A puppy ate my glasses: what Britons tell insurers

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THINKING OF visiting East Anglia? Think again. According to a report by NatWest Insurance Services, East Anglia is the most accident prone region in the UK.

Accidents are the major cause of all household insurance claims in Britain at 48 per cent. But in East Anglia the figure rises to 57 per cent, way above the average. It is the second year running that East Anglia has topped the league.

NatWest's annual analysis of its own claims data for 1998-99, accumulated from more than 360,000 policy holders, suggests that butter-fingered Brits have more to fear from their own clumsiness than from crime or the weather.

The most common mishaps are damage to bathroom fittings such as toilets and wash basins. Unfortunately, NatWest does not go into how people actually damage their toilets, only the insurance claims they make as a result.

Other "accident blackspots" include breakage of glass, spilling red wine over pale carpets, dropping the TV and hi-fi, soiling by pets, damage by over-energetic children and decorating disasters.

Reading NatWest's report it seems a wonder that any houses are still standing after their occupants have got to work on them. In contrast crime, much in the news at the moment, accounts for only 22 per cent of the nation's insurance claims.

London is the UK's worst affected area with 29 per cent of all insurance claims made for theft from buildings, cars or individuals. Northern Ireland is Britain's safest place from theft with just 8 per cent of claims in the region made for robbery.

When it comes to that great British pastime of talking about the weather, NatWest's findings show that the elements account for only 15 per cent of insurance claims nationally.

Northern Ireland and Scotland bear the brunt of the gales and rainstorms, with 45 per cent and 33 per cent respectively, while London gets off lightly with just 7 per cent.

Some of the claims submitted to NatWest's insurance division have startled even the most hardened staff. Below are some of the answers to the question: "Please state how the loss or damage occurred."

"My husband has a habit of leaving false teeth on my side of the bed. I have moaned for years [that he should] cover them up. Alas, unknown to me he wrapped them in tissue. I got up and saw a dirty tissue so I flushed it down the loo."

"Following a party a friend staying with us urinated over my computer. Not sure if this is classified as water damage."

"Burglary, entry gained through backside."

"Labrador puppy ate my glasses while we were sleeping."

"Damage to TV: I have now left this TV with the repairer as it is of no use to me in its present state. However, I must say it improves your marriage not to have a TV in the lounge."