If you are reading this, you are probably looking for answers about how to get the insurance company to pay your Hurricaine Ida claim. We all know that major hurricanes can cause people to lose a significant amount of personal property A major loss often makes a realize how much stuff we have in our homes. It can amount to thousands of items. These items can range from valuable pieces of furniture or electronics to items of personal significance, such as decades-old family photographs.
Following an event like Hurricane Ida, we learn that some of our property is totally lost. Other property may be damaged by water, mold, mildew, or wind. Your insurance policy contains coverage for your damaged or lost personal property. Many people will refer to this as contents claim or contents coverage.
The most important thing for you to realize is that the insurance company will not make your contents claim for you. It is up to you to present the best claim possible and recover what is owed to you under your policy. When people think about it, they are often surprised by the amount of
Insurance companies treat contents claims differently. Following a major loss, insurance companies will inspect and estimate the cost of repair of your dwelling. While many dwelling claims are not paid correctly, insurance companies often issue dwelling payments following a loss. It is rare for an insurance company to pay anything remotely reasonable for your lost contents without you presenting substantial evidence of what is owed.
Many of our clients have been able to recover tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid contents following fire, flood, or hurricane losses. We hope you are able to use this information to maximize your contents claim.
What Type of Insurance Will Cover Contents?
Hurricane Ida caused significant water damage to homes and businesses throughout South Louisiana. For some policyholders, your flood insurer may be primarily responsible for paying your contents claim. If your property was not impacted by flooding, your homeowners or commercial policy should provide the coverage you need.
Understanding Key Terms
Depreciation: Most insurance policies allow the insurer to reduce money owed to you for depreciation. Depreciation accounts for a property’s decrease in value over time from age, wear, and tear. The depreciation taken out by an insurance company is often negotiable and may under certain policies be recovered once you have replaced your damaged property.
Replacement Cost Value: Most policies are replacement cost policies. This means you can potentially recover the cost to replace you’re damaged or lost contents. Odds are your policy permits the insurance company to depreciate the amount paid to you. Once you actually replace or repair the lost items, you can recover the depreciation that was withheld. It will be up to you to present evidence of the repairs and replacements that were made to recover the depreciation.
Actual Cash Value: An ACV policy does not pay you the cost to replace your property. Instead, it will only pay the depreciated value of your claim. ACV policies are not as common these days. However, if you have in ACV policy, you should negotiate the amount of depreciation withheld by the insurer. Insurance adjusters tend to have a hard time explaining how they computed depreciation. Simply pressing the issue tends to lead to a better payment.
Presenting Your Contents Claim to Your Insurance Company – Five Helpful Tips
As mentioned before, it is up to you to make your contents claim. This requires you to present a contents claim. There are a few important documents that you will need to present to the insurance company to support your claim. These documents include: (1) Contents List; (2) Photographs; (3) Receipts or Invoices; (4) Videos of Damage; and (5) Sworn Statement in Proof of Loss.
There are several key steps in compiling the evidence needed to present a strong contents claim. Below is a list of tips to put everything together. Again, if you have questions, reach out to us anytime.
Tip 1: Take Pictures or Videos of Everything
Having your lost or damaged personal property photographed or videoed is incredibly helpful in presenting the best contents claim. This demonstrates to the insurance company several important things including that you owned the property as well as its condition. Many adjusters will reject items claimed that have not been photographed or substantiated through an outside source. This is especially the case when the lost or damaged item was thrown away before the insurance company had the opportunity to inspect the property.
When photographing your lost or damaged items be as thorough as possible. Following major disasters, the contents in your home maybe lumped into a pile or strewn around the home. Take the time to pull each item you intend to claim aside to photograph on its own. For items such as electronics, take photographs of serial numbers or model numbers.
Sometimes you will have a multitude of small items that are similar. For example, you may have a pile of 22 t-shirts in your closet or 36 types of spices in your pantry. In these situations, try to take as many individual photographs as you can. If it is too time consuming, at a minimum, take multiple photographs of the items in bulk.
Tip 2: Addressing Lost Items
Following major disasters, many damaged items may have been simply thrown away. People are often in a hurry to clean up their properties following an event. Sometimes a remediation company is hired to mitigate damages and certain items beyond repair may be discarded.
There is nothing in your policy that says you have to present physical evidence or even pictures of damaged items. Of course, having solid proof of your damage is always easier.
In many cases, we have assisted homeowners with putting together a contents list after items have been discarded. We work with the homeowner to learn what was lost. In some cases, the client may have digital receipts, invoices, pre-loss photos, or other proof of ownership.
Tip 3: Presenting Proof of Loss
Like your dwelling claim, we recommend presenting proof of loss for your contents claim. We normally create a contents package to present to the insurance company that is comprised of a contents list, cross-referenced photographs, receipts, and other information needed to substantiate your claim. We also include a sworn statement in proof of loss for the replacement cost of your contents. A sworn statement in proof of loss helps you lock the insurance company into deadlines to pay your claim. Assuming your contents package is thorough,
Your contents list needs to include a description of each item, the replacement cost, and the date it was purchased, if known.
Tip 4: Deciding If an Item Is Damaged
It is not always easy determining if an item is damaged. In the case fire or water damage, many items will not be capable of being sufficiently cleaned to their pre-loss form. Smoke and soot from a fire can cause an item to lose its integrity. Likewise, exposure to water and mold can leave many items hazardous to human health. The purpose of insurance is to help you replace the items that were damaged, not leave you with property that is no longer usable or even worse, dangerous to your health.
You should be as thorough as possible. If there is an item that was damaged in any way, it is fair to seek replacement.
Some insurance companies send cleaning and remediation companies to a property soon after a loss. These companies may tell you that your items can be cleaned. Often, these companies will be sent to your property to find a way to limit your ultimate recovery following a significant loss. If you need a remediation company to assist with home or contents restoration, do not hire the vendor referred by your insurance company.
Tip 5: Negotiating A Contents Settlement
Insurance adjusters often do not enjoy adjusting contents claims, especially when the contents list is fairly extensive. If you have presented a thorough contents claim with proof of loss, be persistent. Keep a record of all communications. If the insurance company provides you a list of items it is willing to cover, ask questions about items omitted or denied. Again, keep a record of these communications. Pointing out oversights by the insurance company can sometimes lead to favorable outcomes.
Also, your insurance company will likely withhold depreciation from that it pays to you. Remember, depreciation is always negotiable and can potentially be recovered once you replace your lost items. Ask questions about how the insurance company came to its depreciation amount. Often, insurance adjusters are willing to negotiate the amount of depreciation that is withheld.
When To Call An Attorney?
Maximizing your contents claim is a big step towards being able to rebuild right. Each dollar owed that you do not recover makes it that much harder to get back.
If your contents claim has been delayed, denied, or underpaid, you should contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights. The law works on your side. We have had tremendous success significantly increasing our client’s contents recovery.