Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Now Santa gets the insurance treatment

There are times when I despair with my industry. Togther with their cohorts the health and safety police, our insurance underwriters have a significant impact on the day to day running of business - and on the day to day running of our own individual lives.

So, it probably should come as no surprise to hear that the Health & Safety/Insurance alliance has now targetted Father Christmas! This report was from today's Daily Telegraph:

They have told one Santa that he must be strapped into a full body harness in case he falls out of his sleigh as it is towed by a Land Rover at the gentle speed of five miles an hour.

Meanwhile, another has been forced to abandon his sleigh altogether, and travel on a rather less magical bus.

Members of the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club were told that they would have to raise a four-figure sum to cover the insurance costs of a visit by Father Christmas, until he agreed to belt up.

Barry Wheeler, the president of the West Midlands club, said: "Every year we have made sure Santa gets to go through the town and wave to the children. It just seemed ridiculous, especially because he doesn't actually ride on the sleigh that often.

"He would be more likely to injure himself getting in and out of the sleigh than actually falling out of it."

One of the members of the club, which has been organising visits by Father Christmas for the past 20 years, has now taken the sleigh to be fitted with the harness. This means the club saved £200 on its insurance policy and could still go ahead with the event.

However, members said the tough rules took "the magic out of Christmas".

"We're going to try to make the belt as discreet as possible," said Mr Wheeler. "The sleigh ride through the towns starts in December and starts Christmas off for so many people. It would have been such a shame to see it cancelled."

Kelly Ostler, from the Association of British Insurers which represents about 400 UK insurance companies, said: "This is as much about protecting Santa from other drivers as protecting him from the speed of his own sleigh."

But Father Christmas has not been so lucky in the Northumbrian town of Alnwick. There, a 30-year tradition of visits to the town by Santa and his sleigh have been brought to an abrupt halt by a similar insurance wrangle.

As usual, the organisers - Alnwick Lions Club - planned to mount the sleigh on a district council trailer. But this year the council has ruled that using the trailer would be too dangerous because Santa is not a council employee, so he would not be covered by its insurance.

Instead, he has had to cancel the tour and will have to ride into town by bus to switch on the Christmas lights. Graham Luke, of the Alnwick Lions, told the Northumberland Gazette newspaper: "It is health and safety. We have become Americanised - that's the best way of putting it.

"It is very frustrating because it is a tradition that has been going on for so long."

An Alnwick district council spokesman said: "We always try to help with community projects, but regrettably, this is out of our hands."

Mind how you go now.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Giving the insurance industry a bad name? Bah humbug!!

Reading the Daily Mail this morning, I nearly choked on my coffee!

What on earth is the world coming to?

Apparently, Panto performers have been banned from throwing sweets into the crowd - because the health and safety police are scared of being sued!

Apparently, over sensitive theatre bosses imposed the order after two pensioners complained about being hit by bonbons during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk last year. The director then rang his public liability insurers and received some worrying news.

"They advised us that we probably wouldn't be covered in the event of someone getting hurt," said Mr Lynch, from the Pavilion Theatre in Gorleston, Norfolk.

"They suggested throwing a sweet at someone would be viewed as an act of negligence rather than a simple accident, and we would therefore be liable to pay compensation."

"We have to make sure we do not open ourselves to being sued."

Actors in this year's production of Babes in the Wood and Robin Hood will now have to drop sweets off the edge of the stage for children to pick up.

Mr Lynch said he had checked with other theatres, and found that many were also ending the practice.

This is not the first time the theatre has suffered from restrictive health and safety measures. Last month, Peter Pan was banned from flying in a musical put on by a local youth theatre group.

Roof brackets were needed to support Peter's wires and they could not be installed without the theatre undergoing a full structural survey.

You know sometimes, this industry that I love, really leaves me scratching my head!

Mind how you go now.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Insurance claim is hisss-tory!!

Taiwan police have arrested a man who allegedly used a snake bite in an insurance fraud scheme, a newspaper said Saturday. The man, a Taipei construction worker identified only as Chien, 53, claimed he was bitten by a snake in November 2006 at the home of a friend who raised snakes.

Chien was rushed to hospital by his friend and had one finger amputated.

Several months ago, Chien approached his insurance company to claim 25 million Taiwan dollars (760,000 US dollars) insurance for bodily injury.

The insurance company studied Chien's medical records and became suspicious on finding that there was only one bite mark on Chien's hand, yet tests showed there were three types of snake venom in his blood.

Another peculiarity was that after Chien was bitten, he and the friend waited three hours before rushing Chien to a hospital.

The insurance company believed Chien let one snake bite him and injected the venom of two other snakes into his hand, so that the "snake bite" would be serious enough to require his hand or arm to be amputated, so he could file a claim on an insurance policy for bodily injury.

After investigating, the insurance company alerted police, who are now set to prosecute Chien for insurance fraud.

You see, you really need to get up early in the morning to get one over the insurance industry!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Insurance claims soar for couples who can't say 'I do'

I've been in the insurance business for many years now and I have to say that, whilst I'm aware that you can purchase wedding insurance, I think I could probably count the number of policies I've sold on one hand!

So, I was interested to read that claims for this unusual class of business have soared over the last twelve months..

Being forced to postpone or call off the big day is now the most common reason people claim on wedding insurance, accounting for 47.5 per cent of all claims - up from 22 per cent during the previous 12 months.

People were more than twice as likely to claim for their nuptuals being called off as they were for damage to the bride or groom's outfits, which, at 20 per cent, was the second most common reason for a claim, according to Debenhams Wedding Insurance.

Around 15 per cent of people who claimed on their wedding insurance during the past year did so because suppliers went bankrupt or failed to deliver on time, while 7 per cent sought pay-outs over lost, damaged or stolen rings, cakes, flowers and gifts, and 5 per cent claimed over problems with cars.

