Porter v Zurich Insurance Company: QBD 5 Mar 2009

The claimant insured his house with the defendants. Severely depressed, drunk and delusional, he set fire to it and now claimed after refusal to pay out. He said that he was not acting as a free agent.
Held: A claimant who seeks to recover pursuant to a policy of insurance in respect of a fire which he himself started is faced with the difficulty that his claim is contrary to public policy and/or contrary to general principles of insurance laws. He had to show that he did not know ‘the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know that he was doing what was wrong.’ He failed to establish that to the required level.

Coulson J
[2009] NPC 38, [2009] 2 All ER (Comm) 658, [2009] EWHC 376 (QB)
England and Wales
CitedDaniel M’Naghten’s Case HL 1843
Daniel M’Naghten suffered from a mental disorder under which he believed that he was being persecuted by various bodies in authority, including the Tory Party. He sought to kill the Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, but shot and killed instead . .
CitedBritton v Royal Insurance Company 1865
The insured made a claim under his insurance policy for twice the amount he had actually lost. It was an express condition of the insurance policy that a fraudulent part of a claim would avoid the balance of the claim.
Held: The duty of good . .
CitedIn re Young and Harston’s Contract CA 1885
The court set out what was meant by the term ‘wilful default’ when used in a contract for the sale of land. Bowen LJ said: ‘Wilful is a word of familiar use in every branch of law, and although in some branches of the law it may have a special . .
CitedBeresford v Royal Insurance Co Ltd HL 1938
The forfeiture rule was to be applied in a case involving suicide. An insured may not recover under a policy of insurance in respect of loss intentionally caused by his own criminal or tortious act, however clearly the wording of the policy may . .
CitedHardy v Motor Insurers’ Bureau CA 1964
The court was asked whether insurance pursuant to the Road Traffic Act 1960 would provide valid cover for the benefit of a third party injured by deliberately criminal conduct on the part of the driver.
Held: Diplock LJ said: ‘The rule of law . .
CitedGray v Barr CA 1971
A husband had accidentally shot and killed his wife’s lover after threatening him with a shotgun.
Held: The court confirmed the decision at first instance. He was not liable to be indemnified by his insurers for the losses claimed against him . .
CitedCP (A Child) v Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Ltd CA 30-Mar-2006
A mill had burned down when children had lit a fire. They had not intended the fire to get out of hand as it did. The insurance company refused to pay out on the basis that the policy did not cover damage arising from ‘any wilful malicious or . .
CitedD’Autremont v Fire Association of Philadelphia 1892
(USA) The insured was insane when he started a fire. The insurance company refused to pay.
Held: The claim succeeded. Macomber J said: ‘In actions upon policies to cover damages occasioned by loss through fire, it is not a defence which the . .
CitedHowie v CGU Insurance Plc OHCS 17-Aug-2005
The pursuer claimed under an insurance policy for damage caused by a fire which he had started. The fire had killed his mother. He was charged with murder and, at his criminal trial, the jury had returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty on the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.320873