5 Outrageous Car Insurance Claims People Actually Filed

INSURANCE - CAR INSURANCE
Truth can be stranger than fiction when people file claims on their auto insurance.
Updated April 3, 2023
Fact checked
Woman calling road assistance

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Most of us never have to make an auto insurance claim beyond the routine fender-bender, thankfully. But occasionally events transpire that make a driver glad that they shopped for the best car insurance.

Read about these strange situations that turned into bizarre car insurance claims.

Camp gear burned to a crisp

dvande/Adobe travel trailer camping in the woods at Branched Oak Lake State Park Nebraska

A summer camp filed a claim for a van full of campers’ clothes and other gear that burned to a crisp when the aging van caught fire. 

The gear-filled van was being driven from one campsite to another by a counselor when smoke started pouring out from under the hood. The counselor pulled over and got out of the van, and the whole van suddenly became engulfed in flames, burning the backpacks full of clothes, shoes, and other camping paraphernalia.

No humans were harmed in the fire, although the van was a total loss. Fortunately, the tents, cooking equipment, and actual campers were in other vans and weren’t affected.

Imagine the adjuster who was sent out to inspect all the charred debris of the former gear in the former van. The camp’s vehicle insurance policy denied the claim, so the campers had to claim the losses on their homeowners’ policies.

The phantom dent

PiyawatNandeenoparit/Adobe Backside of new silver car get damaged by accident

A woman in Ohio was parked in a shopping mall parking lot and started backing out of her spot when suddenly she was slammed from behind by a minivan. The minivan driver was a grandmother who had taken her toddler granddaughter to the mall and then buckled the toddler into the car seat to leave and drive home.

As the grandmother started backing out, she realized the toddler had unbuckled herself and was bouncing around loose in the back seat. She became so distracted that she reversed too quickly and hit the victim’s car, leaving a significant dent in the bumper. 

There was no doubt who bore the responsibility for the dent, so the grandmother’s insurance agreed to pay the victim to have the dent repaired.

The victim deposited the check from the insurance company and scheduled the repair with the body shop for the day after she returned from a business trip, then parked her car in long-term parking at the airport and made her trip. When she returned and retrieved her car, the dent was gone. Only a small scratch remained where the huge dent had been.

It turned out that the weather had gotten so hot and humid, and the temperature on the deck of the long-term parking garage was so high that the plastic of the car’s bumper had softened and popped the dent out on its own. Physics defeats physics. And the victim had to return the insurance check.

Changing the story to re-file

JustLife/Adobe man talking on phone at work

An auto insurer received a claim for hail damage to a car that seemed suspicious to the company’s adjuster who inspected the damage. 

The adjuster observed that the dents in the car looked far too symmetrical and identical to have been caused by a natural substance falling from the sky. He denied the claim, saying that the damage looked like it had been caused by a ball-peen hammer.

The insurer thought that the claimant would know that they’d been caught lying about the damage and would accept being rejected so they wouldn’t be accused of insurance fraud.

However, the claimant responded to the rejected claim by filing a police report that some unknown person must have come to their driveway and hit the roof and windshield of their car repeatedly with a ball-peen hammer.

Since the insurer couldn’t prove that the claimant had caused the damage on their own — and there was no way to prove that some unknown person hadn’t come and hammered the car repeatedly — the insurance company was forced to pay out the claim.

The most interesting aspect of the story — aside from the obvious lie — is that paying out the claim hinged on the insurer being able to prove that something didn’t happen, not the claimant proving that something did happen.

Top Credit Cards for Saving on Gas 

Scattershot

Africa Studio/Adobe Bullets and gun on gray table

An insurance agent received a claim from a client who had been driving around with his loaded shotgun in his pickup truck. The client stopped the truck, and as he was taking the gun out of the pickup truck, he dropped the gun, scattering bullets all over the interior of the truck when it hit the ground. 

The client filed a claim for damage to the dashboard, head liner, and seat coverings. It was lucky there was no one else in the cab of the pickup at the time the gun was dropped.

Carjackers aren’t covered by your policy

highwaystarz/Adobe car thief trying door handle to see if vehicle is unlocked

An insurance agent in Texas reported a claim by client A that client B had hit his car with her car in a shopping mall parking lot. Happens every day.

The insurance agent investigated and found that A had been parked at the mall, while B had been driving down the aisles looking for an open spot. As she was looking for a spot, a carjacker forced her out of her vehicle and attempted to drive away with her car. B alerted mall security, who chased the carjacker, and the carjacker lost control of the car and crashed into A’s parked car, then left B’s car and attempted to escape on foot.

When the insurance agent submitted the claim for damage to A’s car, the insurer rejected the claim, because the carjacker wasn’t driving B’s car with permission, therefore he wasn’t covered for damage to other vehicles under B’s policy. 

It turns out that A had been looking for ways to save on car insurance and had elected not to have collision coverage, so his policy didn’t cover the damage to his car, either.

Bottom line

megaflopp/Adobe Woman agent filling out insurance claim form

Auto insurance is usually pretty straightforward, and accident and damage claims can be simple to claim and investigate. But these weird claim situations show that being an auto insurance agent isn’t always a routine job.

Maintaining the most complete coverage possible is also one of the best ways to reduce your financial stress if you need to file a claim.

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Author Details

Elizabeth Rollins Elizabeth Rollins has degrees in literature and business, and she's combined these loves into a career in writing about personal finance. Her special areas of interest are debt, value, budgeting, education, and retirement.

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