As a safety net, insurance not only provides coverage when routine losses occur, but for bizarre exposures as well. That fact was vividly confirmed when National Underwriter asked readers for their strangest claims stories. Indeed, perhaps the most important lesson to be gleaned from these unusual tales is to steer clear of animals, no matter how harmless they might appear to be.

For example, Michael Burroughs, workers' compensation unit leader for Montgomery Insurance in Charlotte, N.C., wrote about a physical education teacher who had injured her knee while playing with one of her classes. During her recovery, the teacher would stop in at the school to pick up her check and visit with the staff.

After one such trip, Mr. Burroughs wrote, "while on her way out the door, [the teacher] heard something in one of the large trash bins. Inquisitively, she hobbled over on her crutches to see what the noise was, and as she got to the trash bin and looked inside…out jumped a squirrel!"

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