Does a employer have the right to take employees tools after a fire since the employer carried the insurance policy?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Does a employer have the right to take employees tools after a fire since the employer carried the insurance policy?

We had a fire at the shop I work at and the employer carried a insurance policy for replacement of the employees tools.

I had purchased all my tools and did not owe anything on them. The insurance company does not want the tools back

but the employer says the tools belong to them since they carried the insurance policy. However, I the employee purchased the tools originally shouldn’t the tools be mine? Do they have any right to take the tools?

Asked on February 8, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Who was paid on the insurance policy: you or the employer? If the employer was paid for the claim but the tools belong to you, then the employer committed insurance fraud and if you go along with it, you may be committing it, too: you cannot insure for your benefit or be paid on another person's property.
Furthermore, your question makes it appear that the tools were not destroyed, since if they were, it would not matter to you or the employer gets them. If a claim was put in for tools as if they were destroyed but they were not, that is again insurance fraud, and if you go along with it, you may be participating in the fraud.
To get back to your original question: if you paid for them and did not give them to the employer, the employer may not have them: they are simply not its property. If you were paid by the insurer (e.g. you were the insured, even if your insurer footed the bill for you), they would belong to the insurer (for having paid the claim) unless, as in this case, the insurer gives up its right to them; providing the funds for another's insurance policy does not give you a right to the insured property by itself, unless there was some agreement that for doing so, the tools became the property of the one paying for the insurance. If the insurer paid you but does not want the tools, then they remain yours.
However, as stated, if these were your tools but the employer put in a claim for them, or a claim was put in as if they were destroyed when they were not, there may be insurance fraud.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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