Travel insurance is the tonic for most travellers anxieties, whether it be fears of lost luggage or an outlandish medical bill.
But travel insurance can cover so much more than we anticipate. Ask any insurance guru and they’ll be able to rattle off the most outlandish and surreal occurrences of travellers needing help, from unruly monkeys to a $6,000 fishing accident.
Comparetravelinsurance.com.au has asked some of Australia and New Zealand’s top travel insurers the strangest claims of 2019 and the results did not disappoint.
Here are the top seven:
7. The surfers who had their hotel room trashed… by monkeys.
Returning home after a morning surf, two Sydney men found their Thai bungalow had been broken into by a troop of monkeys – because the monkeys were still there! After a flurry, the monkeys leapt out the window, taking a watch and a set of keys with them.
Much of the men’s clothing was also damaged, as the monkeys had kindly left some gifts behind. The men successfully claimed for $1,800 worth of personal effects.
6. The bird watcher whose camera was knocked into the sea… by a bird.
Attempting to get the perfect time-lapse video, this bold traveller balanced his camera on a handrail overlooking a cliff and put chunks of bread in front of the lens.
All was going well until a particularly large bird opened its wings, knocking the camera off the rail, over the cliff and into the sea. While many people might feel lucky if they were paid anything given the circumstances, he was furious when he was only covered for $3,000.
5. The outdoors woman hospitalised for eating a berry… that was poisonous.
An Auckland woman hiking in Greece claimed $2,300 for medical expenses, accommodation and flight rescheduling after eating a berry on the country’s iconic Mt Olympus. Unfortunately for the seasoned trekker, the mountainside berry she sampled left her violently ill, and she was stuck in her hotel for four days, missing her flights home.
4. The over-packer who claimed for 25 pairs of underwear… when she had already returned home.
This Wellington traveller claimed for luggage and personal effects worth $9,000, including $675 worth of underwear (ooh-la,-la!), 12 pairs of shoes and 2 wetsuits for a mere 10 day holiday. The claim was denied when she revealed to the insurer that her suitcase had been stolen after being left outside on her front porch the night she arrived home.
3. The storm chaser who claimed for a storm-chasing tour that was altered… by a storm.
A Queensland man tried to claim $2,300 for a tornado-chasing expedition, as the tour company diverted part of the trip away from the particularly deadly storms which struck the south-eastern USA that day. Instead, the group visited local historical sites and national parks for two days of the nine-day trip.
2. The animal lover who claimed $6,000 for fish… getting stuck in her finger.
A Perth woman visiting Florida was feeding pelicans and seagulls baitfish when a fishbone became lodged in her finger, causing significant pain. A quick trip to the hospital to have it removed cost over $5,500 – more than double her planned spending money. Luckily, her travel insurance covered the lot, so she could still take her daughters to Disneyland.
1. The pastor who claimed for a stolen watch… that was never stolen.
A returning Sydney missionary claimed for a $1,500 watch that had been stolen by bandits. Despite having a police report for the robbery, the claim was denied after the assessors noticed that he was wearing the watch in social media photos – taken after he’d returned home.