Insurer declines burglary claim because of open window

Mr and Mrs Singh's claim was declined because they'd left a window open on a security stay during their holiday.

Insurer declines burglary claim because of open window

Mr and Mrs Singh* had contents insurance for their house and went away on holiday. When they returned, they found their house had been burgled.

They made an insurance claim, but the insurer declined it, saying Mr and Mrs Singh had breached a policy condition by leaving a window open on a security stay.

Mr and Mrs Singh complained about the decision and asked the IFSO Scheme to investigate.

Upon examination, the IFSO Scheme found that the insurer had introduced a policy in 2020, imposing a new condition on the insured to ensure their house was securely locked when “unattended”.

The IFSO Scheme canvassed other insurers and found that they do not have a similar condition in their contents insurance policies, making it an unusual requirement. While it’s common for travel insurance policies to have an exclusion for claims where items have been left unattended in a public place, it is unusual for a contents policy to include a condition or exclusion like this. Other insurers will also usually cover claims where a window has been unintentionally left unsecured.

Because the new condition in Mr and Mrs Singh’s policy was onerous and unusual, the insurer was required by law to bring it to their attention. However, the IFSO Scheme could find no evidence that the insurer had specifically notified Mr and Mrs Singh about the addition of this condition.

The IFSO Scheme said the insurer was unable to rely on a failure to meet this condition to decline the claim, and the complaint was upheld in the Singh’s favour.

Complaint upheld

Insurers are required by law to bring any onerous or unusual conditions to the attention of their customers. In this case, the insurer should have clearly informed their customers of the unusual “unattended condition” in their contents policy.

*Names have been changed

See the full case study.