Last month, United policyholders were kind enough to invite me to attend one of the many webinars / seminars / workshops it hosts, one of the many free resources it offers to policyholders. The main topic of the presentation was homeowners' demands for personal property. This topic has a special place in my heart since my first exposure to the insurance industry made inventory inventories with my dad who grew up. The webinar was an excellent opportunity to hear ongoing questions from policyholders affected by forest fires in California in previous years.
As a homeowner, recovery under the cover of your personal property can be one of the most tedious and time consuming aspects of your claim. Consequently, the risk of leaving insurance income that is otherwise due, but irrevocable, is high due to fatigue and unfamiliarity with the process. Here are some tips to maximize your claim and collect what you owe:
Request a full copy of your insurance and know your limits
One of the first things you should do after a loss, after you put your insurer on notice and find appropriate protection, request a full copy of your current policy. 1
Use all available resources to compile a personal real estate inventory
For many losses, personal property can be lost, burned or damaged without recognition. This may require an inventory to be compiled largely from memory. Unfortunately, our memories are often not as reliable as we might think, and that means leaving dollars on the table. Compiling an inventory list should be an ongoing process. Consider using the following techniques to refresh your memory of things you had at home: ask friends and family for any photos they may have taken inside the home; go to a store you frequent (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.) and walk down the aisles; look at a wedding gift register; request old bank records; ask if a store you are a member of retains a shopping history; use predefined inventory lists as a guide; 3 and keep a notebook in your pocket, or open a note on your phone so you can constantly add items you had when you remember them. Finally, remember that even the smaller items in the dollar value add up. Don't forget to include items that are hidden or stored in a "trash can", otherwise you could lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
When allocating replacement cost, use appropriate pricing methods
When valuing the replacement cost of damaged or lost property, avoid using a source where prices vary. For example, it is usually not recommended to use eBay prices, unless you are trying to replace a unique item that cannot be found elsewhere. In addition, you avoid using sales prices in stores. When you receive your insurance income, the sale may be over and you may no longer have the funds required to replace the item at full price. on a replacement cost basis, or the cost of replacing the item new. Provisions on loss settlement often dictate that only the actual cash value is due until an item is replaced. Actual cash value = replacement cost – depreciation. Depreciation is the depreciation of an item usually due to wear and tear. As a policyholder, it is important to understand that depreciation is negotiable . In California, for example, an insurer must consider both age and condition for the property when determining the depreciation. 4 The policyholder, with superior information on age and condition of the objects, has the ability to push back against the unreasonable application depreciation. Depreciation guides can be used as a basic assessment of the reasonableness of the depreciation applied – United policyholders offer examples for easy reference on the Depreciation Basis page. 5 Finally, certain items should not be depreciated. For example, antiques, jewelry or other items that are generally known to hold their value or appreciation should not be depreciated by an insurer.
Get up early to recover the written-off amounts
As mentioned above, in order to collect the written-off amount (sometimes called delay or withheld money), you often have to replace the item and show the purchase ( t. ex. with receipt). In my experience, recovery is one of the most common places where policyholders leave money on the table throughout the insurance process. To make yourself successful from the start and to easily track purchases and transactions, consider doing the following:
- Use a folder or envelope to store all receipts on personal property purchases after the loss (and scan them, if possible) .
- Open a separate bank account with the personal real estate funds from your insurer – only use this account to buy replacement goods.
- Keep a diary for calls and emails with your adjuster regarding this aspect of your requirement.
- When buying replacement personal property, take with you the agreed estimate of personal property and compare items and price to maximize recovery.
Know Your Time Limit For Recovery
Be aware of any time limits for how long you will need to recover. How this time limit is applied varies from state to state. This time frame can be specified in your policy, but state law can adjust that time frame. For example, after a loss due to a California state of emergency, a period of less than 36 months may not be required to withdraw the amount from the date the first actual cash payment is made. 6 It is good practice to notify your insurer that you intend to collect the withholding amounts and to disclose your efforts to do so.
While the above are just a handful of tips to remember immediately after a loss of personal property, taking just a few steps to prepare for a potential loss can go a long way in avoiding a challenging damage process. Check out this blog for more tips on what you can do to prepare to address a personal property claim.
1 In California, an insurer shall provide the insured with a complete, up-to-date copy of his or her insurance free of charge within 30 calendar days upon receipt of a request from the insured. Cal. Ins. Code § 2071.
2 These can, for example, be listed under "Special Liability Limits" and include a limit of $ 250 for banknotes and coins for money, or $ 1000 for comic books and trading cards.
3 https://uphelp.org/claim-guidance-publications/household-inventory-sample-spreadsheet/4 10 cal. Code Regs. § 2695.9 (f)
5 https://uphelp.org/claim-guidance-publications/depreciation-basics/6 Kal. Ins. Code § 2051.5 (B)