Allegations of collusion

Insurers frequently suggest or imply that the owner of a building which has burnt down was in collusion with the arsonists. Alternatively it is suggested that one of the owner’s employees colluded with the arsonist (policies often exclude liability for such fires).

However an insurer is required to produce positive proof of such an allegation. It is easy to raise suspicions of collusion when an arsonist has destroyed a building, but proof is an entirely different matter.

A perfect example of this is the recent case of Ward & Sons v Catlin where the judge rejected the insurer’s allegations of collusion. The insurers based their argument on the fact that five motion detectors had been angled upwards.

However the judge concluded that there was a “substantial possibility” that the motion detectors had been left in that position at some stage by service engineers and therefore he held that insurers had not proved their allegations.

Perhaps one of the most upsetting features of dealing with an insurance company when your premises have been destroyed by an arsonist is that insurers will often suspect that the arson was arranged by you. This allegation is easy to make and impossible to disprove.

However, as this case makes clear it is not your responsibility to disprove the allegation. It is for insurers to prove the allegation.