Category Legal Affairs

Burglary claim fails for failure to install a burglar alarm (US)

16 August 2021 Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright
Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright

Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright

The roof of a sweet shop was damaged when a tree fell onto the building and destroyed part of the roof on 9 April 2019. On 19 May 2019 it suffered an additional loss from a burglary by thieves who entered through the broken roof. The claim failed because of a breach of a policy requirement to install a monitored burglar alarm.

The policy contained a “burglary and robbery protective safeguard” endorsement which stated that coverage for theft was conditional on the insured obtaining and maintaining a burglar alarm that is monitored by an outside central station or police station.  The insurer was not required to pay for any theft if the insured knowingly failed to maintain the required burglar alarm.  The insured submitted that the alarm would have been pointless considering that the hole in the roof caused by the fallen tree was the entry point for thieves.  The court found that it need not resolve whether the burglar alarm would have been effective in stopping the theft because the parties themselves agreed, as a matter of contract, that having such an alarm was a condition precedent to coverage under the policy.  As the insured had failed to meet the required coverage condition of having a monitored burglar alarm the claim was dismissed.

It is refreshing to see an insured party held to the plain provisions of their contract without arguments regarding causation in a clear case of breach.

[Harvey Sweet Shop and Seafood LLC v Western World Insurance Co case number 2:21-cv-00531 US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana]

First published by: Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot

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