Case Studies: Burglary & Theft

House burglary

Our high-powered businessman client was a meticulous record keeper. And every time he purchased anything of significant value he would send a copy of the receipt to his broker for adding to the policy of specified valuables.

When he suffered a £200,000+ burglary at his London home he was rather taken aback that insurers were questioning the claim, which to his mind was perfectly straightforward, properly documented and adequately covered. Unfortunately, when a policy is continually amended and updated, it is rare that all of the information which is supposed to reflect the current position is indeed reflected as the policyholder intended.

The insurers appointed a very experienced senior loss adjuster who specialised in jewellery and fine art claims, and was an expert in turning the interpretation of the policy fine print to insurers’ advantage. We sorted through several years’ worth of the broker’s files, and those belonging to our clients, and produced a complete reconciliation of all the items to the policy wording and cover, proving the insurers were liable for everything. In fairness to the loss adjuster, he settled the claim with good grace.

There is no such thing as a straightforward claim.

Theft of photography equipment

With his studio based at home, our photographer client had, over many years, amassed an array of sophisticated equipment worth tens of thousands of pounds, but only some of which he currently used.

He had extended his home policy to cover equipment, but in the second year with his insurer when the burglary occurred, they had omitted to record at renewal that any of the equipment was for professional use, or that he used his home for business. The loss adjuster acknowledged that the insurance sums were adequate, but argued that the policy did not cover equipment for business or professional purposes, and therefore none of the equipment would be paid.

We established that the correct disclosures had been made at the time of proposal, and that insurers had given cover for equipment at the outset. By carefully analysing our client’s accounting records we were also able to demonstrate that those items which were not covered for professional use had been written off over the course of time, and had reverted to become his personal property rather than belonging to the business. Even though largely obsolete the equipment still had a replacement value, and as the policy was written on a ‘new for old’ basis, we were able to secure a full financial recovery.

There can be value in obsolescence.

Computer theft from graphic design studio

No sooner had we settled their claim for burglary, our graphic design studio client was burgled again.

After the first burglary the insurers imposed a warranty requiring all the computers to be bolted down, but as the 16 new computers had only just arrived, there had not been sufficient time for their engineers to attend and carry out the bolting down exercise before they were stolen. This cut no ice with the zealous loss adjuster who thought he could save the insurers a bundle of cash, and he rejected the claim.

We pointed out to the insurers that it was unreasonable to change the terms of the contract by imposing new conditions half way through the insurance year, without at least allowing the policyholder a reasonable time to comply, normally 30 days with security conditions. They accepted our argument and paid up, plus the loss of profit on lost business and the increased costs for farming out urgent work to other studios.

Everything must pass a test of reasonableness.