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Most household contents insurance policies include the condition that not only must the premises be locked, both doors and windows, but that entry must be “forced and violent”.
Burglary claims are frequently denied because the insurer alleges that the entry was not “forced and violent”. Many such cases have been wrongfully repudiated by insurers who take unfair advantage of their policy holders ignorance of the law.
OK, so what is the law.? What does “forced and violent entry mean? That the door had to be blown of its hinges to meet this condition? No, not at all… the answer is much more simple.
The answer is in the Case Law; so let’s take look at what the Court has said about this condition. The following seminal cases form some of the Case Law in this regard:
Calf v The Sun Insurance Office (1920) the Court said:
“If a person turns a key he uses force but not violence. If he uses a skeleton key, he uses force but not violence. If on the other hand, instead of using a key, he uses a pick-lock or some other instrument or a piece of wire, by which as a lever he forces back the lock, it appears to me that he uses force and violence.”
Any means of overcoming locks other than the normal means to operate them would constitute both force and violence, within the context of a theft policy,
Dino Services Limited v Prudential Assurance Company Limited (1989) Summary of court judgement:
The definition of the force and violence has been considered at law for over a 100 years, and the current position is that the force and violence need only be very minimal.
The word ‘forced’ or ‘forcible’ is not really a problem. This means that damage was incurred beyond the normal and reasonable consequences of opening the door as designed e.g. with the appropriate key. It is the term “violent” that is more difficult to define because violence is not usually used in the context of inanimate objects. In the context of a policy of insurance against theft from premises by 'forcible and violent' means of entry, the word 'violent' was to be construed according to its ordinary meaning and meant entry by the use of any force which was accentuated or accompanied by a physical act which could properly be described as violent in nature and character. Therefore, the use of force can itself be construed as a violent act, and in this regard the two words go hand in hand.
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