Insurance claims adjusters are often seen as the bad guys of the industry. They aren’t. In fact, they’re the good guys that keep insurance rates down for all of the honest folks that take out insurance on their property. Claims adjusters are tasked with determining if a fraudulent claim is being made. They do this by checking actual damages against the insured property. So, properly declaring all of your property is the only way to make sure that the adjuster can do his job right.
The number one reason that insurance claim payouts are lower than the policy holder expects is the inability to prove ownership and replacement cost of insured items. Properly documenting your insured items is a must. The best way to do this is by making a video recording of your valuables and keeping it in an off-site area like a safety deposit box. It is also a good idea to keep the receipt or appraisal documentation with the video record. This way, you will have a visual record of your items that the appraiser can refer to when making his report.
The other major reason that claims come in low is that the policy owner assumes something is covered that isn’t. Specialty items like high-end cameras, home computers, card and stamp collections, heirlooms and antiques need to be properly appraised or independently valued before they can be insured. These items often require a rider or additional policy to be drafted because they don’t fall within the parameters of the parent policy. Not declaring these items correctly can result in them not being covered by a conventional homeowners or renters policy and the insured being left empty handed.
The number one thing to do to make sure that you are covered is to talk to your insurance agent. In this case, the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked. Even if you think you have everything in order, ask the agent anyway. There may be special clauses in your policy, or you may need to have additional information about certain items in your home or on your vehicle that must be documented. The most common oversight is getting serial numbers off from electronics like televisions, home and car stereos, computers and handheld electronics. These are usually necessary when filing a claim for theft.
You can never have too much documentation. Sure, your agent may not like having a five-inch file to work through, but it’s far better than having your claim denied because you couldn’t provide proof of ownership. Make sure you have things in order should you ever have to file a Houston Home Insurance claim.