Five of the biggest insurance claims in history

For most people, an insurance policy is a safety net that they never have to use, and you might sometimes feel that paying to protect yourself and your assets is a waste. However, there are some events that make us realise how important it is to have insurance, so that if something serious ever does happen, you know you'll be covered.

Here's our pick of five of the biggest insurance claims in history – you can read more about them all here. Due to the catastrophic nature of all of these events, it's worth noting that they would be subject to the discretion of the insurer, but they still are great examples of how beneficial having insurance can be!


It's hard to believe that the terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade centre occurred over 12 years ago, so great was the shock that reverberated around the world. As well as the loss of nearly 3,000 lives and the destruction of the Twin Towers, insured losses associated with the attack soared to $40 billion (around £24 billion). These claims included damage to property and vehicles, life insurance, liability insurance, aviation liability and workers' compensation.

U.S./Canada power outage

In 2003, an estimated 55 million people in Canada and some northern states of the US were affected by a mass power outage. As a result, flights and trains were cancelled, lights failed, mobile phone networks broke, the internet was down and some areas even lost water pressure because pumps didn't have power. Virtually all businesses in the affected areas suffered, resulting in an estimated $3 billion (£1.8 billion) worth of insurance claims.

The financial crisis

In 2008, Britain and many other countries around the world were hit by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As a result, businesses went bust and unemployment hit an all-time high in the UK. Surely the hardest hit, though, were the insurance companies, who were forced to hand out an estimated £14 trillion.

Icelandic volcanic ash cloud

Although relatively minor for a volcanic eruption, the ash cloud created by an Icelandic volcano in 2010 caused chaos for airports across Europe, leaving thousands of passengers stranded overseas. Flight disruptions continued for weeks, affecting more than 100,000 travellers. All in all, travel insurance claims associated with the issue totalled an estimated £62 million.

Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

The earthquake that occurred in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004 led to one of the worst tsunamis in history, and the deaths of 227, 898 people. The financial impact of the tsunami was also devastating, and insured losses for property, travel, life and health totalled an estimated $1.6 billion (£977 million).

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