Diamonds are forever – until they’re lost

Leonie’s fingers tend to swell during travel, so when she flew to the Gold Coast in July 2017, she placed her three diamond rings in a black pouch in her handbag.

Leonie did the same thing for the flight home two weeks later but, distressingly, when she got home she was unable to find the black pouch. She rang her travel insurer to advise that she had lost her rings, and to make a claim under her travel insurance policy. She told the insurer that she might have left the black pouch on the basin in the ladies’ toilets at the Gold Coast airport, but that it had not been handed in to airport staff.

The insurer declined Leonie’s claim. It pointed out the wording of the policy, which said that a claim for lost jewellery is excluded if the insured is not wearing the jewellery, or was not present in a bedroom with the jewellery at the time of the loss, or had not had the jewellery in a locked safe. The insurer explained that it only provides very limited cover for jewellery because any jewellery not being worn presents a high risk of loss or theft.

 

Dispute

Leonie did not accept the insurer’s view. She said that she had paid an additional premium because she needed to remove her jewellery during flights. Leonie said she always kept her jewellery with her, as the black pouch was kept in her handbag, which is always with her. Leonie complained to FSCL.

 

Review

We noted that the reason Leonie had paid an additional premium was to specify two high value items (one diamond ring and one pair of diamond earrings), not because she needed to remove her jewellery during flights. She had not mentioned to the insurer that she intended to remove her rings during the flights.

We agreed with the insurer that Leonie was not wearing her rings at the time of the loss. Although she may have had her handbag with her at all times, she had to be actually wearing the rings on her body to have cover. We also considered that the most likely explanation for the loss was the explanation Leonie gave to the insurer at the time she made her claim, namely that she had left the black pouch on the basin in the bathroom at the Gold Coast airport.

 

Outcome

We issued a preliminary view that the travel insurance policy excluded cover for Leonie’s claim. The investigation was discontinued.

 

Key insights for the consumer

It is important that people read their insurance policies carefully so that they know what is covered and what is not covered. In the case of items such as jewellery, with a high risk of being lost or stolen, the policy will usually contain exclusions that the insured should be aware of.

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