Are you prepared for your claim?

Homeowners – Prepare for the unexpected claim

It is the 1st of June, 2010 and The Walch Group thought it would be timely to encourage everyone to begin or update those lists for the claim we hope never happens. 

If a catastrophe of any type, Hurricane, Fire, Flood, Tornado, Windstorm, even a burglary, were to strike, are you ready to prove your claim to the insurance company?  Statistically, most of us are not.  Having been in the insurance field over twenty-four years, I can attest to the toll it takes on a family having suffered a property loss.  The difficulty of a financial loss combined with the emotional loss is very stressful on a family.  While we may not be able to prepare emotionally for a loss, we can prepare for the financial loss. 

At The Walch Group, we recommend you complete or start the list of personal property (a.k.a. contents – if you were to turn your home upside down, whatever falls out is your personal property) we have been putting off.  It is up to us as policyholders to help our adjuster prove our loss to the insurance company.  The easier we make it for the adjuster, the quicker and more complete our claim will be processed.  Of course our personal property list is our first step.  Please do not forget the home itself, storage units, rental properties, and dorm rooms.  Check back here next month for additional helpful hints.

TWG recommends you start with at least two pictures of each room from opposing angles and all sides of the exterior of the home including the roof.  While in each room, open the drawers, closets, cabinets and take photos of each.  Take separate pictures of expensive items; jewelry, flat screens, silver, crystal, china, silverware, computers, furniture, antiques, electronics, etc.   

To support your pictures, a personal property list should include the item, room, make/model, serial/i.d. number, date purchased, where purchased, purchase price, estimated current value, photo number.  Why you ask, that we would need all this information?  Our insurance adjuster is going to ask us for all of this information at the time we make a claim.  Why do we need to include the purchase price and the current value?  Depending on the item, the purchase price may be greater today than it was when you originally purchased the item such as a leather couch.  And if we have the Replacement Cost Provision (R/C) in our policy (not all policies do, check with your agent) we are entitled to the higher amount based on the provisions of your policy.  Conversely, some items cost less today (flat screen t.v.’s) than they did two or more years ago and we would be paid less based on the replacement cost.  The adjuster will apply the proper depreciation for each item.  Check back next month and we will include an MS Excel spreadsheet to download in order to help you with your list. 

Now that we have taken the pictures and created our personal property list, keep a copy in a safe place such as a safety deposit box or on a secure remote server such as Carbonite.Com or with a trusted friend or relative who lives out of state and offer to do the same for them.

Be sure to update our list with any major purchases or gifts received and after the holidays.  It is the last thing we want to do next to mowing the yard, but we should update the list at least every two years.

And next to painting the house, go visit your insurance agent for a home insurance check-up.  Share with your agent the personal property list.  Do we carry enough insurance?  Should our silver, jewelry, artwork, weapons, furs, collectibles, etc. be listed as a rider (inland marine policy) because of the limits of the homeowner’s policy?  Do you have the Replacement Cost Provision on your contents policy?  And if not, can you afford to suffer the depreciation that will be applied to your claim?  Remember, many of us are already going to suffer a much higher deductible during a hurricane loss.  Do you have the Replacement Cost Provision (dwelling) for your home/condo/vacation home?  Do you need a flood policy?  Flood property and contents policies are sold separately and have separate deductibles.  Flood policies also have low limits for silver, jewelry, artwork, weapons, furs and more that are not available to purchase as rider on the flood policy.  Check with your agent about acquiring a policy that will cover these items in case of a flood. 

Check out our Industry Links Tab for ideas on how to prepare for Hurricane Season.
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