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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69369
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello My insurance policy says; "We will pay for loss of

Customer Question

Hello
My insurance policy says;
"We will pay for loss of or damage to your boat caused by theft or attempted theft following forcible entry"
My boat was stolen and they will not pay up as they claim there was no forcible entry.
What exactly is meant by the policy ....
Does it mean that they will pay for (Scenario 1)
Theft
or
attempted theft following a forcible entry

OR

does it mean that they will pay for (Scenario 2)

Theft *(following a forcible entry)*
or
attempted theft following a forcible entry.


IF the Insurers intended Scenario 2 to be the case, do you think a different wording should be used.

Thanking you in anticipation ....
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

The simple answer is that this wording is ambiguous and both meanings could be taken. Ambiguities in contracts are bad generally speaking but it does give you some options here.

The insurers are obviously refusing to pay because they a rely on scenario two. That is all very well but you do have a challenge to their interpretation.

You can complain to the Ombudsman for free.

If you want to take any real action though then you will have to sue. You have a contract like any other with your insurance company. If they breach it then they are liable to pay you damages to the sum of your loss. This is a simple enough claim for the value of your boat.

That is likely to exceed the small claims court so costs will be an issue but it depends how strongly you feel about this.

It is difficult to predict how a court would interpret this. I think that a Court would not like their attempt to escape liability in circumstances of theft and so will be disposed in your favour. I do think that there is an argument that the words of the contract support interpretation one. Obviously though there is a risk a Judge would find against you and then costs would be an issue.

On your substantive point, personally, if I had meant to convey meaning two I would have said 'theft following forcibly entry or attempted theft following forcibly' entry or something similar to that.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Jo, thank you for that. Is there an onus on the insurer to write the policy/contract with no ambiguity. It is such a simple point and because they have left it unclear, I fear they must have done so deliberately.
Regards senan
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No, but where there is ambiguity in a contract, as a general principle of law, courts will interpret it against the party seeking to rely upon it.

The court isn't going to like the fact that they are trying to exclude liability for theft.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69369
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the positive rating and remember that I am always available to help with your questions. For future information, please start your question with ‘FOR JO C’

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