When it comes to motorcycle insurance claims, there are some common situations that we often deal with at Markel.
-The deer that ran out in front of someone last fall.
-The low side because of some gravel on a curve.
-The car that pulled out in front of someone at an intersection.
While many of the claims we see have similar circumstances, every once in a while we get one that makes even our most seasoned claim examiners step back and say, “How did THAT happen?”
This month lets look at a few of the more outrageous claims weve seen so you can get a little taste of some of the stories we hear.
“My dog ate my motorcycle”
Well start with a story that seems to come from the elementary school tale of “my dog ate my homework.” The customer called us saying that his motorcycle was parked in the driveway while his dog was running around the yard. Suddenly, the dog ran right at his bike, jumped up and knocked it over.
You know how they call dogs “mans best friend?” Apparently, whomever came up with that statement hadnt met this dog because once the dog had the bike on the ground, Rover (name changed to protect the not so innocent) decided to feast on the seat before being stopped by our customer.
At least he saved money on kibble that week.
Things Arent Always As They Seem
Sometimes, when an examiner looks at a claim they realize that something doesnt seem quite right. Often, upon further investigation they find that, while the claim story being told seems “off the wall,” it is in fact true.
Every once in a while, though, the story being told is just that – a story. Unfortunately, some people think they can get away with making a false claim to take advantage of the insurance company. Usually, this leads to an insurance fraud investigation, which often ends in the prosecution of the person who thought they were going to have a big payday.
Unfortunately, insurance fraud cases can also negatively affect the insurance rates of the other customers insured by a company. Thats why Markel and other insurance companies work hard to fight fraud, which ultimately benefits our other customers and the insurance industry as a whole.
These next two stories are a couple of the more “outrageous” stories weve heard in recent times that we ultimately found to be fraudulent.
At Markel, our claim examiners are not only trained to handle claims quickly and efficiently, but also to be on the lookout for potential insurance fraud. In this case, the examiner handling the claim noticed that something seemed strange about the repair invoice for the bike. After digging a little deeper, he found that we had a previous claim, from another person, using the same shop address. On a hunch, he used one of the satellite mapping programs to get an aerial view of the “shop,” which turned to be a house in a strictly residential area.
With his curiosity piqued, he ran the persons information through the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) database. The results showed that the customer had multiple auto and motorcycle claims with another insurance company. The examiner then contacted the other company to discuss their motorcycle claim, which turned out to be for the same model bike as ours. When the other company sent us the photos they had received for the claim, we found that the photos and claim were not for just a similar model, but for the exact same bike!
As it turns out, two men had submitted a legitimate claim at one point and retained the salvage. They then bought the same model bike and had been removing the damaged parts from the salvage bike and putting them on the good bike. Then they would just submit a claim for that bike – with multiple insurance companies.Once we uncovered all that had gone into the fraudulent claims, we handed things over to the police and lawyers, which resulted in both men spending some time as guests of the state.
The Boys Up North
Our final story is another involving insurance fraud. We had a customer that, after becoming our customer, found himself incarcerated. Not for insurance fraud…well, at least not yet.
We entered his motorcycle theft claim into the NICB database when we received it. The police who arrested him on other charges did a search of the NICB and found our claim. They then sent us information from the prison where he was being held that he had been having some “suspicious” conversations with his girlfriend. Since inmate conversations are monitored and recorded, they sent us the recordings, which gave us some background on the “theft claim” he had submitted to us.
After listening to some colorful conversations with his girlfriend, we got to the really important part of the recordings, which gave us a much clearer picture of how we received the claim. He outlined to his girlfriend how she should contact his friends, “the boys up north,” to “make those motorcycles go away.” Once they were gone, she was to contact the police and the insurance company to report the bikes stolen.
Then, in a call marked days later, the girlfriend informed him that things had been taken care of. Trying to do everything she could to help, she then asked, “Dont they record these calls?” His response, rather than calling things off was to tell her to call back and “act out” telling him that the bikes had been stolen so they could get it on tape. She called back, told him they were stolen to which he feigned surprise and told her to “call the cops.”
After working through the process with the authorities, we made sure that their calls would always be recorded, either at his prison or at hers.
Keeping Motorcycle Insurance Exciting
Remember, the vast majority of claims are from honest people who love to ride motorcycles. In those cases, we do everything possible to handle their claim quickly and efficiently in order to get them back on the road where they belong. But, every once in a while, we get the story that just makes you shake your head in disbelief. It does keep things interesting!
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I used to be a licensed insurance agent in PA, I can't tell you how many people have a $500 comprehensive deductible, thinking they are saving themselves so much money when in most cases, lowering their deductible to $100 only raised their rate the slightest bit.
My opinion? Everyone should ask their agents how much it would be to lower their comprehensive deductible. Comprehensive is fire/theft/vandalism (basically everything but collision). I know I don't want to pay $500 because someone slashed my tire, or the animals got at my bike. I'd rather pay the $100, but that's just me.
What a great story!
It's funny how often things happen that, if you hadn't been there, you would never believe it was true.
Thanks for reading,
The dog thing happened to us during a Basic Rider Course. A student didn't want to leave his dog in the car during class (neither did I) so we tied him to the fence, too close to some parked training bikes. Well the dog somehow knocked over one of the bikes, climbed on top of it and started to chew on the hand grip. By the time I stopped the exercise and ran over to the bike there were K9 teeth makes all over the throttle. Ugh! It was a hard one to explain to the owner of the site why there were teeth marks on the grip. We see a lot of strange things coaching the clas,s but that topped them all.
Believe it or not my son's dog did chew the sparkplug wires off his bike not once, but twice. At $160 to replace them he was not happy. No claims on this and so far he still has the dog. Just parks his bike away from where the dog can get to it. So when I read the story. I could kinda relate.