There are certain unique considerations when handling a theft and/or vandalism claim. Did a theft/vandalism actually occur? Was the property and/or items claimed owned by the insured, and if so, is proof available? What is the dollar amount of the loss and was there any damage related to the vandalism, such as broken doors or windows? Insurance companies rely heavily on police reports when investigating theft/vandalism claims, and therefore it is imperative to file an accurate police report describing the list of items stolen and their respective values. Insurers also rely on police reports to verify an incident actually occurred and to assist them in future subrogation efforts. If additional items are discovered missing afterwards, it is necessary to update the police report and notify your insurance company that you have filed a supplemental report.
Insurance companies frequently require documentation that verifies proof of ownership by the insured. Providing evidence such as pictures, receipts, and credit card statements will help substantiate your claim. If an insured cannot provide adequate documentation showing proof of ownership and the dollar value of the loss claimed is extremely high, the insurance company may perform an examination of the insured under oath, also known as EUO. The company may also request other financial documentation, such as tax returns, in order to establish a basis of ownership and to provide evidence that the insured had sufficient income to own the items.
Standard insurance policies also have various limitations and exclusions, which is why some policyholders need an inland marine insurance policy to cover certain items which may be excluded under a standard policy. These items need to be “scheduled,” requiring third party appraisals, and a limit will be set on the maximum amount paid in the event of a theft. Since the coverage limit is based on appraisal, policyholders typically assume they will be paid the dollar limit in the event of a loss. But insurance companies often seek prices in the market from companies that have buying power to reduce the estimated replacement price, especially on jewelry. They can then offer to pay the lower price or buy it for you. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to request the name of the company your insurer uses, go there and have it appraised.
Although theft/vandalism claims are common, they can be extremely complicated and time consuming. Let our public adjusters guide you through the process.