Property left empty due to owner’s illness but claim still rejected

Buildings insurance

We were asked to look into Zena's rejected claim after a burst pipe caused damage in her home. Her insurer rejected her claim, as they said that she had left her home unoccupied for over a year.

What happened 

When Zena, an elderly woman, was unexpectedly admitted to hospital, she ended up spending more than a year away from home. During that time she didn't make any arrangements for someone to go to her home and check on it. 

She then discovered that her home had been damaged when some water pipes had frozen and burst. She put in a claim, but the insurer rejected it because she'd left her house unoccupied for more than 30 days. 

What we said

To make sure we made the right decision, we needed to listen to both sides of the story. When we spoke to Zena, she told us that she had regular visits from family and friends. She also told us that she had been staying with her daughter before moving back home. But nobody had been to check on Zena's home. 

The property had been left for a very long period and this had led directly to the extent of the damage given it wasn't discovered for some time. We established that it wouldn't have been difficult for Zena to make sure that the property was looked after while she was away. 

Based on the evidence, we decided that the insurer had acted reasonably in rejecting Zena's claim, so we didn't uphold her complaint.