Sometimes an adjuster will be assigned a claim that leaves them mystified, shocked or laughing. Periodically, National Underwriter provides a list of weird claims that have been filed during the year. For example, one farm claim for damaged equipment was caused when the family goat chewed through the electrical wires. Those goats will eat anything! But so will geese, apparently. A homeowner who had befriended a Canadian goose got too close, and the goose grabbed and swallowed her diamond earring. The earrings weren’t scheduled in the policy, and goose gobble was not a covered peril. The agent suggested dissecting the goose, but she didn’t want to kill the goose, despite the “golden egg” inside it.
Then there was the MetLife claim adjuster who went to inspect a post-Katrina damaged insured’s home that was near a canal. “I arrived with an independent appraiser, who was to assist,” reported Jason Altmann. “As I approached the front door, I looked down and jumped back. There in the doorway was what looked like a live alligator, measuring four or five feet in length.” They poked it with a stick to see if it was alive, but it didn’t move. The two got into the house, fearful that there might be more gators browsing the furniture, but all they saw were “a few snakes resting on dressers five or six feet in the air, or on couches.”
But it is not just goats, geese and reptiles that adjusters may encounter. In one workers compensation claim, a machinist in a metal stamping factory lost a hand. Not perhaps an unexpected type of injury for a machine shop, but it turned out that the hand had been bitten off by a lion that the insured had permission to keep on the premises.
Dealing with live tortfeasors of the animal world may not be an everyday occurrence for most adjusters but knowing how to handle the claims for damages or injuries that they may cause is important. While many such losses fall into coverage gaps, claims for incidents such as dog bites, collisions of autos with deer and other animal-related claims are common claim occurrences, and knowing what to pay or not pay is vital knowledge.