Accidental paint damage claim deemed ‘foreseeable’ by insurer

Home insurance

Hazel was doing some decorating when she managed to spill paint on her carpet. When she tried to claim for accidental damage, her insurer said that the damage was foreseeable so turned down her claim.

What happened

Hazel had been decorating, tripped over the ladder, and accidentally knocked over a paint pot, getting paint on the carpet. So she called her insurer to make a claim. 

The policy said it covered accidental damage and defined that to mean ‘sudden physical damage that was unforeseen’. The insurer accepted the damage was sudden and physical but said it was foreseeable. They felt the risk of spilling paint should have been clear and the paint spill didn't look ‘natural’, so they declined her claim. 

Hazel disagreed and felt her insurer acted unfairly, and made a complaint. Her insurer issued a final response and said that if shes unhappy with the outcome of her complaint, she has six months to refer her complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.  

What we said

We spoke to Hazel about what had happened. She agreed that the risk was clear, but explained that was why shed used dust sheets. She had covered the area underneath the ladder and next to the wall she was painting. 

But when shed tripped over the foot of the ladder, she'd knocked it over, causing the paint pot at the top of the ladder to fly to the other side of the room. She hadn't foreseen this to happen. 

Hazel gave us photos that supported her version of events. They showed the area shed been painting and the damaged area on the other side of a large room. The pattern of paint on the carpet seemed consistent with how you'd expect it to land. The insurer didn't provide any evidence to counter this. 

We thought her explanation that this incident was unlikely to have been foreseen was reasonable. So we concluded that the insurer's decision to decline the claim was unfair.