6 Largest Insurance Claims

No matter what size of your insurance claim, you can expect your rates to increase. We don’t even want to know how much these premiums increased after the six largest insurance claims in history: the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami, Australia’s 2008-09 firestorm, a UK driver’s $810,000 prototype sports car, a Joseph Mallord William Turner painting, and one pet cat’s $20,000 renal surgery.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If the risks are manageable, insurance companies will write coverage for almost anything. Sometimes, even when the risks have carefully weighed, a claim is made that hits the record books. Here is a short list of the 6 most expensive insurance claims ever filed for different categories, which will certainly make any claims you’ve filed yourself pale by comparison.

The purpose of insurance is to protect the owner of the policy from financial losses in the event that something happens to the property being insured. Because what makes a financial difference for person or company is not the same as it is for another, there is a long list of unusual things which have been insured to protect the interests of their owners. The 6 presented here are among the most unusual, but they are only the top of the list and there are thousands of such items insured right now, all over the world.


The insurance costs related to 9/11 have still not been completely tallied or even paid out. One thing that is certain is that the collapse of the World Trade Center is going to be one of the most expensive insurance claims ever filed. After all, this was not a single claim, but several thousand claims of many different types. Nothing in recent history, with the exception of actual warfare, has been as costly as the attack on the World Trade Center.

The Japanese Tsunami and Earthquake

In a matter of a few hours, an offshore earthquake in Japan resulted in the second highest level of insurance claims ever made. Tens of thousands of people were displaced, entire villages were leveled, and a nuclear reactor was damaged to the point of becoming completely unstable. It will still be years before the final total is available, but there is little doubt that this natural disaster will take its place in the history of insurance claims.

Australia’s Firestorm

The string of fires and other natural disasters which hit Australia in 2008 and 2009 can be grouped together as the third most expensive insurance claim ever filed. Thousands of homes were destroyed, commercial properties razed and real estate turned into a wasteland. While the average single claim was only around $40,000, the sheer number of claims filed raises the total costs to staggering levels.

High Cost Automotive

The number 4 spot goes to a single vehicle car insurance claim made in the UK in 2007. A driver was insured to test a prototype vehicle on a closed track and subsequently crashed the car, valued at $810,000. When the dust settled and the settlement was reached, the car owner received a total claim payout of over $300,000.


The Cost of Art

Some of the largest policies in the world exist to cover art, specifically one of kind paintings and sculptures that would be a loss to the entire world if they were to disappear. The fifth most expensive claim on record was for one such piece of art, a painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner, which was insured for a mind-boggling $38 million dollars.

High Priced Pet

Pet insurance is not a subject you would expect to rank as one of the biggest insurance payouts of all time, but a $22,000 claim for a cat’s renal surgery was paid in 2010. Not only is the single largest pet insurance claim ever filed, the cat in question was an ordinary mixed breed with no special traits or characteristics aside from the love of its owners.

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