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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 8107
Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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Our insurer has defined ‘unoccupied’ in their policy

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Our insurer has defined ‘unoccupied’ in their policy document to mean ‘unoccupied by a family member’. We have had a house-sitter living in our house, and the insurer is claiming that while she was living there, the house was unoccupied, and is refusing a claim from us on that basis. It’s absurd to say a house is unoccupied when somebody is living there. I’m aware of the ‘forks and spades’ observation from Street v Mountford - is this a similar case? Would a court be likely to throw out their definition?
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Sorry, to be clearer, they have defined ‘occupied’ to mean ‘occupied by a family member’


I am a solicitor.

Please upload a copy of your policy.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Thanks very much JA, here it is

You are welcome.

This is what the policy says:

When your home has not been lived in by you or any member of your family for longer than the ‘Days unoccupied
limit’ shown in your Home Policy Schedule. By ‘lived in’ we mean that you or any member of your family has slept in
the home overnight and regularly carried out day-to-day activities such as cleaning, cooking and bathing. If the home
is unoccupied for more than the number of days shown in your policy documents, we consider your home to have
been unoccupied from the first day."

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
That’s right!

How much is it stake?

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
We expect 5K to 8K

I am sympathetic with you but equally, the policy wording is clear that they should have been notified.

You may take the matter up to the Financial Ombudsman Service and see if they agree with your view. It is free to make a complaint with them (having first gone through the insurers complains procedure) failing which you would have to go to court and see if the court is willing to take your side.

I am afraid my personal view is that it is not clear cut.

May I help further?

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
OK, thanks very much JA, I appreciate it. No, that’s all I need thanks.

You are welcome.

Good luck

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