Some insurers will cover bicycle theft if it was stolen despite your securing it with a method that fulfills their policy requirements. But how might they typically prove whether you secured it in accordance with the policy or not?
Whether a thing was locked is often a material issue in a case. It can be relevant for non-bike thefts and is often relevant for reasons other than insurance. The judge will often just have to assess the credibility of the person who asserts that they locked the item based on their testimony alone, but sometimes there is other evidence that can assist (like physical evidence of damage to the lock or the item).
A few examples:
- Tarpon Energy Services Ltd v Lal, 2020 ABQB 317. An auto repair person had bailment of a vehicle. That vehicle was taken and involved in a collision. The question was whether the repair person had taken reasonable care of the vehicle, including locking it. Based on testimony, credibility assessments, and the kind of damage (or lack thereof) done to the vehicle, the Court was "not satisfied, on a balance or probabilities, that the GMC was locked."
- Macdonald Realty C/o BBS Property Mgmt v Harrison, 2021 CanLII 82826 (Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board). A bicycle was stolen. The person testified that they did not lock their bicycle. He also testified that "the Landlord’s employees told him not to lock his bicycle", attempting to pin the fault for the theft on the landlord. This was not successful.
- Chang v. Park Royal Shopping Centre Holdings Ltd., 2019 BCCRT 1219. In this case, there was evidence that the bike lock was cut.
- Mallet v. Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, 2002 ABCA 297. "There was nothing in Ivan Mallet's contacts with the police officers, Stillinger and Saunders, which was inconsistent with the truck having been stolen. Ivan Mallet told Stillinger the vehicle was left unlocked. Twenty months later he told his insurance company it was locked. Susan Mallet testified it was locked. There were no signs of forced entry, however the evidence indicated that was not conclusive on whether the truck had been locked when it was taken. None of this evidence has any value on the issue of whether the vehicle was stolen or loaned to Johnson." While this example doesn't get to an ultimate conclusion, it reveals more of the kinds of evidence that can be of assistance in determining whether an item was locked.