An elderly couple returned home one evening to find the back door of their house kicked in. The house had been ransacked and all their valuables, including many items of great sentimental value, had been taken.
Insurers appointed Loss Adjusters and when we met them on site they told us that they were recommending to Insurers that they repudiate liability on the grounds of the policyholders’ non-compliance of a policy warranty. The policy stated that all exterior doors were to be fitted with a five lever mortise deadlock. The door through which the thieves gained access was fitted with a two lever mortise deadlock, and this, they contended, was sufficient grounds for Insurers to refuse to meet the claim.
We scrutinized the policy wording and concluded that whilst there had been a breach of a policy warranty, the breach was not material having regard to the circumstances. We were able to show from our photographs that the force used to break down the door was such that, even if there had been a five lever mortise deadlock fitted, the effect would, in all probability, have been the same. The frame was smashed and would probably have yielded to the force used, whatever type of lock would have been fitted.
Predictably Insurers did not share our view at first, but we persisted and after some considerable wrangling, they agreed to meet the claim. The claimants were delighted with the outcome.
A house in Chelsea was ransacked and the stolen items included a quantity of silver – candelabra, picture frames and cutlery, totaling about £18,000. Additionally about £10,000 worth of silver-plated cutlery was stolen. The policy stated there was a maximum sum insured of £15,000 for “items of precious metal”. Loss Adjusters said therefore that the total that Insurers were liable for in respect of all the silver / silver-plated items was £15,000.
We contended that silver plate was not a precious metal and therefore the silver-plated cutlery fell outside the scope of “items of precious metal”. We wrote several letters and conducted some vigorous discussions before Insurers accepted that their policy wording was such that they had to concede.
Our clients were paid out for their silver-plated cutlery and received £10,000 more than Insurers had originally thought they should pay.