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Plot problem

edited February 2018 in Writing
I need a reason for the insurance company not to pay out after a fire. The fire is in a shop. It was started deliberately but not by the owner. I was thinking about having no batteries in the fire alarm but I imagine the whole thing would melt anyway. Any ideas?


  • Something flammable stored there that shouldn't have been?
    Sprinklers should have been installed and weren't?
  • Shop not locked properly so person who started it could get in?
    Forgot to pay premiums?
  • It doesn't have to be something material. They will go through the smallprint and see if there's some minor discrepancy with the insured property. That might be a tad technical but it could something minor (to us).
  • And I think they would be able to tell if there were no batteries in the alar eve after it has melted, action of acid and traces of heavy metals etc. But perhaps it needs to be something more obvious like as well as it been started deliberately, where it was started deliberately there was a badly wired plug or something like that - because the source of the fire is the first thing they look for, and if your reason does not match the place the fire was started in the story this already makes it unbelievable.

    Why not Google 'insurance won't pay out on my fire' and see the reasons insurance have given?
  • The insurance company itself is in financial difficulties and is reeling out as much red tape as possible so as not to pay out.
  • If it's a modern building the alarms will be sealed units with rechargeable batteries that are fed from the mains. A flick of the fuse box would stop them recharging but there would be a certain amount of juice left.
  • A place near my hairdressers was in our local paper today. They had a bad fire a couple of days ago. The cause was different...

  • The owners don't know where all the keys to the shop are?
  • edited February 2018
    They didn't use the requisite fire-proof material for their shelving;

    They hadn't fitted a proper fire door;

    An ash tray was found with butts in it - infringement of No Smoking rules;

    The coffee urn didn't have an electrical safety sticker on it/the wires were exposed;

    A bottle of (flammable) nail varnish remover was found in the Ladies;

    A faulty phone charger had been left plugged in.
  • I'd go and ask at a local fire station.
  • Crikey, just realised my insurance is invalid on 3 different counts.

    Thanks for all of those. Spontaneously combusting tea towels, Carol. Who knew that was a thing.
  • Sorry, but smouldering T towels are NOT spontaneously combusting.
  • This thread reminded me to talk to Axa about taking the car abroad. Bloody 80 euros extra to cover us - and no we can't have breakdown cover because we had breakdown cover last time we went... go figure!
  • edited February 2018
    Sorry, but smouldering T towels are NOT spontaneously combusting.
    Never let reality get in the way of our newspaper reporters... :D

  • My wife works for the local Fire Authority and is a legal executive. I posed your query to her and she sent this. Hope it is of use.

    Arson in itself might be included on the policy as a get out.
    They might have a wired detection system that had been installed incorrectly – if insurer could prove it had been installed by someone not certified they may not pay out. On a proper system (not just a smoke alarm which may insufficient in a shop anyway) the cables/internal metal box would likely remain unless a very ferocious burn.
  • Wow, thanks Kramer. Didn't expect such a well qualified answer. I'll go for the arson scenario.
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