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From amorous horses to blundering burglars

Updated 17 June 2019

  • AvivaPlus and a range of digital tools are making claiming easier and faster for UK customers.
  • Gorilla bites and misbehaving monkeys among the most notable claims accepted.
  • Aviva UK Insurance accepted 991,500 commercial and personal claims in 2018, worth £3.8bn.

In a year that saw the Beast from the East batter UK homes, Aviva also dealt with a range of unusual claims from its customers including damage caused by a hapless burglar who locked himself in a garden shed and a holidaying customer who had their mobile phone destroyed by a monkey.

Aviva accepted 991,500* claims2 from its UK customers in 2018. The UK’s largest insurer accepted 96%1 of the claims it received, worth more than £3.8 billion – the equivalent of £10,430,992 every day, or £7,244 going to customers every minute across its UK motor, home, health, protection, travel, life and critical illness businesses.

Insurance is there to protect against the unexpected, no matter how unlikely the circumstance. And in volume and variety, our data on the claims we accepted in 2018 shows that Aviva helped its customers when they needed us most.
Andy Briggs, Chief Executive Officer, Aviva UK Insurance

Read on to find out about the stories behind last year's claims, or view our infographic.

Quirky and unusual claims

Image of a horse at sunset

Mistaken identity: a horse mistook a customer’s car for a female horse, and proceeded to make amorous advances, including getting its front legs onto the vehicle! The damaged car got the hump, but Aviva put things right by arranging for the bodywork to be repaired.

The hapless burglar: a burglar who tried – and failed – to break in to a customer’s house hid in a garden shed when he was rumbled by the homeowner. The burglar accidentally locked himself in to the shed, making it easy for police to apprehend him. Aviva paid the claim for damage to the home (windows) and shed.

Don’t blame the gorilla: a customer was on a trek to see gorillas in their natural habitat. Their guide took them close to a group of gorillas and surprised one of them, who bit our customer on the arm and ran off. Aviva arranged for medical assistance for the customer, who said he didn't blame the gorilla!

Image of a cat sitting down

The cat in the car: a cat snuck into our customer’s car as he was unloading groceries. Later, noticing his hazards were on, the customer went outside to see the cat in his vehicle. The cat had tried to escape by clawing at the roof of the car, causing substantial interior damage! The customer opened the door and the cat hightailed it out. Aviva repaired the car – and the cat was not injured.

The monkey did it: a customer was on holiday when a monkey snatched his bag, jumped on top of a wall and proceeded to rifle through the customer’s belongings. The monkey found the customer’s mobile phone and smashed it on the ground. Aviva replaced the customer’s phone.

Cracked heads: Aviva received claims for damage to the heads of Ben Affleck and Justin Bieber – or, to be more specific, their wax likenesses. Fine cracks ruined the waxworks of our commercial customer and Aviva paid the business that created them.

Key claims events

In 2018 there were a number of key events which led to claims being made. These included:

The fire at the Liverpool Echo Arena car park on New Year’s Eve 2017, which led to more than 120 fire claims. Aviva settled 90% of these within 12 days. Fire accounts for just 1% of Aviva’s motor claims.

Beast from the East, part I: we had around 7,000 home insurance claims due to storm, flood and freeze in the first half of the year, settling 10% of these claims on the same day.

Image of a fire at night

Beast from the East, part II: we also accepted around 3,000 weather-related motor claims in H1 2018, mainly due to the adverse weather from Beast from the East. Using digital tools, Aviva was able to settle 50% of total losses (motor) on the same day, getting customers back on the road quickly.

The combination of dry weather and high temperatures resulted in an increase in the number of road traffic accidents reported to Aviva over the summer. Factors such as sun glare and an increase in the number of cars on the road are thought to be contributing factors.

Likewise, the extended dry, hot summer increased the severity of fire claims in commercial properties; although the incidence of fire claims was not materially higher, the hot weather and dry conditions meant that the damage from fire was higher than usual, increasing the severity of the claim.

Airline strikes, airline supplier failure, weather and IT issues at airports all played a part in increasing the total number of travel insurance claims we accepted in 2018 by 28%.

