Burglary Insurance: Absence of Force Will Mean No Burglary ClaimPosted: October 15, 2016
A Supreme Court (SC) judgement on a theft claim filed by a public sector unit in Odisha states, “In the absence of violence or force, the insured cannot claim indemnification against the insurance company. The terms of the policy have to be construed as it is and we cannot add or subtract something. Howsoever liberally we may construe the policy, we cannot take liberalism to the extent of substituting the words which are not intended.” It is based on another 2004 SC judgement. The new SC judgement is clear that the terms of the policy are sacrosanct; it can’t be subjected to interpretation. The liability of the insurer would depend strictly on the policy conditions.
Home insurance, travel insurance, commercial insurance, etc, may cover ‘burglary’ and not ‘theft’. For a layman, both seem to be same. ‘Burglary’ is theft that has to be accompanied by forced entry, violence, or threat of violence. ‘Theft’ may not have a forceful or violent entry to cause a loss to residential or commercial property. It can even be an insider job by an employee or a family member.
Your case may fall under a long list of exclusions, or the semantics of the policy, which differentiates between ‘theft’ and ‘burglary’. Burglary is the criminal offence of breaking into and entering a building illegally for the purpose of committing a crime. On the other hand, theft is the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods usually without force. If the home insurance policy excludes burglary and covers only theft, then you are at a disadvantage. What about theft or burglary while travelling?
Moneylife had written about the case of Cox & Kings (C&K) tourists being robbed in a bus in Italy which was not covered by the insurer. (Read http://tinyurl.com/hcojgq9). It helps to clarify what is burglary versus theft which is applicable to home as well as travel insurance. While buying travel insurance, customers hardly know what is really covered.