Aviva releases details of some notable cases as it reveals it accepted nearly one million claims last year

Aviva dealt with some strange claims in 2018. From damage caused by a hapless burglar who locked himself in a garden shed, to a holidaying customer who had their mobile phone destroyed by a monkey.

Aviva received almost one million (991,700) claims from its UK customers in 2018, accepting 96% them.

The total amount Aviva paid in claims came to more than £3.8bn – the equivalent of £10,430,035 every day, or £7,243 going to customers every minute across its UK businesses.

Andy Briggs, Chief Executive Officer, Aviva UK Insurance, commented: “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.”

Strange claims:

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

Key claims events

Aviva noted a few notable events in 2018 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.
  • “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 

Aviva says that customers are “increasingly turning to digital channels to make a claim, either online or using the MyAviva app.” 

The speed and ease of digital is also a big attraction, Aviva has found.  It says 30% of its 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,’ and 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,” Aviva said in its release. Last year, Aviva said it provided rehabilitation services to 1,203 people – the company’s highest number to date – helping customers get well enough to return to work.

The insurer reported that “nine out of 10 rehab cases resulted in a positive outcome for the customer.”

 Why a claim is declined

4.1% of claims logged by Aviva were not accepted last year were due to reasons, it says, 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 – e.g. 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.

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.”

Claims accepted by Aviva in 2018

Type of claim2Number of claims accepted*2% of claims submitted to Aviva in 2018 that were acceptedClaims value*

Motor insurance (not including third party)3,4




Home insurance3



Travel insurance3



Commercial motor3




Commercial property3



Life insurance




Critical illness




Income protection5




Fracture cover




Private medical insurance




Group protection6