Owners lose claim appeal over stolen jet ski left anchored in bay

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The owners of a stolen jet ski will not have their claim paid after a dispute ruling determined that their insurer was entitled to rely on policy exclusions related to the security of the vehicle’s storage.

The complainants lodged a claim after their jet ski was stolen near their residence some time around the night of May 12 last year.

Club Marine denied the claim, saying that its policy held exclusions for losses in which the insured failed to take “reasonable precautions” against theft of unattended vehicles.

The insurer said the policy required the complainants to observe “good standards of prudence and caution” with the jet ski’s storage “to prevent and minimise theft”.

The cited exclusion mandated insured vehicles that are not in use have active alarm systems and are appropriately stored “to a fixed object using a combination of chains and locks”.

The insurer said the jet ski, which had been anchored in the bay across the road from the owners’ residence, had been left unattended without the required precautions to prevent the risk of theft.

The policyholders said the jet ski had been in a visible position and had been regularly checked on by them from their home.

They argued that it would not have been reasonably possible to secure the jet ski with chains and locks because it had been around 40 metres away from the shore and in deep water.

The complainants also noted that they equipped the vehicle with a security system that prevented it from being started without the correct key.

The insurer agreed that the security system prevented the jet ski from being started but said this did not stop it from being stolen.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) determined the vehicle had been left unattended and said it was “anchored relatively close to the shore at the time of its theft”.

The ruling said the jet ski “was inadequately secured to prevent a theft” but that the issue of the dispute was whether the owners were aware of the “risk of theft” by leaving the vehicle in its anchored location, which it admitted was “a subjective test”.

It referred to a statement from the claimants that said they would regularly check on the vehicle while they were at their home, where they had worked from.

AFCA said the constant checking showed that the complainants were “likely aware of a risk that someone could attempt to interfere or steal the jet ski by the way it was left”.

“By choosing to leave the jet ski unattended and anchored as they did, I am satisfied the complainants likely recklessly (if not deliberately) courted the risk of theft,” the ombudsman said.

The decision said Club Marine established that the policy exclusion applied in this event and was entitled to deny the claim.

Click here for the ruling.