An insured boat was being driven in heavy swells when it went over a wave and landed awkwardly.  There was a bang and the engine temperature rose rapidly.  The motors were shut down and it was later discovered that the crank shaft had snapped.

Although the shaft had snapped following a heavy landing from a wave, the insurance company considered that the damage was gradual over time because a report was obtained from a metallurgist confirmed that the break had occurred due to metal fatigue which had happened over a long period of time.

The Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman concurred with the findings of the insurance company that the damage suffered was not sudden and therefore fell outside the scope of the policy.  The onus was on the insured to prove that the damage was caused by a sudden event and was not the result of long time metal fatigue.  They failed to prove that and therefore the insurer was entitled to decline the claim.

Alan Knowsley

Insurance Lawyer