With Halloween fast approaching, many insurers will be on their guard as the night is one the biggest for car theft, vandalism, fires and burglaries – but the need for cover doesn’t end there for some haunted customers

Late one night in 2002, Terry Meggs, the pub landlord of the Royal Falcon Hotel in Lowestoft, Suffolk allegedly witnessed a ghost shoot a row of glasses across the bar.

The incident prompted Meggs to think about what might happen should one of his staff or customers were hurt during a paranormal incident and so he took out a Spooksafe Insurance policy, distributed by UK-based specialist insurer Ultraviolet.

The ghost insurance policy pays out up to £1m if staff or customers suffer a permanent disability or even death due to ghosts, poltergeists or other paranormal activity such as vampires, aliens or damage to personal effects.

The policy also provides cover for damages should the insured turn into a werewolf.

In 2001, Ultraviolet reportedly sold 500 policies in its first year of trading.

The aforementioned pub – which is based in a 500-year-old building and situated next to a disused graveyard – is allegedly haunted by a monk who hanged himself after being caught having an affair. It is one of the oldest buildings in Lowestoft and formerly hosted Eastholme Girls School.

Insurance Times attempted to contact Meggs at the Royal Falcon Hotel pub, but it has since been sold to another owner. 

Meanwhile, Insurance Times attempted to contacted Spooksafe Insurance but the firm was untraceable. 

Spooksafe has paid out on a £100, 000 claim in the past after it was confirmed by investigators that a poltergeist threw a woman over the bannister in her home. 

According to a LinkedIn update from KlarifyLife posted three months ago, Spooksafe Insurance “suddenly disappeared – much like the ghosts [it] offered coverage against”.

But this is not the only type of insurance that covers for paranormal activity. 

For instance, Nottingham-based Clifton Hall – a 52-room mansion – was purchased by millionaire Anwar Rashid in 2007 for £3.6m.

Clifton Hall was originally home to the Clifton family from the 13th century until 1958.

According to BBC News, the day Anwar and his family moved in they experienced paranormal activity such as tapping on the walls, voices and ghostly presences taking on the form of their children.

Despite deploying paranormal investigators, Anwar handed back the keys eight months later after finding blood stains on his 18 month old baby’s quilt.

David Miller Insurance Brokers and Blackfriars Group Insurance are just a couple of the firms that offer public liability insurance for paranormal investigations and ghost hunts.

These policies protect against claims for personal injury or property damage sustained by third parties during the course of business. Most policies are arranged on a claims occuring basis, meaning that the policy responds to claims arising from incidents that occurred while the policy was in force. 

In 2017, insurer Ecclesiastical had a pay out of £8,500 returned by the owners of Ripley castle in North Yorkshire after two pairs of Georgian candlesticks that were apparently stolen reappeared in strange circumstances on a shelf in a bright red bag.

The castle has a history of alleged poltergeist activity and its owner Thomas Inilby suspects the candles were returned by ghosts. 

Lloyd’s of London also offers several types of paranormal policy, including ghost and poltergeist insurance as well as cover for alien abductions.

Mischief night

On a less supernatural note, while some may know Halloween or All Hallows Eve as a night of trick or treating, many insurers have branded it “mischief night” as it is also one of the most likely nights for car thefts, vandalism, fires and burglaries.

Aviva chief claims officer Waseem Malik told Insurance Times: “Halloween provides something of a perfect storm for would-be troublemakers – which could mean an increase in certain types of claims.

“As well as the trick or treat antics of 31 October, the clocks go back on the last Saturday of the month. This means night will fall an hour earlier around Halloween, which creates an opportunity for people to go about their business under the cover of darkness.”

Aviva’s claims data revealed that between 2016 and 2021, malicious damage claims increased by 21% during the months of October and November.

Moreover, the insurer’s previous analysis showed an increase in fire claims around Bonfire Night – also known as Guy Fawkes Night – on 5 November, while thefts tend to peak during the darker months.

Data from the Office of National Statistics revealed that 62% of burglaries occur during the hours of darkness – of these, 58% occur during dawn and 4% take place at dusk.

In October 2019, a Halloween inspired gang of youths asked for a treat before swiping a homeowner’s vehicle in an elaborate distraction burglary in the West Midlands.

Susan Sansom, director for project managed adjusting at Sedgwick, said: “Based on our observation on claim volumes, there is a definite increase in instructions over the Halloween period from 31 October to 8 November by 11% in 2020 and 31% in 2021.

”Although a jump in claims on the first weekday of the week is common across the periods, it appears to be more significant compared to an average week. In 2020 there were more lock down restrictions in place, whereas in 2021 there were fewer restrictions, which explains the increase in claims numbers.

“We saw the largest spike in volume of fire claims across the whole year during the Halloween period. Theft’s trend is also strong especially in the portfolio year of 2021, which shows a clear spike around Halloween/bonfire night. Accidental damage is sporadic but shows enough of a potential trend not to be excluded from this analysis.

“We’ve seen an increase in fire, accidental damage and theft claims during Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations in past two years.”

This is especially the case for fire and accidental damage claims.

Sansom noted that the ”uplift in theft claims is more difficult to pinpoint” because people are more likely to leave their homes for firework displays or parties.


Claims rising again

Speaking about ‘mischief night’, Malik said that fireworks are usually in plentiful supply – adding to the risk of people causing damage.

Malik said: “Types of claims seen around Halloween include broken doors, smashed windows and damage caused by people throwing fireworks.

“Thankfully, most of these claims are relatively low in value and easy to put right, but they can be distressing for customers and it goes without saying that claims involving fire can be devastating.”

Aviva’s claims data showed that theft claims increased by 10% during October and November 2019 – a stark contrast to 2020 when theft claims dropped significantly due to the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.

However, Aviva reported the following year that theft claims were beginning to rise again, with an increase of 33% between January and September2021.

“We’d urge residents and business owners to be on their guard at this time of year and report any significant acts of vandalism to the police, as well as their insurance provider,” Malik added.

On a similar note, telematics firm InsuretheBox’s data from 2016 to 2019 revealed that customers filed 6% more claims on 31 October than any other day of the year. Claims specifically related to malicious damage to vehicles such as slashed tyres were 131% more likely on Halloween.

Axa UK’s retail claims director Dean Witherington said: “During this time of year, we do see a slight uplift in burglaries, which is mainly associated with the increased hours of darkness because of the change to Greenwich Mean Time.”


What can business owners and homeowners do to reduce claims on Halloween?

Daniel Lloyd-John, chief executive of Broadway Insurance Brokers, said: “Damage to vehicles and properties also anecdotally increases around Halloween – and that’s even before we consider Bonfire Night metaphorically causing the number of claims to explode.

“Whilst some incidents will be beyond our control, there is still much that business and homeowners can do to keep themselves and their property safe and secure.”

Lloyd-John suggested making sure that doors and windows were locked and that valuables were placed out of sight.

Meanwhile, Axa UK’s retail claims director Dean Witherington said the insurer commonly receives a increased amount of fire claims at this time of year from bonfires, fireworks and candles being knocked over.

“What these claims have in common is that they are easily avoidable if people take steps to make sure situations are kept under control,” Witherington added.

This includes safety measures such as not using a paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.