Can my flatmates claim under my insurance?

Question Details: One of my flatmates leaves his window open when he goes out. Usually this is pretty useful because whenever I forget my key I can just use the window. But now someone has broken in and stolen 3 laptops from our place. If I have insurance for theft will I be able to claim for this? If my flatmates do not have insurance will they be able to claim for their stolen belongings under my insurance policy too?

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

Whether your contents insurance policy extends to your flatmates depends on the terms of the policy itself, but it would be very unusual for your flatmates to be able to claim.

Contents insurance policies will often cover the personal belongings of immediate family members living permanently with you (so a parent's policy would usually cover their son's stolen laptop). However it would be unusual for a policy to cover the personal belongings of a non-family member you were living with on a temporary basis. Again, at the end of the day this depends on the wording of the policy. We would suggest going back and giving your policy another read. If that doesn't offer any clues you should contact your insurer and ask them to shed some light on the situation.

The open window may cause you some trouble when claiming under your policy. Most contents insurance policies place an obligation on you to protect your property. Usually you won't get a payment on insurance if you have been "grossly careless or negligent". This is quite a high threshold, you have to have done something very careless or negligent. Unfortunately leaving a window open will generally be careless or negligent enough to invalidate a claim.

Answered 25 Jun 2012. The IMPORTANT NOTICE below is part of this answer.

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