News Advanta News - June 2014

Advanta News - June 2014

Jun 13, 2014
The Magnificent Power of Sunlight

It’s summer in Europe and a few weeks ago I was basking in the glorious Italian sunshine, toying with a very chilled glass of local wine, reminiscing with friends and enjoying the wonderful scenery when suddenly and without warning I felt a severe and concentrated burning pain in my hand: the wine glass was acting as a magnifying glass; OUCH! I quickly moved my hand and thankfully Bacchus, recognising a devotee, ensured that not a single drop was spilled.

‘There is nothing like first-hand evidence’

It reminded me of a particular Products Liability claim where a recently-purchased, globally-branded, music keyboard was ‘clearly responsible for the ensuing extensive fire damage’ and therefore an ‘open and shut case’.

The fire had started in a bedroom. The keyboard was the only electrical product in the vicinity of the seat of fire. The spread pattern was slightly unusual but it did indeed seem like an ‘open and shut case’.

The Insured, a household name, was particularly anxious to confirm whether their product, which was one of many thousand sold worldwide, was responsible for the fire and the potential global repercussions.

Detailed Forensic laboratory tests carried out on the remains of the keyboard and power supply found that they were not the cause of the fire. Furthermore, there was no forensic evidence of any other source of ignition.

‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’

Loss Adjusters, Sherlock Holmes, Forensic Scientists and Insurers have one thing in common in that they like to know the truth, and so our Forensic Scientist returned to the property and based upon his discussions with the tenant and pre-fire photographs reconstructed the scene.

The bedroom window faced West, South-West. The tenant confirmed that there was a two-sided make-up mirror, on a table in close proximity to the window. Enquiries of the Meteorological Office confirmed that there were prolonged periods of sunshine in the area during the afternoon of the incident. In conclusion the only plausible explanation for the origin of the fire was the sun shining through the window onto the mirror and focusing of the sun’s rays onto combustible material, such as the curtains. This explanation was accepted as being the true cause of the fire by all parties.

The above serves to remind us that the cause isn’t always the obvious one, that the bigger picture for the Insured and Insurers is often more important than the individual claim and that timely use of experts is crucial to establishing the cause.

Product liability insurance covers the cost of compensating anyone who is injured by a faulty product that the Insured business designs, manufactures or supplies.

Product liability insurance is required if a business designs, manufactures or supplies a physical product that is sold or given away for free.

A business may be held legally responsible for any injuries to people or damage to property caused by a faulty product.

A business can be held liable for faulty products even if they did not manufacture them.

Product liability insurance protects a business against the cost of compensation for: personal injuries caused by their faulty product; loss of or damage to property caused by their faulty product; unforeseeable circumstances such as product faults that their quality control system could not identify.

Product liability insurance may not cover a business for: Faulty products resulting from bad workmanship; financial losses to a business or person caused by their faulty product.

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