In 1974, Michelle Squires of Chattaroy, Washington, drove her beloved "hippie van" to an upholstery shop to have a fold-down bed installed in the back. The van then disappeared from the shop's lot and Squires, broken-hearted, filed a claim with her insurance company, Allstate. They reimbursed her roughly $600 for the vehicle, which was about what she'd paid for it.
Fast-forward 35 years when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Los Angeles recovered a perfectly restored, still-running VW minibus from a shipping container bound for the Netherlands. They ran the VIN (vehicle identification) number and discovered it was the same vehicle that had been stolen from Squires back in 1974.
Now owned by Allstate, the minibus is worth about $25,000. Squires is hopeful that she can come to terms with her insurer and get her minibus back. One can only imagine the stories it would tell if it could talk!
If you've got a weird insurance tale to tell, we'd love to hear it. Leave us a comment, and find more great links and lots more information in the next section.
Author's Note: 5 Weird Auto Insurance Claims: You'll Have to Read It to Believe It
When I was doing the research for this article, I kept getting sidetracked by the off-the-wall insurance stories I uncovered. For instance, did you know that silent film actor Ben Turpin was the first celebrity to insure a body part? He took out a $25,000 Lloyds of London policy on his crossed eyes! Then there were the tall tales I desperately wanted to include but couldn't because the sources seemed suspect. (A car wreck caused by a pile of decomposing carrots? The jury is still out.) In the end, I had to marshal all my powers of self-discipline to hone in on the auto-insurance stories that seemed most plausible. I think I managed to find some good ones, and I hope you enjoyed them!
- Bertoni, Steven. "When Really Rich People Do Really Stupid Things." Forbes Magazine. Sept. 28, 2011 (March 30, 2012) http://www.forbes.com/global/2011/1010/companies-people-rich-people-stupid-things-chartis-bertoni.html
- Business First."What Is Your Most Interesting Auto Insurance Claim Story?" Sept. 17, 2007. (March 30, 2012) http://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/stories/2007/09/17/focus2.html?page=all
- Hettler, Ron. "Strange But True Auto Insurance Claim." Hettler Insurance. Sept. 1, 2011. (March 30, 2012) http://hettlerinsurance.com/2011/09/01/other-than-collisioncomprehensive/
- Irvine, Chris. "Bizarre Car Insurance Claims Revealed." The Telegraph. Aug. 17, 2008. (March 30, 2012) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/2573739/Bizarre-car-insurance-claims-revealed.html
- KHQ.com. "Local Woman's Beloved 'Hippie Van' Located After 35 Years." Nov. 8, 2009. (March 30, 2012) http://www.khq.com/story/11466484/local-womans-beloved-stolen-hippie-van-located-after-35-years?clienttype=printable
- Komo News. "Errant Mattress Starts Bizarre Chain-Reaction On I-5." Dec. 24, 2011. (March 30, 2012) http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Errant-mattress-starts-b-136191758.html
- Magliozzi, Tom and Ray. "Where to Start When Car Falls Off Tow Truck." Bellingham Herald. Oct. 28, 2011. (March 30, 2012) http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/10/28/2253213/car-falls-off-tow-truck.html
- Maronese, Nicholas. "Lamborghini Catches Fire At Car Show." Sympatico.ca. Jan. 30, 2012. (March 30, 2012) http://autos.sympatico.ca/weird-automotive-news/13009/lamborghini-catches-fire-at-car-show
- Schwartz, Ben. "Wilmington, Delaware Car Accident Involving Seven-Car Rear-End Chain Reaction Illustrates Value of Good UM Insurance." Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law. Feb. 16, 2012. (March 30, 2012) http://www.schwartzandschwartz.com/wilmington-delaware-car-accident-seven-car-rear-end-collisio/
- Virgin Media. "Bizarre Insurance Claims." (March 30, 2012) http://www.virginmedia.com/money/features/bizarre-insurance-claims.php?ssid=10
Is your car over-insured? Learn how to tell if your car has too much insurance at HowStuffWorks.