If your $47,000 garden gnome collection went missing, what would you do? For one homeowner faced with this exact dilemma, the answer was simple: file a homeowners insurance claim.
U.S. home insurance companies process claims for one out of every 20 insured properties every year. Insurance professionals get used to seeing the same claims over and over again, with the most common caused by water, wind and hail. But every once in a while, a crazy claim comes along that stands out from the rest. We reached out to home insurers to ask for the most memorable claims they’ve seen over the years – and you won’t believe some of the responses we received.
The Craziest Home Insurance Claims
Your home insurance typically covers damage, theft, and liability, with certain exclusions depending on the policy. However, that doesn’t mean crazy claims don’t make it through every so often. From airplanes crashing into living rooms to melted flatscreen TVs, these home insurance claims all fall under covered claims.
The Case of the Stolen Garden Gnomes
We’ve all heard stories of mischievous teenagers stealing garden gnomes as a prank. While these lawn ornaments fall under the type of personal property covered by home insurance, most homeowners wouldn’t bother filing a claim since the majority of deductibles far exceed the value of a gnome.
So you’d understand why David Baddeley, Director of Scottish Trust Deed, was surprised when a claim came across his desk for stolen garden gnomes. “But we aren’t talking about a few gnomes,” says Baddeley. “Oh no, we are talking about 403 garden gnomes to be precise, each different from the other in size and value.”
Upon further examination, the claim was legitimate; not only did the homeowner have video footage of the theft, he’d kept the receipts for each gnome he’d purchased since he began his collection in the 1960s. The total value came out to $47,000. The man was awarded the full amount, although he then faced the tedious process of replacing each gnome one by one.
Hot New Gadget
It’s hard to picture a more pleasant evening than sitting by a warm fire while enjoying one of your favorite movies. That’s exactly what one homeowner was thinking when he purchased an expensive new 60-inch flatscreen TV and hung it directly above the fireplace in his living room.
Sadly the placement wasn’t very well thought out, according to Chris Waltenbaugh, payment processing expert at Payment Depot. “Whoops! Turns out the heat from a fireplace is enough to melt a television,” says Waltenbaugh. “Fire is a covered peril and so our claims department said it would be covered.”
Upon further consideration, however, the homeowner decided not to proceed with the claim. After taking his policy deductible into consideration, the relatively low payout wouldn’t have been worth jeopardizing his positive claim history.
When Unexpected Guests Drop-In
No one likes when visitors drop in unannounced, but for Ken Johnson, it couldn’t have been more unexpected. The Connecticut resident was enjoying a peaceful evening at home when, out of nowhere, a small aircraft crashed into his living room right through the roof.
Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt; the living room was vacant at the time of the crash and the airplane’s two passengers suffered relatively minor injuries. But the damage to the property was extensive. While there’s still no word as to how much Mr. Johnson ultimately received from his insurance company, we’re sure that claim required quite a bit of explanation.
Buried Treasure at the Beach
This story is a prime example of why it’s imperative to have a policy rider that covers any fine jewelry you own with a value that exceeds standard limits. Matthew Dewen, director of FullTime Cover, recalls one customer who was on vacation with his family when his young children got ahold of some expensive jewelry – and decided to bury it in the sand.
After unsuccessfully searching for the lost items, the man filed a claim with his homeowners insurance company. He was awarded the full value of the buried jewelry to the tune of $75,000. “Someone with a metal detector on the beach would have gotten very lucky,” says Dewen.
Total Home Relocation
David Drab, owner of Strong Wall Construction, has seen all types of crazy claims – but the one that sticks out in his mind came after a tornado ripped through the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland. Drab was called out to a home in the area and arrived to find that the entire structure had been moved an entire six feet in one direction while almost remaining intact.
“It’s like those stories of old school pranks where a group of people would move someone’s car, but this wasn’t funny and it was an entire house,” says Drab. “Thankfully, tornado claims are almost always approved and this incident was no different.”
Hard Times in a Hot Tub
Liability coverage is an essential part of a home insurance policy that pays if a guest is injured while visiting your property. That’s exactly what happened to a homeowner who invited a friend over to relax in his hot tub one evening. After shutting the lights off to get a better view for stargazing, the guest slipped and fell down the steps leading up to the hot tub.
Cassie Sanchez of Farmers Insurance recalls what happened next. “[The homeowner] offered to take them to the hospital, but the friend refused because they didn’t have healthcare and were too nervous about the bills they might rack up,” says Sanchez. Later, however, the guest changed course and hired a lawyer to sue the homeowner. Farmers ended up paying $202,000 to cover their medical bills.
The Bottom Line
These crazy home insurance claims are proof that a homeowners policy is good for more than just water damage. Thankfully for these policyholders, their insurance policies were flexible enough to cover sticky situations that could have been a major financial headache.
Featured image by ferrantraite / Getty Images.