Here’s s a not-so-fun fact - KZN is the capital of jewellery store
heists. So what happens if your precious heirloom is taken while at the
store? Wendy Knowler has the details...
Here’s s a not-so-fun fact - KZN is the capital of jewellery store heists. So what happens if your precious heirloom is taken while at the store? Wendy Knowler has the details...
Listen to today's Consumerwatch topic below, or read the details under the podcast.
Here’s s a not-so-fun fact - KZN is the capital of jewellery store heists. So says Andrew Sokolich of Halcyon Financial Solutions - he’s an East London-based insurance broker specialising in the jewellery and precious metals wholesale and retail sector.
He’s dealt with 175 claims relating
to jewellery store hold-ups and safe breaks in the last five years, so it’s
fair to say he some experience in the financial impact of these brazen heists.
“In the last three months there have been between six and
10 hold-ups in KZN alone,” he says, “usually one of the jewellery chain stores
where there is a lot of gold and diamonds exposed, and also the high end stores
with the more expensive watches such as Rolex and Breitling.”
One of Sokolich’s 168 jewellery store clients is the KZN
store which was robbed last June - in a couple of minutes they cleaned the
place out; the store stock as well as a few dozen items belonging to customers,
including a R90 000 diamond ring belonging to Louise Wilson of Kloof. We
featured her story on Consumerwatch last month.
She’d taken it to the store for cleaning and a valuation in June 2015 and then agreed to let them hold on to it with a view to selling it for her. She kept in contact with the jewellers during the course of the next year, and each time she was told the ring hadn’t sold. It was during one of those visits that she got some very bad news - there’d been a robbery at the store, and her ring was among the many items of jewellery and watches taken by the gunmen.
She hadn’t insured her ring - she’d kept it in a safe in
her home until she took it to the jewellers. And she was told that the store’s insurance did not cover
On the slip she was given when she handed the ring in, a staff member wrote: “To supply valuation. Client would prefer to sell.”
Not a word about having to make sure that she insured the
The Consumer Protection Act imposes a heavy duty of care on the shop - to exercise the care, diligence and skill that can be expected of someone managing the property of someone else.
But in the case of an armed robbery, Sokolich says, there
can be no claim of negligence.
And the jeweller himself suffered a massive loss. His
premium was R80 000 a month but he was still under insured - he was paid out R7
million by his insurer, but he lost R16 million worth of stock. And that’s just the issue, Sokolich says.
It’s virtually impossible for jewellers to have adequate
insurance to cover all clients’ jewellers. So when there’s a large claim, as in
Louise’s case, they cover their own stock first and there’s not enough for the
So here’s the advice: Firstly to jewellery stores, from both Sokolich and Lorna
Lloyd of the Jewellery Council of SA: Be upfront with your customers about the
fact that their jewellery is not insured on your premises.
Lloyd suggests that jewellery stores get customers to
sign a disclaimer that reads something like: "By signing this invoice, the
customer hereby acknowledges his /her duty to have the item insured at all
times whilst it is in the possession of the jeweller and the customer hereby
agrees and accepts full liability."
Of course, if a store WAS guilty of gross negligence or
recklessness in handling or safeguarding a jewellery item, the company would be
liable to reimburse the customer for the full value of the item, in terms of
the Consumer Protection Act.
Advice for consumers:
If you do have insurance on a piece of jewellery under
All Risks, and you take it to a jewellery story for a resizing, remodelling or
valuation, be sure to inform your insurer because if it gets stolen from there,
your claim is likely to be rejected.
And finally, Sokolich warns consumers not to leave their
jewellery in a jewellery store for safekeeping because they think it’s too
expensive to insure at home.
“Many consumers feel that their jewellery items are safer
in the jewellery store’s safe than in their home,” Sokolich says, “But
insurance law does not cover those items. They cannot hold items for clients
unless they are being repaired or unless they have been invoiced in as
consignment stock. I have so many court cases going on at the moment where
people have left jewellery with their jeweller for up to five years, and when
it’s stolen they can’t understand why the store’s insurance won’t pay them
As for Louise and the loss of her R90 000 ring, all I can say is that a settlement is being negotiated.
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