The dodgiest insurance claims ever attempted

Most who claim from their insurance have a genuine reason to do so. However, there are a few who attempt to pull a swift one on their provider.

Insurance fraud costs companies tens of millions of dollars each year, but in the end those costs get passed on to you, the policy holder. Fraudsters just keep coming up with creative and outrageous scams. Here are some of the claims that made it into the insurance fraud’s hall of shame.

The canoe man

Subsequently dubbed as “the canoe man”, John Darwin became famous for all the wrong reasons in 2007.

Darwin’s wife, Anne, was paid £680,000 ($1.06 million) in life insurance claims after he disappeared in an apparent canoeing accident back in 2002.

Crippled by debt, the couple realised that their obligations would be wiped out if he faked his own death.

Upon payment, Darwin lived rough for a while but then spent some considerable time outside of his native UK and he and his wife began to live the high life. He later turned himself in to British police claiming that he had no recollection of what happened since the “accident” five years earlier.

Subsequently, the authorities were happy to jog his memory by showing Darwin pictures of himself and his wife buying property in Panama. The couple were promptly gaoled.

Clayton and Molly Daniels

Although it didn’t deter the insurers in the John Darwin case, one of the issues with faking your own death is in the lack of a body. This was a problem tackled in a creative way by Texans, Clayton and Molly Daniels, in 2005 when the couple proceeded to dig up a corpse from a local cemetery and place it in their burning car. Clayton would then disappear, leaving Molly to collect the $110,000 payout, before he would later reappear as her new boyfriend.

Their endeavours were elaborate – she researched into how to burn a body effectively, even seeking tips on how to defraud an insurer. There was just one gaping flaw in their plan, however – the body used in the crime was that of an 81 year old woman, which DNA testing later confirmed what the police suspected.

The newlyweds

A destination wedding in the Caribbean went awry when the bride got too close to a barbeque, setting her gown alight. In a desperate move to save her, the groom quickly picked up his new wife and dropped her into the sea.

Both the groom’s suit and bride’s dress were destroyed, but at least the travel insurance provider came through and we can only hope the couple had better luck in their marriage than on their big day.

Smart art

Possibly the worst art insurance fraudster award goes to US man, Jason Sheedy, who made a $275,000 claim for valuable pieces by Rembrandt and Salvador Dali among others in 2007. He was paid out, but then proceeded to break the fraudster’s golden rule – he attempted to sell the pieces again.

The artwork had merely been pawned and when it appeared at a major auction house some time later with his name listed as the owner and vendor, the magic of the insurance database uncovered the deception.

The farmer

While returning to his car from a plant nursery, a US man saw a camel kick his car leaving a sizeable dent. Fortunately, the bizarre event was caught on film and the insurer paid up.

While camels are not common on Australian roads, car accidents certainly are. Make sure you are covered by comparing car insurance on RateCity. It may not save you from a stray camel, but it will likely save you money.


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Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance. 

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.