How to claim your contents (personal property) damage in an insurance claim

After a hurricane damages your house, the first thing you think about is getting a roof tarp, and protecting you family and belongings. Once you have completed temporary repairs, called in your insurance claim, it is time to look at your personal property and figure out what has been damaged.

Make a list, take photos of the damage to each item, but don’t throw away your stuff. If it’s wet or there is some reason that it cannot be held on to, you would want to review this with your insurance adjuster before throwing it away. It is best to keep everything, even if it is just in the garage, so that the adjuster and review the claimed property during the insurance inspection.

The list will need to have a description of the item, where you purchased it or where you could repurchase the item today, the age, and the cost to buy the item today. 

For example

Item                          Place of purchase       Age              Cost to replace

King Mattress            Mattress Barn            4 yr old            $ 700.00

King Box spring         Mattress Barn            4  yr old           $ 300.00

The item may cost less to repurchase it today than it did when you bought it. This is common with electronics. The 32G computer you purchased 2 yrs. ago for $1000 that was the top of the line, is now the bottom of the line technology that may cost $500. The insurance contract pays to replace the items with kind like and quality.  To find the pricing of the items today it is best to research online.  In the computer example, you could go to a website like Find a closest computer on the market in regard to brand, memory, accessories. Use this price, but be sure to print out the webpage so you have the documentation of where you got this price for your insurance adjuster. They will review it and as long as it is reasonable, most likely make a claim settlement off this pricing. 

You know your items better than your adjuster. The adjuster is busy handling hundreds of claims after a hurricane or tornado. The more information you provide to them, the more you will be pleased with the settlement.  The adjuster may pay you less not because they were trying to short you, but maybe they did not know your computer had a DVD player in it.  This is why it is important to list and price every item, and provide print outs of where you got the pricing on the larger ticket items.  Things like a garden hose from Home Depot for 39.99 would not need a print out as it is very reasonable and a common item. Specialty items, high priced items and electronics should have documentation on how you came to that replacement pricing.

The place of purchase.  This is so the adjuster can research the cost of the item if necessary. So if you got something as a gift, you would write down where you could buy the item now. If you purchased something from a store that went out of business, write down a similar type store. 

Wind damaged Personal Property

Wind damaged Personal Property

The age of the item. This information is used to determine your actual cash value for the initial settlement.  Some policies have replacement cost benefits, which means the insurance company will pay the full cost to replace the item, however, the full payment typically comes when the item is actually replaced.  The initial insurance payment is for the depreciated value of the item.  Once you go and repurchase it, typically within the next year or two, and provide the insurance company with a receipt, they will reimburse you the depreciation.

In the example above of our mattress and box spring, the items were 4 years old. Mattress’ have about a 10 year life. Therefore, 40% of the life of the mattress has been used. The 60% of the life you missed out on using the item is the initial payment.

For example

Item                          Place of purchase       Age              Cost to replace    Depreciation      Initial Payment

King Mattress            Mattress Barn            4 yr old            $ 700.00               $280.00            $420.00

King Box spring        Mattress Barn             4  yr old           $300.00              $120.00             $180.00

The insurance adjuster will fill in those last 2 columns of information for you.  You will just need to determine what is damaged, the cost to replace or repair and the age.   Make sure you keep the items, take photos of the damage in case something were to happen to the items before the adjuster got there, and print our internet research on how you came up with the pricing.

If you have all this done when the adjuster arrives it will make the meeting more productive and speed along your insurance claim check.