In a 2019 report, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program described burglary as an “unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony theft.” Forcible entry, attempted forcible entry and unlawful entry with no force used all fall under this definition. In 2019 there were over 1 million burglaries, totaling over 3 billion in property losses. The average financial loss per burglary was $2,661.
Being robbed, having someone invade your space and take things without your consent, is an upsetting experience. On top of the emotional aftermath, there are practical matters to consider, such as trying to replace what is missing. Certain types of insurance can help reimburse the costs involved. An experienced insurance attorney will provide legal advice during the claims process and assist you with getting coverage.
What Forms of Insurance Cover Theft?
- Homeowners Insurance: There are several subsets of a homeowners’ policy which may provide payouts in case of burglary. Examples include dwelling coverage, personal property coverage and other structures coverage.
- Dwelling Coverage: Forcible entry and attempted forcible entry may result in broken windows, damaged locks and other structural issues. Dwelling coverage can help pay for repairs to your home. The payout amount will vary depending on your policy limits and your deductible.
- Personal Property Coverage: Replacing or repairing belongings damaged or stolen during a burglary falls under personal property coverage. Objects like furniture, electronics, clothing and appliances often fall under this policy. High value items such as jewelry may receive only a partial payout. The amount of coverage a policy provides can depend on whether the policy holder selected Actual Cash Value (ACV) or replacement cost.
- Other Structures Coverage: If a fence, garage or other detached structure on your property is damaged during a burglary, other structures coverage may help pay for repairs or replacement. The other structures coverage in your policy is a percentage of your dwelling coverage. As an example, a $100,000 dwelling coverage may allow for up to $10,000 for other structures.
For burglaries which occur outside of a personally owned home, other policies may apply, such as renters’ insurance and commercial property insurance.
- Renters Insurance: While homeowners insurance benefits the property owner, renters’ insurance protects the tenant. This form of insurance also has different subtypes, including personal property coverage and loss of use. Renters’ personal property coverage provides payouts to tenants to help replace their belongings. Personal property coverage may pay up to the limit agreed upon in the policy.
- Loss of Use: Burglary damage such as broken doors can make a dwelling unlivable for a tenant. Loss of use coverage helps to reimburse extra living expenses incurred. Temporary housing such as hotels, storage, parking and additional food expenses may fall under loss of use expenses.
- Commercial Property Insurance: Homeowners and renters insurance cover residential thefts. For business owners, commercial property insurance applies. This form of insurance covers computers, inventory, furniture, employee’s personal items and more. In addition to property loss, it helps reimburse repairs for building damage incurred during the theft.
What is Replacement Cost?
When insurance pays an amount equal to an object’s current market value, it is known as replacement cost. For example, if a television is stolen and it costs $500 to buy a new one, the insurance payout may be $500. If the original television has depreciated in value, the policy holder may still receive $500. Should the policy holder spend less money than the payout to replace the object, they pay the difference to the insurance company. If the replacement television cost $400, the policy holder needs to return the remaining $100.
There are limits to replacement cost. A high value item’s insurance coverage may be capped, resulting in a low reimbursement in relation to its worth. For objects like jewelry, antiques or silverware, scheduled personal property coverage can increase the payout.
What is Actual Cash Value?
ACV covers the current market value of the stolen item, even if it has depreciated over time. A camera worth $200 ten years ago may have much smaller ACV payout today. In both what the policy holder pays and what they receive, ACV is cheaper than replacement cost. Whether a person buys ACV or replacement cost depends on their tolerance for risk.
How Do I File a Claim?
Making preemptive preparations can make filing a claim easier. These include taking an inventory of your personal possessions, documenting purchases and saving receipts. Photographing or videotaping items is also recommended, as is storing inventory information in a secure location like fire proof lockbox.
After a theft, notify the police. Your insurance company may ask for the case number or copy of the police report before working on your claim. Where applicable, photograph any structural damage like broken doors before making emergency repairs. Save the repair receipts to file with the insurance company later.
Make a list of what is missing or damaged, both in writing and with photographs or videos. Include as much data as possible such as brand name, serial number and the location and date of purchase. Try to file a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible. Most companies allow for up to thirty days after a theft.
Hiring an insurance attorney before filing a claim can make the process less stressful. They will help you collect evidence to strengthen your claim. Other benefits include assistance navigating the complex legalese surrounding insurance coverage and communicating with the company and other parties on your behalf. An experienced lawyer will also do what they can to prevent the company from denying your claim and help you get the payout you are entitled to.
The Plainfield Insurance Lawyers at Herold Law, P.A. Help Clients Receive Insurance Coverage After Thefts
If you are seeking insurance claims after a theft, our Plainfield insurance lawyers at Herold Law, P.A., are available to represent you. We will help you in the wake of your loss and pursue the most value from your coverage. Call us today at 908-647-1022 or fill out our online form to schedule a confidential consultation. From our office in Warren, New Jersey, we proudly represent clients in Plainfield, Warren and throughout New Jersey.