Gross negligence – when the insurance does not pay?
Your apartment burned down after you plugged in your stove yourself to save the cost of an electrician. Your house was broken into after you left the kitchen window open. Or your car is wrecked because you ran a stop sign: Carelessness can cost you – despite insurance coverage. We show you what you need to know about gross negligence.
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From time to time, unfortunately, insured persons also have to deal with legal intricacies. One of them is the so-called gross negligence. Background: In the case of damage caused by slight negligence, the insurance company will always pay, but never in the case of damage caused intentionally. The gross negligence lies somewhere in the middle. Therefore, it always depends on the clauses of the respective policy and the specific individual case, how much the insurance then pays.
Three important questions:
What is gross negligence actually??
Gross negligence, according to the official definition, is when there was a major disregard for the necessary duty of care in bringing about an insured event. Translated, this means as much as: You have not only acted by mistake, but have acted very imprudently despite knowledge of an existing risk. The topic plays a particularly important role in the case of household contents-. The (motor) liability insurance. Gross negligence is present here, for example, when
– a burglar could get into your apartment because you "tilted" an easily accessible window,
– a candle not extinguished by you before leaving the house or a pan with oil forgotten on the stove caused a fire,
– there was an accident because you checked a message on your cell phone while driving.
And the consequences?
Damage caused by gross negligence can, depending on the contract clauses, result in the insurance company not paying or reducing its benefits (so-called quotation). How much the company pays out in the event of a reduction in benefits depends on the respective severity of the insured person's fault. Often this is exactly the point of dispute between the parties, as the case law does not provide any concrete figures for the quota system. The amount of reduction here is at the discretion of the insurer -. Is often reviewed in court.
How to avoid this uncertainty?
Good policies waive the "gross negligence defense" in their clauses. In other words: They also settle damages caused by you grossly negligent without objections and to the full extent. "The insured has more legal security with such contracts – he can save himself lengthy disputes," explains Michael Schwarz, head of property insurance at MLP.
With their overview of the market, MLP consultants can help you find the right policy. "In addition, it is worthwhile to check older contracts and adjust them if necessary. Because there, the gross negligence benefit is often not fully covered," says Schwarz.
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