2018 ended with drones disrupting air traffic at Gatwick Airport. The holiday timing of this caused delays and cancellations for thousands of holidaymakers. 

There when bad things happen

For most customers, making a claim is an unfamiliar experience. They contact Aviva when something bad has happened to them, looking to Aviva to help put it right. Traditionally, customers rang Aviva’s 24/7 claims centres to make an enquiry or submit a claim.

Increasingly, however, customers are turning to digital channels to make a claim, either online or using the MyAviva app. For some people, the last thing they want to do when something’s gone wrong is to talk with someone to explain it – for example, Aviva saw a 70% increase in the number of health claims made online in the second half of the year and more than 1,500 customers a month used our live chat facility to discuss their health insurance claim. 

The speed and ease of digital is also a big attraction: 30% of Aviva’s direct home and motor customers now notify their claim online, with more than 40% claiming online during the bad weather from ‘Beast from the East’. More than 70% of motor insurance customers book their car repair online.

The purpose of insurance is to get the customer back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is. Sometimes that is a simple payment for a damaged item, but other times that is not always possible. Aviva has been supporting employees of its Group Income Protection customers with a range of rehabilitation services to help them get back to normal and back to work.  Last year, Aviva provided rehabilitation services to 1,203 people – our highest number to date – helping them get well enough to return to work. Nine out of 10 rehab cases resulted in a positive outcome for the customer.

Why a claim is declined

The small number (4.1%) of claims logged by Aviva but not accepted last year were due to reasons that are common across the industry. These include:

  • the value of the claim not meeting the policy excess (the first part of the claim that the customer pays)
  • a pre-existing health condition/lifestyle choice was not declared when taking the policy out
  • making a claim for something that falls outside of the policy terms – eg if we open a claim from a customer, but subsequently find that the cause of the claim is not covered. An example of this would be if we register a claim which, once we look at the damage, turns out to be the effect of gradual wear and tear or damp and dry rot – none of which are covered in standard home insurance policies.

Andy Briggs continued: “In last year’s claims report we promised we would continue to improve our processes to make it even easier for our customers to claim. We have made substantial progress against this goal in the last year, launching a range of digital tools to make claiming easier for customers, from booking and tracking car repairs online to a digital tool that can settle total loss motor claims on the same day.

“A significant milestone on this journey came with the pilot and launch of AvivaPlus. While much has been made of AvivaPlus’ renewal price guarantee and simplified policy terms, there is also an important claims element that benefits customers, such as quick claims decisions on electrical items under £2,000.

“At Aviva, our purpose is to help customers defy uncertainty. It’s important that our customers can count on us when the worst happens. I’m proud that last year we were able to help so many of our customers when they needed us most. But, like last year, we will continue to improve the claims process for our customers so it is effortless.”

Source: Aviva UK Insurance 2018 claims data

Type of claim 2

Number of claims accepted*2

% of claims submitted to Aviva in 2018 that were accepted

Claims value*

Motor insurance (not including third party) 3,4




Home insurance 3



Travel insurance 3



Commercial motor 3




Commercial property 3



Life insurance




Critical illness




Income protection 5




Fracture cover




Private medical insurance




Group protection 6








Claims accepted by Aviva in 2018 


Claims numbers have been rounded to the nearest 000; value numbers have been rounded to the nearest 0,000.

Overall % accepted figure rounded up in body of press release from 95.9% to 96%.

A Claim means a report or communication received from an Aviva customer to raise an event on their insurance policy resulting in a claim being registered on our system.

3 “Claims accepted” methodology is aligned to the recent Financial Conduct Authority General Insurance Value Measures Report definition. https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/data/general-insurance-value-measures-data-third-information-request.pdf

4 Settled motor claims include all claims made by or against our customer, including own damage, third party damage and third party injury claims. These figures do not include third party only claims, where no claim is made by our customer.

5 Aviva claims paid rates for income protection have been calculated using the ABI methodology introduced in May 2017 for new claims accepted.

6 Group protection claims paid rates are stated using the GRiD methodology.

Erik Nelson

Motor Insurance and Compensation Culture, Fraud and Data

Media enquiries

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/ 
  • Aviva is a leading international savings, retirement and insurance business. We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives – to help them make the most of life. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’.
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