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Consider your verdict: Does motor insurer pay for fire caused while immobilised vehicle being repaired?

09 January 2019Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright
Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright

Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright

Here is a nice exercise for you.

The UK Supreme Court has heard argument and will soon be giving judgment on the question whether a UK motor policy extends to liability for damage to the property of third parties because of fire caused by repair work to the car when it is immobilised.

A mechanic was trying to weld plates underneath his own car and negligently set fire to seat covers. The fire spread rapidly to rubber mats next to the car, then through the premises where he worked and then into several neighbouring buildings. The damages amount to more than GBP2 million. At the time the car battery was disconnected and the car had been pushed up on its side by a forklift. The policy booklet said ‘We will cover you for your legal responsibility if you have an accident in your vehicle and; you kill or injure someone; you damage their property; or you damage their vehicle’.

It is illegal in the UK not to have insurance ‘in respect of any liability which may be incurred or damage to property caused by, arising out of, the use of the vehicle on a road or other public place’.

What do you think, on these facts and policy conditions, the decision will be? I will publish a blog when the judgment is delivered so that you can see how you have done.

The case is R&S Pilling T/A Phoenix Engineering v UK Insurance Ltd.

 

First published by: Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot

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