Yeganeh v Zurich plc [2010] EWHC 1185 (QB)

Property insurance - fraudulent claim

The claimant insured his house and its contents with the defendant insurers under a property policy which provided, inter alia: “If a claim is fraudulent or false in any way, we will not make any payment and all cover will end.”

The assured’s house burned down, and he made a claim for reinstatement costs in excess of £270,000 plus a further £38,788 in respect of loss of clothes.

The insurers contested liability on the grounds that: (a) the assured had deliberately set the fire; and (b) he had made claims for clothes which had not been lost in the fire.

The court held that: (a) the burden of proving that the assured had set fire to the house was borne by the insurers, and although there was no plausible explanation of how the fire had started the insurers had not proved that the assured had set the fire; and (b) the insurers had satisfied the burden of proving that the assured had fraudulently made an excessive claim for the loss of clothes.

In accordance with the fraudulent claims clause, the entire claim could be refused.