AutoInsurance.com
November 22, 2022

The Craziest Car Insurance Claims

Note to self: Beware of turkey vultures.

Most car insurance claims are pretty banal: hail damage, a rear-end, or a total loss in the most extreme cases. But when people submit fake car insurance claims to get paid, that’s where things start to get interesting. And some real claims are too bizarre to make up! We asked major auto insurance companies about the weirdest insurance claims they’ve received, and the results were downright hilarious. Enjoy these crazy insurance stories!

Let the Rain Fall Down

When one Mercury Insurance policyholder tried to fake water damage, Pete Galassi, a special investigations unit manager, was skeptical. He decided to investigate. Galassi told us:

“A Mercury policyholder claimed she was driving during a heavy rainstorm when her windows and sunroof suddenly opened. Making the situation even worse, her car then stalled and she was unable to restart it, resulting in a flooded interior.

However, the first problem, and one of many inconsistencies uncovered in her claim, is that rainfall amounts for the date of her alleged loss were minimal. The investigator who examined the 2011 BMW 550i noted [that] although the carpet was soaked and there was pooled water on the floor, there was no swampy smell or evidence of debris in the car due to supposed heavy rain. Additionally, BMW had not issued any recalls for electrical malfunctions of windows or sunroofs.

The vehicle successfully started when the key was turned in the ignition, and the investigator was able to open and close the windows and sunroof numerous times without incident. Forensics determined the insured’s car had been filled with tap water, not rainwater. The insured had stated her BMW was worth $46,000, but the bill of sale showed it was actually purchased for $29,000.

And the final nail in the coffin? The insured’s boyfriend’s mother had filed a similar claim the previous year due to damage from snow. Needless to say, the insured’s claim was denied.”

Flood damage is a real thing, part of comprehensive coverage if you choose to carry it, but it has to be real, of course, in order to get a reimbursement.

CheckNOTE

No state requires comprehensive coverage, but if you choose to buy it, it’ll cover damages from noncollision accidents like natural disasters, inclement weather, theft, and vandalism.

Fake Rear-End

Galassi recalled another memorable incident, a property damage liability claim that felt anything but believable. He shared:

“In another circumstance, a Mercury policyholder was stopped at an intersection in front of a repair van when, suddenly, the two vehicles collided. Police were called to the scene to gather statements for what appeared to be a rear-end collision. The insured driver and passenger claimed the van driver had rear-ended them and both were allegedly injured.

However, the van driver adamantly denied this assertion, leading the investigating officer to seek surveillance video of the incident. A nearby gas station captured it all on tape, much to the insured’s dismay. The footage showed that, instead of proceeding through the intersection as expected, she threw her vehicle into reverse, slamming into the front of the van.

The insured driver and her passenger were subsequently charged with insurance fraud and conspiracy. The driver was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon – her car. The claim was obviously denied.”

Angry Birds

When behind the wheel, you have to worry about road rage, distracted drivers, and … birds? Caroline Morganelli, a spokesperson for Plymouth Rock Assurance, told us about the latest road hazard you should be aware of:

“A few years ago, one of our insureds parked their car in a New Jersey mall parking lot only to return later to find their car being ‘attacked’ by turkey vultures. When the real-life Angry Birds finally flew away, the vehicle was covered in deep scratches and small dents.

While surprised, the insured had the wherewithal to whip out their camera and actually took pictures of the vultures attacking their car. Thanks to their quick thinking, we had photographic evidence of the vulture vandalism and covered the claim without question.”

Caught on Tape

If you total your car, new car replacement coverage will cover the cost of buying a new car. However, first, you must meet the total loss threshold, which differs by state1. One Plymouth Rock policyholder tried to take advantage of this insurance coverage, according to Morganelli. She explained:

“We’ve had people do some crazy things to try to ‘total’ their vehicle. A few years back, someone reported their car stolen. A short time later, it was recovered with significant damage.

Upon our investigation, we soon learned that the car owner had actually driven his vehicle to a vacant parking lot, and then had a friend come over and ram a large van into his car. Afterward, the insured jumped into the large van and two individuals drove off together.

How did we figure this all out? The vacant parking lot had a security camera. It was all caught on tape!”

CheckFYI

The total loss threshold is the value of the damage versus the value of the car. So, for example, if the total loss threshold is 70 percent, the damages must be worth 70 percent or more for the vehicle to be declared a total loss.

Conclusion

Insurance fraud is shockingly common, affecting about 10 percent of all property and casualty insurance losses. However, its true cost is paid by the rest of the U.S. consumers, who face higher insurance costs to mitigate these losses, to the tune of more than $308 billion2.

Moral of the story? When it comes to auto insurance claims, honesty is by far the best policy.

Citations

  1. Total Loss Threshold by State. Appraisal Engine. (2022)
    https://totallossappraisals.com/total-loss-threshold-by-state/

  2. Fraud Stats. Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. (2022)
    https://insurancefraud.org/fraud-stats/