A court in Ohio found that bitcoin is covered ‘property’ under a homeowner’s policy and not ‘money’ and therefore the claim for lost bitcoin was not limited by the money sublimit. The decision was based partly on a recent Internal Revenue Service document that categorised virtual currency such as bitcoin as property for federal tax purposes.

The ruling enabled the policyholder to claim $16 000 for stolen bitcoin rather than the money sublimit of $200.

A decision on this issue in South Africa will depend on how bitcoin is seen in relation to currency by the authorities. In the meantime, insurers should consider sub-limiting bitcoin claims in the same way they sub-limit money claims.

The case is Kimmelman v Wayne Insurance Group.