaps the most spectacular slip and fall racket comes from Isabel Parker, a grandmother who stole more than $130,000 in false insurance claims between 1993 and 2000 using slip and fall schemes. Parker participated in at least 49 such falls. 

Just in case you were thinking of trying this — don’t. It often results in jail time and substantial fines. In Parker’s situation, she pled guilty to eight counts of insurance fraud, six counts of forgery and six counts of theft by deception and related offenses. She went to jail for six months.

And as the Impractical Jokers have proved, a witness typically won’t back up your story.

You never know what life will throw your way, so it’s good to have insurance to cover yourself and your belongings in just about any situation. Want to learn more about types of personal liability coverage? Get started here.