5 Bonkers Travel Insurance Claims

Travel insurance pays out after monkey steals from tourist backpack

Planning a post-pandemic holiday trip? Good idea. Planning on going without travel insurance? Very, very bad idea. Strange things happen in foreign lands – as these (possibly) true stories show.


Look, we're not saying that all of what you're about to read has been 100% fact-checked. While some of these stories have legit news reportage to back them up, others may well have been spun from the realms of urban legend. All of them have the same underlying truth, though: travel insurance is a must-have part of your holiday planning.


After all, you could find yourself...


1. Running away from a puff adder


In 2019 an Australian travel insurance company revealed that a 58-year-old customer was visiting our own fair land of South Africa when she encountered ibululu: a deadly puff adder. The snake did what snakes do when they cross paths with Aussie tourists, coiling into an S position and hissing loudly. The tourist responded by doing what tourists do when they come face to face with a venomous snake, turning tail and running for her life. She ran – snotklap! – into the door of her holiday rondaweltjie, breaking her nose in the process.


The result was an AUS$4,000 travel insurance claim, which was duly paid out. 'We have seen the many weird and wonderful things that can happen abroad,' the insurance company CEO noted. The puff adder was unavailable for comment.


2. Distracted by bikini babes


We haven't found confirmation of this report, but it's done the rounds so many times that it – like the urban legend of Bloody Mary – can only be true. A British tourist was on holiday in sunny Athens, Greece, when he took his eyes off the road and drove straight into a bus shelter. His insurance company covered his hospital bill (the poor bloke broke his nose), despite hearing his story. Apparently he'd been distracted by a passing group of girls in swimsuits and lost control of his hire car. It happens, right?


3. Getting shaken down by the monkey mafia


Okay, so this is a real thing. The beautiful sea temple at Uluwatu in Bali is plagued by mobster macaque monkeys who – and here we quote the respected New Scientist journal – 'steal your stuff, then sell it back for a cracker'.


'The monkeys grab valuables, such as glasses, hats, cameras or, in one case, a wad of cash from the ticket booth, then wait for temple staff to offer them food before dropping their ill-gotten gains and dashing off with the tasty prize,' they claim. According to local reports, one holidaymaking couple refused to pay protection money and ended up having their clothes stolen and strewn around the jungle. You've been warned.


4. Stung by a drainpipe scorpion


Here's another one that's passed into insurance-business folklore. A man was travelling in the Israeli resort town of Netanya when he dropped his wallet down a street drain. When he reached in to retrieve it, he got a surprise of Biblical proportions when a scorpion stung him on the hand. His travel insurance covered both his medical bills and his lost wallet, although the rest of his holiday plans went – wait for it – down the drain.


5. Bedridden thanks to your liquid lunches


The UK's Metro tabloid (known worldwide as a bastion of journalistic integrity) reported that two British tourists from Liverpool filed claims after being left 'bedridden' (their words) as a result of food poisoning during their all-inclusive trip to Spain's gorgeous Gran Canaria. This time, though, the insurance company didn't pay out.


Turns out the source of their 'stomach cramps and severe diarrhoea' (again, their words) wasn't the hotel buffet, as they claimed. Insurance investigators found that they'd chugged a titanic 109 boozy drinks over the course of their nine-day stay, including cocktails, beers, whisky shots and basically whatever else was wet and available.


Inspired to take a post-pandemic vacay? Search for flights, experiences, accommodation and packages at Hippo's Travel portal, and – please, for your own sake – stop in at our travel insurance comparison platform on your way.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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