Frozen squirrels pose car threat
06 February 2006 19:18
After a prang in your car, you pick up the phone to dial your insurer: “A frozen squirrel fell out of a tree and crashed through the windscreen on to the passenger seat,” you explain. Sounds far-fetched, but as RACHEL BULLER found out, such bizarre insurance claims are not as unusual as you might think.
You are waiting at the traffic lights, a wasp goes flying up your trouser leg, which sends your foot down on to the accelerator and crashing into the car in front….
Now imagine the red-faced call to your insurance company explaining how the damage was caused.
Bizarre as it may sound, that is just one example in a list of weird and wacky insurance claims made over the past 12 months to Norwich Union.
And while they might sound outlandish, the insurance company says that all of the claims have been verified and paid out.
Sally Leeman, a spokesman for NU, said: “We see a lot of strange claims but we were surprised at how many involved animals and food, of all things.
She said the claims, while amusing, showed how important it was to check the small print of your insurance to make sure that every eventuality was covered, and also to be constantly aware of potential problems while behind the wheel.
“A lot of people, when they are driving around, think their insurance is going to cover them for a bump in the supermarket car park, or from reversing into a lamppost, but the fact is that most policies can cover you for these sorts of problems as well.
”Although these claims are amusing on paper, at the time it was probably distressing to the motorist due to the damage to the vehicle and the fact they had been involved in an accident. I think most people would be shocked to see a zebra colliding with their car. So although I'm sure some were a bit embarrassed having to phone up and explain the strange circumstances of their claim, at the same time they ultimately want to get their car sorted.
“What this list shows is that it is essential for drivers to be constantly aware of what is around them as you never know what hazards there might be out there.”
The bizarre nature of some of the claims might raise a laugh, but to the owners of the vehicles the consequences are just as serious as the more familiar sounding prangs.
Tony Vickers, a spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said the cases showed that it wasn't just traditional factors, such as speed, that caused accidents.
“Hazard perception is one of the biggest problems and a lack of awareness on the roads can lead to unexpected accidents, although no-one would be able to predict a reindeer falling on to their bonnet.
“Some of the most important things to think about while driving are the most trivial, like a change in the shape of the shadows on the side of the road, or a slight movement in the corner of your eye. Developing your observation skills, maybe even taking an advance driving test, is an excellent idea.”
Of course it is not just the insurers who occasionally experience the more unusual side of motoring life, the breakdown drivers also get called out to some situations above and beyond the call of duty, some more serious than others.
A spokesman for the RAC said: “We've have had situations where patrols have dissuaded suicidal members of the public from taking their lives; where patrols have put their own safety at risk to protect members of the public following accidents, where patrols have stayed out in adverse weather conditions long after their shifts have ended to help members of the public. But as you will appreciate our patrols also get to see the funnier sides of life as well.”
These often involve animals, from an alligator in the boot to pets in the engine.
“RAC patrols need not only mechanical knowledge but a course in animal behaviour too,” says RAC patrol of year Jason Burrell. “I'm amazed at some of the animals we come across when attending breakdowns. In some cases the animal is merely being transported, in others the family pet has come along for the ride but in some the motorist has no idea there is an extra passenger on board.”
Here are Norwich Union's top 10 most bizarre motor insurance claims last year:
# “A frozen squirrel fell out of a tree and crashed through the windscreen on to the passenger seat.”
# “The car was parked when a reindeer fell on the bonnet of my car.”
# “As I was driving round a bend, one of the doors opened and a frozen kebab flew out, hitting and damaging a passing car.”
# “A herd of cows licked my car and caused damage to the paintwork.”
# “A zebra collided with my car when I was at a safari park.”
# “While I was waiting at traffic lights, a wasp went down my trouser leg which made me hit the accelerator and prang the car in front.”
# “I couldn't brake because a potato was lodged behind the brake.”
# “My parked car was hit by a bull which had escaped from an agricultural show.”
# “A cow jumped on my quad bike.”
# “As I came over a hill, I hit a cow in the middle of the road, which then hit the bonnet and shattered the windscreen with its rear end. The cow lived.”
Here are some of the more unusual discoveries made by RAC drivers while out on patrol:
# A patrol attended a roadside call in a dark country lane on Halloween night to find the motorist dressed as the Grim Reaper.
# A motorist put washing up liquid in his windscreen washers, then used it to top up the radiator - resulting in soap bubbles going everywhere.
# An alligator with taped up jaws managed to thump open the vehicle's rear door. The motorist was the image of Crocodile Dundee, complete with Aussie accent and hat
# A motorist locked himself out of his vehicle while locking his two Bengal tigers inside.
# A six-foot pet python slithered behind a dashboard - which had to be completely removed in order to coax the shy reptile out.
# A goat was found to be very much at home in the back of a camper van.
# A cat that always travelled with his disabled owner needed a comfort break. The patrol ended up taking the cat for a walk on a lead in the dead of night.
I like the snake behind the dash. My one friend and his girlfriend were on their way out to my party one night, and there was a baby ratcoon alongside the road sitting next to its dead mother. So they stop, the girlfriend gets out, walks near it, and it walks up to her, and she, dumbassed, puts her hands out to pick it up, well it actually doesnt bite her. So they started driving again, and she sets the coon on the passenger floor, and it climbs up in behind the dash. So they get to my place, explain the situation. So i go to the basement to grab a pair of welders gloves, and run to my room to grab a shotgun. JUST IN CASE. So i go out to the car with a electric lanter, gloves, and 12ga loaded with 00Buck. So i put my hand with a weling glove on up into the dash on the pass side, and if ya didnt know it that SOB coon latches on to the glove. Luckly i pulled my finger back before he but, cuz i think my finger tip would have been broke/bit. So i pull him out of the car, still latched onto the glove and toss the coon and glove into the yard, unsling the 12ga, and shoot the bastard. My buddies girl starts freaking out about me just killing her new pet. I look at her and say it was either that welding glove or her boyfriends hand, and the coon was prolly rabid. So she keeps bitchen, so me and "ricky" walk over to the coon. We talk for 5 mins and i explain why i shot it and that it was prolly rabid. We talk about the nice shot and that how his girl hates me now.
Moral(s) of the story: dont pick up wild animals that might give me rabies and then bring them to my house. 87% chance they will be shot if they show any sign of agression.
also dont bring your skank girlfriend over to my place if shes a anti gunner and an animal activist
best part of the night was explaining why there was a dead coon in my yard to the police after they showed up about a party in my field.
I know ima hear it from the spelling NAZIS