Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Insurer refuses pay out on lost 'gift of love'

Retiree is battling Vero over a claim to replace a $45,000 diamond.
Jung Nam Lee believes the $45,000 diamond dropped from his ring at a changing room. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Jung Nam Lee believes the $45,000 diamond dropped from his ring at a changing room. Photo / Jason Oxenham

An 81-year-old retired Korean military officer moved to New Zealand for a quiet life, but he is now embroiled in a new battle - to get an insurance payout for a $45,000 diamond that dropped from his ring.

Jung Nam Lee believed he lost the stone, described in a 2013 valuation as a 3.4-carat, brilliant-cut diamond, at a gymnasium changing room in Panmure in January.

Vero Insurance said Lee's claim was declined on the basis of general exclusion, because it felt Lee had not kept the ring in good repair.

Jewellery Valuers Company valued the diamond and 18-ct gold ring at $46,700. "Mr Lee advised us he had lost a diamond from his ring and then found it and fitted it back into the ring himself without professional assistance," a Vero spokesman said.

"His claim was declined on the basis of a general exclusion, typical in such policies, which requires policy holders to keep their property in good repair or prevent its loss or damage."

Lee, who is also the president of the New Zealand Taekwondo Federation, claimed he had the diamond professionally refitted in Seoul, Korea, after it first fell out from the college-style four-claw gold ring in 2014. The spokesman said the claim would be reassessed if Lee could provide a letter to back this.

Lee bought the diamond from an Auckland jeweller in 2010 for his wife as a "gift of love".

"She gave the diamond back to me two years later when I wanted to make a man ring for myself because she said she also loved me," he said.

"I feel very bad about losing the diamond. I hope to get the insurance money to buy a replacement so the ring can be complete again."

Lee noticed the diamond had fallen out when he changed out of his taekwondo uniform five months ago.

"I think the ring may have caught on my clothes and the diamond fell out," he said. "I looked everywhere, but I could not find it. I am heart broken."

This was the second time the diamond had gone missing. In 2014, it fell out while Lee was in Seoul.

His sister found the ring and Lee flew back in May last year to retrieve it. He claimed he had it refitted by a Korean company, Infurtech.

However, the date of the refit did not match the dates that Lee was in Korea.

In a letter to Lee, Vero claims there was no confirmation that the diamond recovered from Korea was the one that was previously lost.

"When the diamond was apparently recovered, you advise it was manually inserted back into the ring without professional assistance," Vero said. "We consider your failure to professionally repair the ring has resulted in the loss claimed for."

- Herald on Sunday

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