Tiny window, big loss

Alvin arranged travel insurance to cover him while he was studying in New Zealand.

One day Alvin came home to discover his house had been broken into and jewellery worth about $5,000 had been stolen. Alvin called the police, who discovered the offender had got into the house through an open window.

Alvin lodged an insurance claim, but the insurer declined the claim, referring to a policy exclusion for items left in an unattended unlocked building. Alvin complained to FSCL.



Alvin said that he left a very small window open for air flow ventilation and it did not occur to him that someone would be able to fit through such a tiny window. Alvin did not consider he had been careless and thought that the insurer should cover his loss.



We reviewed all the information about the complaint, including the police report and the insurance policy. The police report confirmed that the point of entry was through the open window.

While the insurer agreed to cover Alvin for lost personal effects, we explained that the insurer had excluded from cover items stolen from an unlocked and unattended building because an unlocked, unattended building presented a much higher risk to the insurer.

Although the window was small, and it might not have occurred to Alvin that anyone would be able to climb through it, the fact remained that someone did. If the window had been closed, the offender would likely not have been able to get into Alvin’s house.



We explained to Alvin that we considered the insurer was entitled to decline his claim, relying on the policy exclusion for items stolen from an unlocked and unattended building. Alvin was disappointed, but accepted our view and withdrew his complaint.


Insights for consumers

It is important that you always lock your house, including closing and securing all your windows, to reduce the chance of a break in. If your house is secure, and an offender forces entry, it is more likely your insurer will cover your loss.