An elephant squeezed into a delivery truck, an innkeeper who injured his leg while chasing a drunk customer, and a husband who accidentally cooked his wife’s jewelry are some of the most unusual claims Aviva has ever made had to do.
The insurance giant has scoured its archives to find a “treasure trove” of claims from centuries, which is approaching its 325th anniversary on November 12, 2021.
A skipping pastor and someone struck in the eye with a champagne cork are also among the bizarre claims it recorded.
Aviva’s roots can be traced back to 1696 as a hand-in-hand Fire and Life Insurance Company.
The first policy was made on January 15, 1697 and the first claim was paid on May 11, 1697 when houses on St. Stephen’s Alley, Westminster, were “doomed by fire”.
Although the company was a fire insurer at the time, the organization evolved with the changing needs of people to cover housing, personal belongings, driving, travel, health and personal injury, pensions and investments.
Researchers found that claims for damages were popping up in the archives, especially when health and safety regulations were less comprehensive than they are today.
In 1884 a surgeon suffered a “poisoned hand” while unpacking a medicine box.
Another man injured his arm in 1888 when his finger got caught in a woman’s corset trying to save her from drowning.
That same year, £ 10 was given to someone who lost a toenail at bedtime.
Aviva said that while many of his older claims are few in detail, they also include a pastor who received £ 120 after falling while jumping in 1875.
In another case, a London hotel owner received £ 25 and 10 shillings in 1878 after being hit in the eye with a cork after opening a bottle of champagne.
And in 1887, an innkeeper was paid £ 100 after sustaining a shin injury while chasing a drunk man.
In 1888, a Dundee surgeon was awarded 15 pounds after a finger bite while examining a patient’s mouth.
If you look at 20th century claims, a window on a Morris Minor delivery truck was broken in 1934 after a circus passed by. One of his elephants stuck its trunk through the window, spotted the driver’s lunch, and ate it with a loaf of bread. Unfortunately, the elephant fit tightly in the van.
In one case in 1948, a policyholder went on vacation with his family and his wife put her jewelry in the oven for safety. When they returned, the husband lit the stove, with disastrous consequences for the jewelry.
In another case in 1948, a client alleged for burglary: “A burglar in the shape of a great terrible cat entered our house through the window (and) stole a canary worth £ 1 from the cage.”
In one case in 1975, a red set dog climbed into a car to take a nap only to turn the gear off, which meant the car rolled backwards down a slope and hit a brick goal post.
Anna Stone, archivist at Aviva, said: “It was a pleasure to have another chance to look at some of our oldest and most bizarre claims. Some of them always bring a smile to their face, but in any case, we were there to help clients when faced with the unexpected.
“Aviva’s origins can be traced back 325 years. While we were celebrating this landmark, I fondly remembered a traveling red setter and a hungry elephant – although we have to say that we still put something in our logbook, even today we still have unusual claims. “
Aviva has also been an insurer to some famous clients including Sir Walter Scott, Agatha Christie, Percy Bysshe Shelley, former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Queen Victoria and George V.
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