Insurance confusion

Question from Peter updated on 17th January 2017:

I work as a lawn mowing contractor and I have Public Liability Insurance. I mow a lot of rental properties. I broke a $1000 window at a rental property the other day while line trimming (just an accident - no negligence)and I thought I would be covered by my insurance.

But my insurance company informed me my insurance would not cover this as it was the owners responsibility. They cited the Holler vs Osaki case. Tenancy Services also said it was the owners responsibility, citing the same case. The property management company disagrees with this and said I am liable as I am a contractor and my insurer needs to come to the party. Who is correct?



Our expert Myles Noble responded:

Firstly, the Holler vs Osaki decision has no application in this situation as the lawn-mowing contractor was not a tenant in the owner’s building.

Secondly, the fact that you may not be legally liable is not a valid reason to decline your public liability claim. The claim should be accepted if your alleged legal liability is of the type covered under the policy (which is likely). If you weren’t negligent, the policy provides cover for your legal defence costs to defend the allegation if it is pursued.

Myles Noble is head of claims and earthquake response for Crombie Lockwood. He also holds various advisory board positions in the insurance industry.

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