Apparently though the policy excludes happy couples suffering a change of heart.

Which is just as well - otherwise we could see a raft of retrospective claims!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Most unusual claims of the year

We've always had a good relationship with our friends at Norwich Union, so I'm grateful to them for sharing with us their top ten of most unusual claims excuses received by them last year.

Number 10: "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."

Number 9: "A cow jumped on my quad bike".

Number 8: "My parked car was hit by a bull which had escaped from an agricultural show".

Number 7: "I couldn't brake because a potato was logged behind the brake"

Number 6: "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".

Number 5: "A zebra collided with my car when I was at a safari park".

Number 4: "A herd of cows licked my car and caused damage to the paintwork".

Number 3: "I was driving round a bend, when one of the doors opened and a frozen kebab flew out, hitting and damaging a passing car".

Number 2: "The car was parked when a reindeer fell on the bonnet of my car".

Number 1: "A frozen squirrel fell out of a tree and crashed through the windscreen on to the passenger seat".


Friday, 23 November 2007

Insurance claims Deer - official!

I got a note from a pal in the industry who lives in Swindon and he passed me a copy of a report in his local newspaper which had me scractching my head.

According to the report in This is Wiltshire, warnings are being issued to motorists in the New Year to slow down whilst driving in the New Forest.

The reason?


Yep, apparently, head-on collisions with deer are leading to insurance claims of more than £21 million each year across the UK.

Apparently, every year an estimated 75,000 deer are struck by cars in the UK, but Jamie Cordery, the south-east deer liaison officer for the Deer Initiative, said that, despite the high number of deaths, the population of deer in the New Forest is not yet under threat.

Well that got me thinking. And I reached for my calculator. 75,000 claims costing £21m.

That works out at £280 per claim.

For a head-on-collision.

Must be accidents involving Fiat cars then.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

More silly accidents

My, I've certainly started something now!

My piccies from last week seem to have struck a chord witrh some of my pals from the industry - and they've kindly sent me some of their favourites.

they're the kind of photos that make you want to say "Errrr .... just how did ....."!!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Monday, 12 November 2007

Let this be a lesson to you!

One of the issues that has blighted the insurance industry ever since Adam was a lad is that of fraudulent claims. Some classes of insurance, particularly travel insurance and home insurance suffer from a significant number of people trying to claim what is not rightfully theirs. There does seem to be aview that insurance can be treated as some kind of savings plan - there to be drawn upon when times are hard.

And the problem is, of course, that its the honest people who end up paying for the fraud through increased premiums.

That said, I did like this chaps ingenuity.

A bloke from Charlotte, North Carolina purchased a box of 24 rare and very expensive cigars. Wishing to protect his investment then, the man decided to insure the collection.

Against... fire.

Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of fabulous cigars, and having yet to make a single premium payment on the policy, the man decided to make a claim against the insurance company.

In his claim, the man stated that he had lost the cigars in "a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion. The man sued, and guess what?

Yep - he won.

In delivering his ruling, the judge stated that the man held a policy from the company in which it was warranted that the cigars were insurable. The company, in the policy, had also guaranteed that it would insure the cigars against fire, without defining what it considered to be "unacceptable fire," and so, the company was obliged to compensate the insured for his loss. Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judge's ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he had lost in "the fires."

However, shortly after the man cashed his cheque, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson. With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case used as evidence against him, the man was convicted of intentionally burning the rare cigars and sentenced to 24 consecutive one-year prison terms.

It could only happen in America!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Proximate cause

Those of us who have been in the insurance game know all about proximate cause. it's an old insurance definition - offically it's "The active efficient cause that sets in motion a train of events which brings about a result without the intervention of any new force starting and working actively from a new and independent source".

In other words it can be a simple accident or incident that then goes on to initiate a whole series of what would have been unrelated events.

I was reminded of proximate cause when I heard the following story from Tennessee this week.

"Things went from bad to worse and just kept going downhill from there for one Memphis, Tennessee man last week. Police arrested the unidentified man after a series of events that you generally only see in a good action movie. Here's what happened:

After the man crashed his car into a pole, he went to a nearby house and knocked on the door. When no one answered, he kicked in a window and was promptly shot by the homeowner. The man, who was bleeding, then left, but not before he removed his pants and some other articles of clothing. He showed up at a McDonald's and threw a rock through the front window. By that point, witnesses at the restaurant say the man had taken off all of his clothes, except for a shirt and his underpants. Eventually, he was taken to the hospital. Authorities plan to press charges after he checks out."

The world's gone mad!!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

And let this be a warning to you!!

So, let's get the ball rolling then!

I've spent over 40 years in this business and I reckon I've just about seen it all - unless you know better.

I'll be building up a reference dedicated to those fabulous members of the great Insured who have done their best to either beat the system - or come crashing into contact with it!

We'll start off then with those old chestnuts - and favourites - the Insurance Claim excuses. Try these for good measure.

These excuses were on accident claim forms of a major insurance company. Clients were asked for a brief statement describing their particular accident - and this is what they wrote:

1. The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intention.
2. I thought my window was down but found it was up when I put my hand through it.
3. A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.
4. The guy was all over the place. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
5. I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.
6. The accident occured when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle.
7. I was driving my car out of the driveway in the usual manner, when it was struck by the other car in the same place it had been struck several times before.
8. I was on my way to the doctor's with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way, causing me to have an accident.
9. As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.
10. The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.
11. To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.
12. My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.
13. An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle and vanished.
14. When I saw I could not avoid a collision, I stepped on the gas and crashed into the other car.
15. The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran him over.
16. I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.
17. Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have.
18. The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.
19. The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intention.
20. I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.