Blog - January 12, 2024
Office Break-Ins. What Is A Forcible Entry/Exit And How Do You Prove It?
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Over the last 10 years, we’ve dealt with dozens of break-ins to our clients’ offices – from quick smash and grabs involving a single laptop through to fully planned robberies designed to give burglars the maximum time to take items.

Regardless of whether it’s quick and spontaneous or well thought out beforehand, one crucial area when it comes to claiming on insurance is the need for forcible entry and/or exit.

In this blog post, we discuss what forcible entry and exit means, how it compares to full theft, and provide information on how to evidence a break-in for insurance purposes.


What do we mean by forcible entry and exit?

In the context of insurance and property security, forcible entry and exit refers to situations where an unauthorised person either gains access to or makes their escape from a property as part of a theft. By its nature, it requires the use of physical force.

Forcible entry occurs when a burglar or intruder gains access to a property by using physical force to breach locks, doors, windows, or other entry points. This could include smashing windows, breaking down doors, or using tools to bypass security measures.

Forcible exit is the opposite – it’s when an intruder leaves the property forcefully, often after committing a theft or other illegal activity. This might involve breaking through doors or windows as they escape. It tends to happen when thieves tailgate into a building and hide until the office has closed.

Additionally, insurance policies will usually include ‘threat of violence’ in the definition of force. For example, if an intruder uses a knife to threaten someone that’s about to lock up the premises so that they can steal items, this would typically be covered by the policy.

Insurers often add a forcible entry/exit condition to the policy if the office or space is shared or where the policyholder doesn’t have sole control of it.


What’s the difference between forcible entry/exit and full theft?

Forcible entry and exit is usually present for a theft, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes property is taken without forcible entry to, or exit from, the premises – maybe someone entered an open door during the day and swiped a laptop, for instance. So, how does an office insurance policy respond then?

For these types of theft to be covered, the insurance needs to go beyond simple forcible entry/exit cover and instead provide protection for walk-in theft. This is often referred to as ‘full theft’ cover. The two types of cover differ in three main ways:

  1. Coverage

Many insurance policies cover theft, but they might have specific clauses regarding forcible entry. Full theft is a wider cover, and sometimes more expensive. Insurers will generally only quote on a full-theft basis if the business has complete control of their office space, so they won’t usually provide that cover for co-working spaces.

  1. Evidence

Forcible entry/exit claims require evidence of the breach itself. So, to get a claim accepted without undue hassle, evidence of the damage caused by the entry or exit is recommended – whether that’s photos of broken doors or windows, copies of police reports, or detailed descriptions of the forced entry. In a full theft, less evidence is usually required, and typically revolves around the missing or damaged property.

  1. Claims process

The claims process can differ slightly for the two scenarios. For forcible entry or exit, the insurance company may opt to send a loss adjuster to investigate. They will confirm that the break-in happened as described before the insurer processes and pays out the claim.


How to prove to your insurers that there was a break-in

To support an insurance claim involving forcible entry or exit, follow these steps:

  1. Contact the authorities

Notify the police immediately and file a report. The police report will serve as critical evidence of a break-in, and will also come with a crime reference number. Insurers will generally reject a theft claim without one of these.

  1. Take photographic evidence

Take clear photographs or videos of the damaged entry or exit points, including any relevant locks on the doors or windows. These images can help prove the use of force.

  1. Gather witness statements

If there were witnesses to the break-in or the subsequent exit, gather their statements. Witnesses can corroborate the events and provide valuable testimony.

  1. Build an inventory list

Create a detailed list of stolen or damaged items. Include their descriptions, estimated values, and any relevant receipts or documentation.

  1. Analyse security measures

Provide information on any security measures in place (alarms, security cameras, locks, etc.) and their condition at the time of the incident. Where alarms were in place, insurers will want to see evidence that they were in operation at the time. Assuming they were triggered, they will need to see alarm reports.

  1. Fill out an insurance claim form

In the event that your insurer requires a completed claim form, fill it out thoroughly. If you’re unsure on any aspect, run through it with your broker – after all, that’s what a decent broker is there for (and any unwilling to help should be avoided in the first place!)

  1. Arrange a loss adjuster inspection

Be prepared to allow the loss adjuster to inspect the property and assess the damage. They’ll likely ask questions which you already have provided answers for, but may also request additional evidence. It’s unavoidable if you want the claim to go through without delay, so it’s best just to provide everything asked for as quickly as possible. We’d also suggest seeing if your broker will either attend the visit with you or at least talk you through what to expect beforehand.


Take out the right office break-in cover with RiskBox

Forcible entry and exit claims are an essential aspect of commercial Property insurance, especially if your office is a co-working space or you don’t have sole control over it. Remember to consult your specific insurance policy and provider for their requirements and guidelines when making a claim related to forcible entry or exit.


And if you’re unsure or want to ensure that your cover is right for your particular business, contact us. You can reach us on 0161 533 0411 or Alternatively, fill in our online contact form and we’ll get back to you.

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