A customer claims for damage to a property he was only visiting periodically


Ken contacted us because he disagreed with his insurer's decision after his property was broken into.

What happened

Ken lived in London but owned a house in Belfast, where he had been a student and where his girlfriend lived. His house in Belfast was broken into and there was a lot of damage. He put in a claim to his insurer, but they turned down the claim. The insurer said the house hadn't been occupied for more than 30 days. 

The insurer had rejected Ken's claim because of the exclusion clause in his policy. This clause said it would not meet claims if the property was left unoccupied. 

Ken was unhappy with this decision, so he came to us. 

What we said

Ken told us that he visited Belfast periodically to see his girlfriend and to check up on the house. He provided some evidence of this, giving us flight information for when he visited Belfast. But this had only been three times in a 12 month period. We decided that it would be more likely that Ken would stay with his girlfriend than stay at the house. We didn't think he would have checked on the property at all. 

We asked Ken for utility bills but he couldn't provide us with any. The house was in a poor state of repair so it was very unlikely that anyone would have lived there, even for one night. We considered that the insurer's position had been prejudiced by the fact that the house was not lived in. 

We felt that the exclusion clause could have been written more clearly. But, under the circumstance, we thought it was reasonable for the insurer to cite the clause to reject the claim. It was clear that Ken hadn't been to the house for lengthy periods of time well beyond a 30-day period. So we decided to not uphold Ken's complaint.