Taalib, a doctorate student from overseas, left the university at about midnight. When he returned the following day at about 11.30am he discovered his laptop, phone, watch and hard drive were missing from his desk in an office he shared with other doctorate students. Taalib notified the university’s security and the police, but the items were not recovered.
Taalib’s insurer declined the claim saying the policy did not cover loss where the items were left unattended in a public place or if Taalib had failed to take reasonable precautions to protect his property. Taalib did not accept the insurer’s decision and complained to FSCL.
Taalib said the doctorate students’ office was not a public place, and it was reasonable for him to leave his belongings there.
The insurer again referred to the exclusion for items left in a public place, and the obligation on the insured to take reasonable precautions to protect the property. However, the insurer went on to say that even if FSCL found in Taalib’s favour on these points it would still be unable to pay Taalib compensation because his loss was under the policy excess.
Taalib had paid cash for the items before travelling to New Zealand and was unable to provide any receipts. The insurer said that it was prepared to waive the need for receipts for the lower value items, but required receipts for the laptop and phone. If the laptop and phone were excluded and depreciation was applied, Taalib’s claim was worth less than the policy excess.
We went back to Taalib with the insurer’s response. We agreed with Taalib that there may have been some issues to explore around whether the items were in a public place, and the care Taalib had taken to avoid loss. However, it was reasonable for the insurer to ask for receipts, or other proof of ownership, and without them the claim did not reach the excess threshold.
Taalib agreed to discontinue his complaint.
Insights for consumers
Make sure you keep receipts when purchasing valuable items, particularly if you pay cash.