Looking back on the year, Insurance Times picks out the most unusual,surprising and funny stories that it came across in the insurance industry.

In January it was reported that tractors have become the “hot model” for thieves. Insurers, however, have failed to include engine and chassis numbers in insurance documents, according to the equipment register. The disappearance of farm vehicles cost insurers around £400m last year.

Also in January a Newcastle United fan went to Rome and got runover by a car, breaking his leg, skull and jaw and going to hospital in a coma. He woke up to remember he had no medical insurance. The club, however, intervened and Europ Assistance was chosen to sort out the supporter's repatriation.

In February the Art Loss Register (ALR) achieved one of its greatest coups with the recovery of a stolen painting worth more than £18m. Bouilloire et Fruits by the impressionist artist Paul Cezanne was looted from the Bakwin family in the United States in 1978.
By liaison with US and other international police forces, staff at the New York and London-based ALR managed to recover the painting almost a year after they were contacted by the family in October 1999.

Also in February staff working for water damage restorers Munters were unprepared for what they found while tackling a routine case of flood damage at a London flat. Family members said they had been watching television when water began streaming down the walls. Going to investigate, Munters found a corpse laid out on the bathroom floor. None of the family had mentioned it but apparently they were waiting for the undertakers after the father of the house had collapsed and died while running a bath.

In May a couple had a lucky escape when a double decker bus hit the front of house near Huddersfield causing £100,000 worth of damage. The bus struck Linda Downs' bathroom just seconds after she had left it and within minutes of her husband Steven leaving the house for work.

“The whole house shook, all the lights went out and I felt like it was a thunderstorm or an earthquake. I was absolutely terrified and all I could think was to get out as quickly as I could. If I had not walked out of the bathroom when I did I would not be here today.”

In April NFU reported a worrying increase in the number of sheep killed by dogs in 1999 – up 8.5% from 1998 to 24,000. The estimated cost to farmers was thought o be anything above £2m a year.

In June Following a host of bizarre reasons given to Abbey National Insurance (ANI) customers by other insured parties following a motor accident, ANI compiled this top five list in June:

1 I was just daydreaming

2 The weather was poor

3 I was rubbernecking (watching someone)

4 I was talking on my mobile phone

5 I was doing my makeup/hair

In September a warehouse owner was left severely deflated when he checked his empty premises after an attempted break-in. Opening the door he found intruders had not stolen anything but instead had dumped more than 3,000 worn tyres. It cost the owner £3,000 to remove the tyres which was not covered by his insurance policy.