The insurance definition of unattended items is a tricky one. Believe it or not this case history was made in the 1960’s when a sales rep left his car in a layby on A road. Then watched with disbelief as his car was driven off and his samples were stolen. The judge ruled the items were unattended and not insured; are the same judges making the rules today?

The rule of thumb is whether or not you are close enough to the items to affect the outcome of a theft or other loss. If you don’t notice an item disappearing, cannot give chase or fail to intervene when an incident is occurring your policy may not pay out. Examples are laptops left in the luggage rack of a train, samples or equipment left in a hotel room, jewellery or cameras put in luggage kept in the hold, anything left in a vehicle or unlocked building.

Insurers are not likely to pay out if you cannot prove otherwise. I heard of a car boot being broken into at an airport and £7,500 luggage being stolen. Fair enough they were high rollers yet only £750 was offered in settlement. The original 1960’s case mentioned above followed the theft of diamonds left in the glove box of a car. They car was left for less than a minute. The diamonds were gone. The claim was declined.

Not all cases are this clear cut. As evidenced when sneak thieves rummage through bags on trains or at busy train stations. In theory, the owner was close enough to prevent the loss — yet they didn’t. They probably didn’t notice their property disappearing. Would you?

Top Tips

Always check the definition of unattended items in any policy covering items away from your premises. Interpret it in the worst case possible and keep a tight rein on anything you don’t want to lose. And check which policy you should claim from, your adviser will help you make the best choice. Visit our top tips page for more free information.