Insurers not liable for £250,000 damage

Posted: 16th October 2012

Motor insurers whose client smashed the windows of a department store will not have to pay the £250,000 repair bill because the driver’s policy did not cover him for damage caused by his own deliberate acts, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The driver was travelling at speeds of up to 100mph and deliberately drove into a wall before colliding with the windows of the House of Fraser store, in Cabot Circus shopping centre, Bristol, in December 2008. He was later sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment for dangerous driving and causing criminal damage.Cabotcircus

The driver’s insurers pointed out that their client’s policy was subject to an exclusion of liability in respect of accidents caused by his deliberate acts. However, the shop’s insurers, who initially covered the cost of replacing the windows, argued that, on a proper construction of domestic and European law, the driver’s insurers were liable regardless of the policy exclusion.

Allowing an appeal by the motor insurers against an earlier ruling that they were liable for the damage, Lord Justice Ward, sitting with Lord Justice McFarlane and Dame Janet Smith, said that the driver’s actions fell squarely within the exclusion and his vehicle was therefore uninsured at the time of the accident.