How a public adjuster gets you a better claim for the contents of your property
They say it’s the little things that make a house a home—but do you know how many little things you have in every room of your house? Even commercial property owners who keep regular inventory can lose track of supplies, decor, and furnishings that have been around for years.
Recouping the loss of the contents of your property is a substantial part of your insurance claim. Even more than the design and materials of the structure, property contents vary widely, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Thorough, accurate documentation is the only way to get the reimbursement necessary to get back what you’ve lost.
Inventory is hard work
There’s no way around it: doing a careful inventory takes time and effort. Making a list of everything on your property goes from the big items like sofas and appliances to the things we all take for granted, like pencils and pens, silverware, or socks. Add to that items such as board games or video games, music collections, art supplies, tools, sports equipment, and the task gets very overwhelming. Since most property owners are already reeling from a stressful or even tragic event, even important things can easily be forgotten.
One of the many tasks a public adjuster (PA) manages for a client is creating a documented inventory. Grenier Public Adjusters sends a team to go room by room, drawer by drawer, to record the type and quantity of everything that needs to be replaced. That adds up to a lot: this example inventory from a real claim is more than 100 pages long.
Recording each item is just the beginning. Some items will need to be replaced, others repaired. There’s also actual cost, replacement cost value (RCV), sales tax, potential depreciation–or appreciation—due to age. Because content appraisal is our business, we can calculate this information quickly, and use multiple sources to substantiate our numbers in a way that insurers understand and accept.
How do you handle special situations?
While every claim situation is unique, some are more complex than others. A PA can make sure these items aren’t missed.
There are many reasons an item cannot be replaced: it is no longer made, it’s one of a kind, its value is mainly sentimental, or its value comes from being part of a collection. While nothing can get back precious old photos, a PA can help determine a reasonable value for items comparable to your heirlooms, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. While you can’t be reimbursed for the emotional loss, the monetary value of those items should be included in your settlement. Also, if you have items in your home you consider irreplaceable or unusually high value, you may want to consult with your insurance agent to be sure you have adequate coverage.
Say a homeowner has a basement fire. Fire damage may be limited to the contents of the basement, but smoke can travel anywhere. An experienced PA can track the smoke through wall cavities and pipes to the furniture, clothing, and other items that may need restoration or replacement.
Burnt out of sight (BOS)
This awful situation is exactly what it sounds like: a property has burnt to the ground and the contents are completely gone. Policyholders who have lost everything still need to substantiate the value of their property and its contents. If all or part of your property is burnt out of sight, we will sit with you to help recreate your memories and go through photos to be sure we get the details right.
What you can do
First, call a PA right away. We can be on site documenting both structural and content losses before any clean up begins. For some clients, the difference between their insurer’s assessment of contents and the settlement we help them achieve can be tens of thousands of dollars.
On that note: don’t clean up too soon! Every single item matters, from food in the cupboards and plastic straws to bath salts and flip flops. If the insurer challenges our inventory, we want to be able to back up our valuation. The more evidence we have to support your claim, the more accurate it will be.
Finally, take some time now to document the contents of your home. Digital videos and photos are an easy way to capture a room’s contents, including closets and drawers. Snap pictures of brand names and models of appliances and electronic equipment. It’s so much easier to compile this information when the need isn’t pressing.
Negotiating with the insurance company about the value of your possessions is the last thing you want to think about during a loss. When you hire a public adjuster you know you have someone representing only your best interests.