Jewelry theft, an extraordinary risk

The spectacular robbery of high-value jewelry in the "Extraordinary Diamonds" show-and-sell room, held in late July 2013 at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes (France) may cost insurers very dearly. Belonging to the famous jewelry house Leviev, the 72 pieces missing, 34 of which exceptional, represent a booty worth 136 million USD, the largest jewelry theft ever committed in France.
Photo credit: Jorfer (modified picture)

It was during the transfer of the jewels from the safe of the hotel to the exhibition hall which is located 50 meters away, that the hold-up took place. The thief broke into a hardly-open French window and fled less than a minute later the same way.

Although safety failures are common: unarmed guards, window open into the terrace of the hotel, non-resisted entrance of the thief, not reporting the importance of the exhibits to the local police, the guarantee cover underwritten by the jeweler with the Lloyd's, insurer of the stolen jewelry, would come into play. This case is one of an armed robbery carried out in the light of day.

According to experts, the amount of the insurance premium for such goods should be comprised between 2% and 3% of the jewelry value, that is, between 2.6 and 3.9 million USD. Moreover, Leviev jewelery had to pay an additional premium to cover the exposure of its unique pieces on the Croisette, a very luxurious place where crime is growing steadily.

Progress of the investigation

Compensation for the damage should take between two and four months. Payment periods depend on the progress of police investigation. To speed up the case, the Lloyd's offers, as it has already done in 2008 during the robbery of the Harry Winston jewelry, a 1.3 million USD reward to the person who will help find the loot.
At the end of the investigation, three alternatives are considered:

  1. The police believes that chances of recovering the jewels are slim. The insurer is required to pay the jeweler the full value of the loot, that is, 136 million USD.
  2. The jewels are found after payment of compensation. The insurance company becomes the owner of the loot. The jeweler, however, has priority to buy the parts recovered if the insurance company decides to put them on sale. The jeweler can, nonetheless, abstain from buying out the jewels and retain the compensation.
  3. The loot is found before compensation payment, in which case the insurance will pay nothing and the insured recovers its stolen commodity.

At end December 2017, that is four years after the Carlton Hotel Jewelry theft, The booty was never found.

Rising loss experience makes insurers reluctant

The HBJO activity (watches and clocks, jewelry, precious stones and gold) has in the past three years reported an increasing loss experience. According to broker Verspieren, nearly 600 cases of jewelry thefts were reported in France for just 2012. Due to rising crime, insurers are getting too reluctant to provide coverage for this type of activity. Only the London market of the Lloyd's along with some reinsurers such as Swiss Re, Hannover Re and Munich Re continue to cover the risks of luxury brands.

«Comprehensive-jeweler» guarantee

A basic insurance called «comprehensive-jeweler» is often underwritten by the HBJO (watches and clocks, jewelry, precious stones and gold) business to cover the risks of theft, loss or damage to the jewelry in jewelry’s locations and in reserves. Specific covers as well extended guarantees can be added. Additional premiums are normally paid in the event of transportation, shipping, exhibition outside the store or when jewelry is entrusted to an actress or a model. It is according to the value of jewelry and their location that the insurer determines the additional premium. He may also require more stringent safety conditions.

Main thefts during 1963-2013

in millions USD

DateLocationCircumstancesThe loot
8 August 1963
Glasgow-LondonAttack of the Glasgow-London
Royal Mail train
68Part of the loot
has not been found
18 July 1976
Nice (France)Robbery of the safes of
Société Générale bank
41Loot never found
3 July 1986
Saint-Nazaire(France)Hold up in Banque de France27Loot never found
25 March 1990
Geneva (Switzerland)Hold up in the Union
Bank of Switzerland
24Loot never found
16 December 1992
Toulon (France)Hold up in Banque de France291.8 million USD found
by the police
1 September 1997
Zurich (Switzerland)Attack of Fraumunster mail36Half of the loot found
15 February 2003
Anvers (Belgium)Robbery of 123 safes of
the World Diamond Centre
Between 125 and 502Loot never found
5 March 2004
Tokyo (Japan)Robbery of jewelery by
the pink panthers network
25 February 2005
Amsterdam (Netherlands)Robbery of diamond and jewelery at
the Amsterdam airport Schiphol
20 December 2005
Belfast (Northern Ireland)Robbery of Northern Bank45
22 February 2006
Tonbridge (United Kingdom)Hold up in Bank of England10416 million USD found
5 March 2007
Anvers (Belgium)Theft of diamonds from the
ABN AMRO bank’s safes
31 -
10 February 2008
Zurich (Switzerland)Theft of 4 paintings : Cézanne, Van Gogh, Degas and Monet from the Bührle museum (Zurich)162The 4 paintings were found,
the last of which in 2012
5 December 2008
Paris (France)Robbery of the Jeweler Harry Winston12080% of the jewelery were found six months later
13 July 2009
Cannes (France)Hold-up in a Cartier’s jewelery21-
6 August 2009
London (England)Theft of jewelery at Graff Diamonds6528.9
reimbursed by insurers
20 May 2010
Paris (France)Theft of 5 master paintings from the Musée of Art Moderne132Unfound paintings
18 February 2013
Brussels (Belgium)Theft of diamonds on the tarmac of the Brussels airport50Loss paid by the Lloyd’s
28 July 2013
Cannes (France)Theft of jewelery exposed at the hotel Carlton136
01 March 2016
Cannes (France)Robbery of the Jeweler Chopard place Vendôme18.5
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