You enter your house and discover you have been burglarized. Someone has invaded your home and taken your personal belongings, perhaps even valuables and irreplaceable sentimental objects. The feeling is overwhelming, traumatizing, and makes you feel highly vulnerable. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there are more than one million burglaries in the United States each year. Read on to learn more about what you should expect when filing a theft claim in the wake of a theft.
What You Should Know About Theft Claims?
Homeowners’ insurance typically includes coverage for theft and damage to your home when a burglary occurs. It is important to note that although you have insurance coverage, it may not mean you will be compensated fully for all stolen items.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
Your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover you for either replacement cost or actual cash value.
- Replacement Cost – You will be reimbursed for the replacement cost of an item based on how much it currently is worth.
- For example, if you bought an item five years ago for $75, but it currently costs $200, you will be reimbursed $200.
- Actual Cash Value – You will be paid based on how much your item would sell for today, rather than the cost of a new one.
- Using our above example, if you bought an item three years ago for $80, but it’s only worth $50 today, you will be paid $50.
Note: If your deductible is $500, submitting an insurance claim for either of the above examples is usually not successful.
Limits to Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
Many standard homeowner’s insurance policies will provide coverage for your possessions at about 50 percent to 70 percent of the insurance amount on your home.
Everyday items, such as televisions, furniture, and appliances common in most homes, should be covered in full in the event of a burglary.
What are the Exceptions?
The reimbursement of rare or high-value items, such as jewelry, collectible coins, art, and cash, is usually relatively low. For example, money is often covered at around $200 and jewelry at $2,000. If your $10,000 ring is stolen with $1,000 in cash, you may only be reimbursed $2,000 and $200, respectively.
A great strategy is to add a scheduled personal property coverage or a personal floater to your insurance policy to increase your coverage limits on high-value items.
Homeowner’s insurance does not cover motor vehicle theft. An auto insurance policy covers auto theft.
Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim for Theft
Here are some action items to take if you have experienced a theft or break-in at your house.
- Contact the police and file a police report: If you have a theft or break-in at your home, you should contact the police as soon as possible. You will need to get a copy of the police report or case number for the insurance company so they start processing your claim.
- Do emergency repairs: When a burglary involves forcible entry, you need to safeguard your property and protect your family from other intrusions. You will likely need emergency repairs, such as replacing windows or damaged doors during the break-in.
- Save your sales receipts: Keep copies of your receipts so you can get fully reimbursed by your insurance company.
- Organize your information: Prepare a list of stolen items and organize your receipts. Take quality photographs or videos of damage caused to your property and where things were stolen.
- Your list should include information such as:
- The brand, model, and serial number of the stolen item.
- Where and when it was purchased and the cost.
- The estimated replacement cost or cash value of the item.
- Your list should include information such as:
Please do not wait until it is too late! It is always a good idea to have a personal property inventory to simplify the claim process if you have a theft at your home. Take good quality photos of the items and store receipts in a safe place.
Your checklist should document all items under your Coverage C insurance, such as:
- Jewelry, art, collectibles, and other high-priced valuables
- Tablets, laptops, computers, televisions, gaming systems, and other electronics
- Guns, knives, and weapons
- Oven, range, gas logs, and other appliances
- Stuff like holiday decor, seasonal sporting equipment, and tools
Data and Storage
Some methods for the electronic storage of data files are using external hard drive or a cloud-based system. External hard drives with certain capacities are available as a second or third backup. As with boxes, you can protect external drives by keeping them off the ground and in a secure place. Another good option for storing files electronically is through a cloud-based system. Saving files online allows you to access files remotely, at any time.
Investigation and Inspection
Insurance companies do not always investigate theft claims or send someone to inspect your home. However, they may decide to investigate your claim, especially if it lacks ample supporting documentation or if something looks suspicious.
For example, to verify the ownership and value of your stolen items, you might be asked to submit bank statements, credit card statements, or additional information.
Your adjuster should contact you within 24 hours after you’ve filed your claim. To speed up the claims process, have a copy of your insurance policy with you when you talk to your adjuster.
Follow Up with The Insurance Company
Follow up with the insurance company a few weeks after you submit your claim form to determine its status. You should note the date and time you call and the name of the person you speak to in case you have to contact them again.
When your claim is settled, you will be paid for your lost or damaged property covered by your policy, less your deductible and applicable depreciation. Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket. Your insurance company will provide documentation noting the outcome of your claim. Always keep a copy of this documentation for your records.
The Plainfield Insurance Lawyers at Herold Law, P.A. Assist Clients Before Filing an Insurance Claim After Thefts
If you seek insurance claims after a theft, our Plainfield insurance lawyers at Herold Law, P.A., are available to represent you. We will help you after the robbery and pursue the most value from your coverage. Call us at 908-647-1022 or complete 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.