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Among the most unusual payouts Aviva had to make, however, was for a shop owner who claimed that a misguided sheep leapt through his showroom window, shattering it into bits, before disappearing.

The insurer also revealed the 1978 case of a London hotel keeper who suffered a blow to the eye from the cork of a champagne bottle he was opening. The worker successfully claimed £25 and ten shillings, or £20,120 in today’s money.

Read more: Insurance: the weird and wonderful

“As our records show, we’ve seen the strangest and most unusual claims, which goes to show that planning for the unexpected is good business practice,” said Nick Major, managing director of commercial lines at Aviva.

But apart from the strange, the company has also paid out on some of the most infamous and tragic events in the country’s history.

In 1963, Aviva insured some of the banknotes stolen in the Great Train Robbery involving a Royal Mail train going to London. The company paid out £1,091,340 and ten shillings, or equivalent to £59 million today.

Aviva also paid for a fishmonger’s van caught in the siege at the Libyan embassy in London following the fatal shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984. The vehicle was parked nearby and could not be moved until the siege ended 11 days later. By that time, the fish the van was carrying had already rotted. 

“Aviva has played an important role helping businesses protect what’s important to them, enabling them to continue to trade through good times and bad, something we have continued to focus on through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Major said.


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