A convicted thief who hid his criminal record from a motor insurance company has had an €11,000 claim for compensation dismissed after a judge held he committed a “sin of omission”.
Julien Aurica, a Romanian national with an address at Hampton Street, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, sued Zurich Insurance after his BMW was gutted in an arson attack.
The as yet unsolved crime happened when his car was left parked at Ballintree Villas, Tyrelstown, Dublin 15 on July 26, 2017, three weeks after he filled out his proposal form with Zurich Insurance.
Judge Michael Coghlan heard at Dublin District Court that Aurica, a barber, had previously bought the BMW for €10,000 and carried out a further €2,500 worth of modifications.
In court, Aurica said his car had only 26,000 miles on the clock and he believed it was worth €17,000. He also owned an Audi worth €10,000 which he kept as a holiday car in Romania for when he goes back there on visits.
When he bought the BMW he got cover from Zurich Insurance but told the firm he had no convictions.
It was later destroyed after a window was broken in and a plastic bottle with an accelerant was put inside and set alight. An untraceable silver car had been seen pulling up beside Aurica’s BMW at the time of the incident.
His car had been targeted and no other vehicles in the area were damaged, the court was told.
Dismissing the claim, Judge Coghlan held it was clear that by leaving out the information Aurica made himself a hostage to fortune regarding the insurance company underwriting his car.
He said the plaintiff, who had been known to use two other names, had committed a sin of omission by not fully disclosing his convictions.
Insurance was governed by the fundamental principle of utmost good faith and a policy can be rendered void, he said.
He did not think the plaintiff had been full and frank and he added that during the hearing the court had to drag information out of him that he did not want to provide.
Garda Alan Reddy told the court the man had six prior criminal convictions. Four of them were traffic offences: having no motor insurance, failing to display a tax disc and using a vehicle without an NCT certificate for which he was fined €350 in 2013.
In May 2012 he had also been given 120 hours community service in lieu of a 60-day sentence for stealing sunglasses valued €153 from a shop in Kildare.
In April 2012 he was convicted of handling a woman’s stolen purse and was handed a two-month suspended sentence.
An underwriter with the insurance firm gave evidence to the court that Aurica would have been refused cover if he had disclosed the details of his past convictions.
Conor Kearney BL (instructed by solicitor Ciara Lehane) had argued the claim was not genuine. He said Aurica clearly misrepresented himself to the insurance firm which would not have underwritten the policy if it had known about his record.
The plaintiff had also claimed the man who had sold him the car was not otherwise known to him but Garda Reddy gave evidence that the pair had been spotted together in Ballymun in Dublin on another occasion, counsel said.
Aurica was also ordered to pay Zurich Insurance’s legal bill for defending the action.