Man who accidentally set his house on fire by cooking steak in toaster unsatisfied with insurance payout

The man wasn't happy with the payout of more than $400,000.
The man wasn't happy with the payout of more than $400,000. Photo credit: Supplied

A man who burnt down his house by attempting to cook a steak in a toaster is unsatisfied with the insurance payout he received - and is also upset the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) didn't uphold his complaint. 

The man decided he wanted steak and chips for dinner and made the unusual decision to put his steak in the toaster. He left it to cook while he went down the road to buy some chips from the local fish-and-chip shop. 

A fire broke out, causing significant damage to the home he and his partner shared. 

The IFSO said it was lucky they were able to claim house insurance. Newshub obtained a document containing the IFSO's response to the man's complaint.

Despite their insurer accepting their claim and offering $418,000 - the maximum amount that could be paid under the couple's policy - the couple felt the sum was not not sufficient and would not be enough to replace their home.

The couple complained to the IFSO and argued the insurer should pay them an extra $200,000, saying they were not aware that their policy had changed from replacement cover to total sum insured.

But the IFSO did not uphold their complaint, saying the insurer had paid the policy's maximum entitlement. The complaints scheme also found the pair had been adequately informed of the change to their policy.

Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens said not understanding the annual insurance renewal process, or the cost to rebuild their home, "added further avoidable suffering to the stress of the fire".

“I can't stress highly enough the need to read each renewal letter carefully. Most insurers now offer total sum insurance, meaning your house is insured for a set price. If you don’t do your homework and insure your house for too low a sum insured, you could find yourself unable to rebuild your home. The sum insured should be what it would cost to rebuild, not what it’s worth on the market,” she said.

Stevens believes that, in this case, the fire had been preventable.

“Cooking steak in a toaster is literally a recipe for disaster. To have then left the house and toaster unattended for the sake of hot chips must be a constant source of regret. Never, never leave cooking unattended, even if you think you’ll just be a minute – and please, use your appliances for the purpose for which they were designed. Toasters are for toast.”