£191,250 compensation for ring theft victim

Credit: MCT/SIPA USA/PA Images

A woman who had precious stones stolen from two rings by a jeweller has won £191,250 in compensation after complaining to the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) that her insurer had refused to pay out.

The complainant, known only as Miss A, purchased the rings in 2011 and contacted a jeweller in 2015 when she wanted to sell them.

The jeweller kept the rings in a secure facility while a buyer was found, but when none came forward she asked for them back. It was then that she noticed something was wrong.

Another jeweller established they were fakes and the real stones had been replaced.

After reporting the matter to the police and then her insurer, she was told her claim was not eligible as the loss came about through “deception” rather than “theft”.

The CIFO determined the definition of “deception” had not been clearly defined in the insurance policy.

It ruled that the insurer should pay the maximum compensation it is able to enforce, of £150,000, and recommended the insurer also pay the balance of £41,250.

The insurer subsequently agreed.

CIFO determined that the complainant trusted the original dealer and that this trust extended to his jeweller contact. CIFO felt that Mrs A’s transfer of the items for the purpose of sale was neither careless nor irresponsible and the jewellery store’s security arrangements were suitable. CIFO also determined that the insurers did not require prior notification of the rings’ transfer to the jewellery store because this was not listed as a material change that required notification under Mrs A’s insurance policy.

Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman

It was one of 389 complaints received by the ombudsman in 2019, the majority of which were about banking, investments and insurance.

£4,483

The average compensation claim in 2019.

CIFO resolves complaints against financial services providers– fairly and impartially – as an informal alternative to the courts. The availability of redress if something goes wrong helps to support public confidence in financial services, within the Channel Islands and internationally. We also provide impartial information about issues which arise from complaints referred to us.

David Thomas, Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman Chariman