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Fire claim thrown out over parking spot change 

A driver who failed to tell his insurer where his vehicle was being stored has lost his bid to have it covered for fire damage.

The man lodged a claim in April last year after the Range Rover worth more than $100,000 was destroyed.

During an investigation, insurer SGUAS found the complainant had been keeping the vehicle at his brother’s property, either in front of the house or in the driveway. But the insurer said the man had stated the vehicle was parked in the garage of his own property in Schofields, NSW.

The claimant later said the car was at the Schofields home until April 2022, when he moved to his brother’s house while renovating his new property in Kenthurst.

The man lived with his brother for more than a year until last May. He said renovating the Kenthurst property had been a “bigger job than he expected” and he intended to sell the property. 

SGUAS said the insured misrepresented where the vehicle was stored, noting the man had not informed it about the change in location during a policy renewal in September 2022.  

The complainant said he did not tell his insurer about the change of address because his brother’s home was considered a “transitory place until the renovations at Kenthurst were finished”.    

In a dispute ruling, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority says the man had, at that time, already been at his brother’s property for more than five months.    

“When the policy was renewed, the car was not typically parked overnight in an individual garage in Schofields,” the authority said. “It was typically parked overnight on the street or in a driveway in North Kellyville. The complainant made a misrepresentation to the insurer.”   

The authority accepts SGUAS’ assessment that it would not have renewed the policy if it had known where the car was parked. Its underwriting guidelines state parking arrangements are a “major risk factor” for valuable vehicles such as the claimant’s Range Rover.    

“The guidelines say the insurer will not cover vehicles of this type if they are parked on the street or in a driveway,” the authority said. “If the complainant told the insurer where the car was typically parked overnight, the insurer would not have renewed the policy, and would not have been on risk at the time of the fire. Therefore, under section 28 of [the Insurance Contracts Act 1984], the insurer’s liability for the claim is reduced to nil.”   

The insurer is required to repay any premium paid after the September renewal date.   

Click here for the ruling.