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Daniel T. Murray Blog: funny

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The case of the tenacious terrorist

Claims consultant Chris Tidball has worked for P&C carriers for more than 20 years, in roles ranging from claims adjusting to management. He has enough crazy claims stories to fill a  book--which, in fact, he's literally working on right now.

"Ibrahim Mohammed was a downright scary claimant," Chris recalls. Mohammed hailed from an area that was notorious for insurance fraud, where rumor had it that a lot of the fraud money was used to fund domestic and international terror cells.

Mohammed reported a stolen exotic car with expensive custom rims, that he had coincidentally purchased a rider for just a few days before the theft. The car was ultimately found, totally stripped. During investigation, the insurer tracked down the rims in the garage of a known associate of Mohammed's. 

"When we denied the claim, he threatened to bomb our claims office," Chris recalls. "We hired a security detail that stayed onsite 24/7 for about two months. I’ve had some scary situations, and this ranks right up at the top."

The case of the persistent physician 

"Dr. Katz" presented a claim for flood damage to his $200,000 Ferrari, claiming a tidal surge had reached the rocker panels and the car was totaled, Chris recalls. The insurer argued repair only and questioned the legitimacy of the claim, as there was no evidence of saltwater corrosion. 

Dr. Katz took the claim all the way to the CEO of the company "and proved that the squeaky wheel always gets greased first; we totaled the car, but also got a six-figure salvage bid," Chris says.

The case of the menacing monkey

In another Tidball tale, Chris recalls a shady body shop in Brooklyn that the insurer suspected of being behind some air bag thefts. 

"When I confronted the shop manager, he sicced his monkey on me," he says. "He had an actual pet monkey that was really mean and very aggressive."

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Like emergency room doctors, cops and priests in the confessional booth, insurance people are being asked to clean up the messes that people make--and worse, they’re expected to pay for them.

It’s little wonder that veteran insurance people can get a bit jaded. When it comes to claims--and human nature--they have seen everything.

We spoke with several long-time insurance professionals about the weirdest claims they’ve come across in their careers. Here are some of the strangest.

(Got a crazy claim story? Contact us!)

1. The case of the vanishing gold bars

Claims consultant Chris Tidball has worked for P&C carriers for more than 20 years, in roles ranging from claims adjusting to management. The client whom he recalls as the “biggest nut” was Walter A., who presented a claim for a stolen van that was carrying $500,000 in gold bars, which, of course, he wanted covered as well. “Imagine our shock when the van turned up burned to a crisp and all the gold was missing.” Walter would personally come to the office every morning at 8 a.m. to demand his check—a ritual that continued for around 90 days. “He would come in and get belligerent, then would feign having a heart attack, asking us to help him find his nitro pills. He was truly certifiable.”

2. The case of the gypsy curse

Another Tidball tale involves a gypsy who roamed around Southern California. This gypsy had a van that he reported stolen that, like Walter’s, contained lots of valuable “stuff,” which the gypsy could somehow never describe beyond saying it was important. When Tidball told him he had to deny the claim (which was “complete and utter B.S.”) the case went to trial. During an examination under oath, the gypsy pointed a magician’s wand at Tidball and started speaking a strange language in an attempt to cast a curse on the insurance man.

3. The case of the cruising cat ladies

Steve Schroeder, vice president of NFP, has been in the property-casualty business for almost 25 years, on both the broker and carrier side. One of his most memorable claims cases involved a trucking-company client that had a claim filed against a driver. The claimant alleged the truck hit a station wagon and injured the driver and her passenger. The truck driver insisted that it wasn’t his fault; the vehicle had appeared out of nowhere. Investigating state police and SIU personnel found no truck skid marks, but several dead cats on the highway at the accident site. It turned out the women, whose station wagon had been loaded with cats, had been literally driving in circles in the rural area – first in the southbound lane, then crossing the embankment and heading north. When the truck driver T-boned the station wagon, several cats flew out the vehicle’s windows and were killed. The claim was pulled.

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Posted 8:44 AM  View Comments


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