Gerald and Geraldine were travelling around Italy in a Fiat Panda. One morning they left their hotel in Udine and went to a shopping centre to pick up some goods before driving to Verona. They parked the Fiat in front of the shopping centre. When Gerald and Geraldine returned to the car, they found it had been broken into. The thief had stolen iPhones from the glove box and jewellery from Geraldine’s handbag, which Geraldine had hidden under the passenger seat. Gerald and Geraldine claimed for their stolen belongings.
Armadillo Insurance accepted Gerald and Geraldine’s claim for their iPhones but declined the claim for their jewellery. Armadillo’s policy wording stated that belongings stolen from an unattended car would only be covered if they were stolen from a “Locked Storage Compartment”. The policy defined “Locked Storage Compartment” to include the glove box and the boot, but did not include items left in the open cabin of the car, even if they were hidden well under the passenger seat. Armadillo Insurance argued that a potential thief might have been able to see Geraldine’s efforts to hide her handbag under the passenger seat of the car.
Gerald and Geraldine complained to FSCL. They argued that even if they had put Geraldine’s handbag in the boot, it would have been stolen anyway as the boot could be accessed from inside the car.
The policy wording did not provide cover for belongings stolen from an unattended car, where the belongings were not left in a “Locked Storage Compartment”. Armadillo Insurance was entitled under the terms of the travel insurance contract, to decline Gerald and Geraldine’s claim. Gerald and Geraldine’s legal position was not affected by the fact that they would have been covered if they had taken different precautions by storing the handbag in the boot.
We noted that, despite the clear policy wording, it would have been unreasonable for Armadillo Insurance to decline the claim if Gerald and Geraldine had no other alternative to leaving the handbag under the passenger seat. We noted, however, that Gerald and Geraldine did have alternatives:
- to store the jewellery and other high value items in the glove box with their iPhones, or
- in their suitcases (which would be more difficult for a thief to search quickly or make away with), or
- to take the handbag into the store with them.
We found we were unable to uphold the complaint.
- Travel insurance is often not as comprehensive as you might think.
- Always read your policy wording before travelling (it may be worded strictly).
- Take every precaution you can while on holiday to keep your belongings safe.