The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman has found an insurer has unreasonably declined an insurance claim about a theft overseas.

The client had been travelling overseas when their bag containing cash and electronics was stolen. They made a complaint to the local police immediately, but were told the loss of items had to be advertised in the local newspaper before a report could be provided. This would take two weeks, by which time the client would have returned to New Zealand.

The client arranged the advertisement regardless and made a claim with their insurer once they arrived home. However, the insurer declined the claim as a police report was not provided.

Upon investigation the Ombudsman emphasised that the obligation to provide evidence of loss is only what is reasonable at the time the incident occurred.

Additionally, it was noted the Insurance agreement stated that the report did not have to be obtained if it was not “reasonably practicable”. Given that an advertisement had to be placed in the newspaper, and the client had to return to New Zealand, it was unreasonable for the insurer to decline the claim.

Insurance agreements are often complex documents that include exceptions and requirements to be met before a claim is accepted. If you have a disagreement with your insurer surrounding a claim, it is advisable you consult a professional experienced in the area.

Alan Knowsley
Litigation Lawyer