What links a tourist who lost 84 kilograms of Bombay mix on holiday with another who had his camera stolen by a monkey? Both are among the more unusual claims received by travel insurance companies. Times Money has trawled through the files of some of the UK’s biggest insurers to bring you the 25 most bizarre travel insurance claims ever. Here they are…
1. One thing you don’t expect when you go on holiday is to be harassed by a monkey. One British traveller in Gibraltar, however, was so besieged by the attentions of an over-friendly primate that he asked his insurer to refund the cost of his trip. The insurer refused but did pay out for his camera, which the monkey had run off with one evening.
2. Monkeys also blighted the romantic getaway of a couple in Malaysia, who foolishly left the window to their chalet open during the day. They returned to find their underwear, clothing and belongings strewn across the resort and neighbouring rainforest. Luckily for the clothes-less couple, their insurer paid the claim.
3. One unlucky pensioner managed to lose his false teeth after throwing up over the side of a cruise ship on the choppy seas of the Bay of Biscay. Thankfully for the squeamish septuagenarian, his misplaced dentures were covered in his travel insurance policy under lost baggage, so his claim was paid.
4. Another unfortunate pensioner had to make an even more embarrassing travel claim after a stroll on the deck of a cruise ship went disastrously wrong. The poor gentlemen was chatting with friends when a strong gust of wind lifted his toupee off his head and blew it into the sea. He never got over the shame but at least his travel policy reimbursed the cost of his hairpiece.
5. It is all too easy to lose your sunglasses, or even your passport, on holiday. Less easy, you might think, to misplace 34 large bags of Bombay mix. Yet one holidaymaker claimed he had lost £300-worth of the spicy snack while in Europe. At roughly 89p for a 250g bag, the misplaced mix would have weighed a hefty 84 kilograms. Needless to say, his insurance company turned him down.
6. It is a good idea to keep your wallet secure at all times when you are away, as one careless Briton discovered to his cost in Israel. The holidaymaker accidentally dropped his wallet down a drain in Natanya. However, his claim wasn’t for his lost credit cards or cash. It was for hospital treatment after being stung by a poisonous scorpion while reaching down into the drain to get his possessions back. Thankfully, his travel insurance covered the cost of treatment.
7. A holidaymaker in Spain lost his camera after setting it down beside him on a park bench. The strap, hanging tantalisingly down over the edge of the seat, caught the attention of a passing dog, which grabbed it and ran off with the camera. His insurer paid for a new camera under accidental damage.
8. One family camping in a remote field in Wales had their peace disturbed when a parachutist from a nearby airbase missed his target and scored a direct hit, landing on their tent and destroying their camping equipment. Sadly, the family weren’t covered for accidental damage so their insurer didn’t reimburse them.
9. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your children are playing on the beach and they think it would be fun to bury your camcorder worth £600. Thankfully, when this happened to a family in Cornwall, their insurer saw the funny side and refunded the cost.
10. Police in a holiday resort in France were on the lookout for a wrinkle-free burglar after a woman who had her cosmetics bag stolen from her hotel room admitted that she had transferred medical-strength haemorrhoid cream into an empty tub of moisturiser earlier in the holiday. Her claim for make-up, lotions and perfume was paid.
11. A holidaymaker who was refused entry to a plane at Manchester Airport had his travel-insurance claim for holiday cancellation declined after it emerged that he had actually booked a flight from Manchester, New Hampshire, USA.
12. Mis-reading your flight details is easy to do, usually necessitating a frantic rush to the departure gate. But one family that turned up late for their flight had no such panic. Their plane had departed the previous month. They were denied compensation from their travel insurer.
13. A holidaymaker who arrived in a ski resort only to find that there was not enough snow, claimed for the cost of the brand new skis she had bought before leaving the UK. Unsurprisingly, the insurer rejected her claim.
14. A man walking along the street in Greece became so transfixed by two bikini-clad girls that he walked straight into a glass-panelled bus shelter and broke his nose. He successfully claimed on his travel insurance for his hospital bills.
15. The fairytale wedding day for a British couple on a West Indian beach went up in smoke after the bride’s dress caught fire from a brick of coal that fell from the BBQ. The quick-thinking groom picked up his now blazing bride, ran along the beach and tossed her into the ocean. They were able to claim on their travel insurance policy for the ruined wedding outfits as they had taken out wedding cover before jetting off.
16. Another couple stayed in a Parisian hotel room infested with fleas. After two days of itching and scratching, the pair cut their trip short and returned home, where they hastily burnt all their clothes on a bonfire. However, their claims for replacement wardrobe were rejected.
17. A traveller who lost his bag on holiday claimed only for its contents: a bottle of water, a newspaper and a packet of mints. With an excess on his insurance policy of £50, his claim was rejected.
18. When you’re holidaying in the Black Forest, it’s not thieves that you need to watch out for. One family left the door to their chalet open and came home to find that their wallets and passports had been eaten by a greedy goat, who had also chomped through some sandwiches that had been sitting on the kitchen table. The family’s claim for cost of new passports and wallets was rejected.
19. Sometimes Dads don’t always know best. A resourceful father whisked his teenage daughter to a local hairdresser, after she frazzled her hair on the oven in their holiday apartment in Spain. The result was hardly the work of Mr Toni and Mr Guy, leaving the girl running in tears from the salon. The dad tried, but failed, to claim the cost of the disastrous haircut from his insurance policy.
20. A chilled-out traveller in Sri Lanka needed £400 worth of hospital treatment after a large, ripe coconut fell from a tree and landed squarely on her head while she was peacefully reading below. She was knocked out cold, which is hardly surprising. Fresh coconuts weigh roughly 2 kilograms, and the trees grow up to 30 metres tall. The coconut would have been falling at 53 miles per hour when it hit the poor woman on the skull. Her insurer covered her medical expenses.
21. Meanwhile Direct Line received a claim for two lost coconuts from a couple who returned home from a holiday in Mauritius. As a coconut costs just 69p (from your local Tesco), the claim was rejected. The couple’s excess on their policy meant they would have paid for the first £50 of the cost of any claim.
22. A customer submitted a claim for a “guitar made out of a pumpkin”. The slightly baffled staff at Direct Line were forced to reject the claim.
23. The clue was in neon lights above the door. A young party animal in Greece got badly burnt when she tried to order a cocktail in local hangout called “Fire Bar”. Ignoring the loud warning buzzer, and the disappearance of her fellow drinkers, she stood firmly at the bar waiting to be served when it suddenly became engulfed in flames. She received third degree burns to her hands, and successfully claimed £300 worth of medical expenses.
24. A British backpacker was chased down the street by an angry bull in Kerala, Southern India. It wasn’t clear from his claim whether he provoked the animal, but he did require £2,800 worth of hospital treatment after the attack, which was reimbursed by his travel insurer.
25. Finally, according to one long-serving insurance underwriter, there have been more Rolex Oyster watches, worth upwards of £1,000, recorded as lost in the Costa Del Sol in the Spain than have ever been manufactured.