Don't be embarrassed to make an unusual insurance claim, Kiwis told

Don't worry how weird your claim sounds, your insurer has probably heard worse.

Don't worry how weird your claim sounds, your insurer has probably heard worse.

Damage caused by a pet rat, a stolen horse massager and a $60,000 dress ring left in a restaurant bathroom: Some of the things New Zealanders claim on their insurance policies just sound downright weird.

Simon Hobbs, head of claims for AA Insurance, said people should not worry about making a claim to their insurance company that was a bit unusual.

He said his firm saw a wide range of contents claims for damaged, lost or stolen property.

"Some customers don't make a claim because they don't realise that their more unusual items are covered under their contents insurance, or they're a little shy in telling us what's happened," he said.  

READ MORE: How to beat the nitpickers on jewellery insurance

"While claims for the really unusual items happen rarely, we're often asked by customers  if we cover certain items like heirloom or inherited pieces such as artwork, jewellery and furniture, as well as things related to a certain hobby such as collections of McDonald's, Barbie doll and Star Wars toys. We've also been asked about autographs such as those signed on a bank notes, and other memorabilia."

One claim received by AA Insurance was for a jade cabbage sculpture that suffered $1500 of damage when it was broken while being cleaned.

The metre-high sculpture was valued at up to $80,000 and was one of seven jade sculptures purchased in the USA, and specified on the customer's contents policy. The claim was covered so the leaf could be repaired.

Another customer knocked his folding electric skateboard off the table. It was a model that could not be replaced or repaired in New Zealand. He was given a cash settlement.

Hobbs said six horses benefited from the performance-enhancing powers of a horse massage rug before it was stolen from their owners' vehicle. 

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The massager, which looks like a horse cover, was left in the customer's car at a rural property, while he was out. When he returned, the $12,250 massager had been stolen along with other items including a saddle. As it was used for a hobby, rather than business purposes, it was covered in full.

The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman had also dealt with a number of unusual claims in recent years.

One claimant took a case to the Ombudsman when he was turned down for a claim after he said 19 watches that had been stolen were genuine Gucci, Rolex and Tag Heuer. They were later found to be fake and the insurer did not want to pay the claim.

The claimant's argument was not upheld by the Ombudsman.

In another case, a customer claimed that their pet rat had damaged their sofa.

The insurer did not want to pay out because of a clause in the contract that said it would not cover pest damage. The Ombudsman ruled against the insurer in that case.

One woman claimed after she lost her $63,900 dress ring at a restaurant. 

She had attended a function at a restaurant, with about 1200 other people. At about 1am, she placed the ring beside her bag on the bench in the women's bathroom at the restaurant, while she washed and dried her hands. When she went to put the ring back on her finger, she discovered it was missing.

Her insurer turned down her claim on the basis she had not taken reasonable care. The Ombudsman backed the insurer and said the claimant had been more than just careless.

"Insurance covers the unusual all the time," Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens said. "Just because something hasn't happened to you before doesn't mean that it hasn't happened to someone else, and could be a valid claim."

"Whether you are in your first home or your forever home, if you're not sure that your more unusual possessions are covered then talk to your insurer. It's recommended you specify items like art and jewellery, and for unusual items and collections it's important to have some kind of valuation or evidence of these items, to make any claims process easier," Hobbs said.

"It's also a good idea to consider where you store these items, and to take the necessary precautions to keep them safe especially if they're unique."


 - Stuff


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