Insurance headache at ‘Store It’ facility

A major blaze in the Store It facility in Ballymount off the M50 in Dublin has destroyed the building and the contents of the storage units.

More than 50 firefighters have been battling the fire since the alarm was raised at 10.15am on 29th April 2015. They expect to remain at the scene for a further 24 hours as the fire continues to smoulder.

Once the fire brigade and forensic investigators leave the scene, the owners take back control of the building.  This is where the insurance implications enter into sharp focus.

Insurance Implications

Under the Accidental Fires Act 1943, there is no liability for the spread of fire unless it has been negligently started.  Most fires are accidental in nature e.g. electrical fault, or there is no proof of the cause.

It is up to each individual/business to insure their own property.  The storage facility will have had an option for customers to take out cover on their goods whilst in storage, but this is optional.  There could be several hundred customers all looking for answers now.

Most household/commercial policies include automatic cover for ‘contents temporarily removed’, however some have a limit of 10/20% of the sum insured on contents/stock. Many household policies have an exclusion for contents in a furniture repository.  In the absence of a specific agreement to cover contents or stock at a storage facility the automatic stated limits apply.

What about Goods in Trust?

Many people believe that if they leave their goods in trust, e.g. in a laundrete, they expect to get them back in good condition.  However that is not necessarily the case for a storage facility.  They are not carrying out any process to the goods and they are very specific about not accepting liability for damage to goods whilst in storage, i.e. they are only renting the space to the customer.  Some business owners who hold goods belonging to customers can decide to insure an item for customers goods, but there is no legal obligation on them to do so and it can be difficult to establish the value at risk exposure in advance.

What to do next?

Even if there is cover in place, the complex nature of making an insurance claim following the fire will cause many to have difficulty in compiling and negotiating their claim, or getting answers to their questions.  How do you provide an inventory of what you had in storage?  Engaging a loss assessor to handle such a loss will help to streamline the process and will take the hassle out of dealing with loss adjusters appointed by insurers.

Call Balcombes on 1800 506 700 for more information, or talk to your insurance broker or insurance provider.

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