Personal Property Losses in South Florida

Loss of Personal Property

One of the most tedious and potentially aggravating types of insurance losses a homeowner can face is a water, fire or theft loss in South Florida. One of the reasons these types of losses can be tedious and aggravating is because they often involve the loss of an extensive amount of personal property, such as clothing, housewares, family heirlooms and other personal effects. Another reason is due to the very nature of the fire or theft losses in South Florida: the personal property that is insured may no longer exist or exists in an unrecognizable condition. Thirdly, fire and water losses in South Florida can damage items such that it is impossible to prove their condition before the loss. Lastly, water, fire and theft losses can involve very large amounts of personal property being lost or damaged and each piece should be accounted for if insurance is to cover them.

Let’s say a homeowner suffers a covered fire loss which destroys the entire home and its contents. The homeowner must now prove everything that is lost. The home itself is relatively easy, but what about its contents? If a homeowner’s policy limits on the contents (personal property) of the home is $300,000.00, the insurance company is going to want more than just a signed Proof of Loss stating that $300,000.00 in personal property was destroyed. In fact, the insurance company is going to want a detailed inventory of every single piece of personal property lost in this  fire. But this is going to be an almost impossible task to do now that everything is gone. So what’s a homeowner to do? Inventory and document the personal property before any potential loss.

Documenting Personal Property 

For high value items, save all paperwork that would substantiate their value and existence. Receipts for jewelry, electronics, appliances, etc. are all great examples of personal property where having a receipt of purchase will make it  much easier to prove you owned it at the time of loss as well as its value at the time of purchase. Even if depreciation will be calculated out of your personal property insurance payment for contents, have the depreciation calculated  from the higher value (when the item was purchased) rather than the often lower current retail value. This is especially true with electronics.

Next, inventory your items of personal property. An easy way to do this is to walk around one’s home and take pictures or video of the contents. Pictures may be the quickest and easiest method. However, an advantage of video is that you can provide commentary as you film, providing background information. A homeowner’s assertion that a piece of personal property is worth a certain amount and is in a certain condition is much more credible when it’s made years before a given loss than right after the loss.

After the inventory and documents have been organized and created, keep them in a safe place. For example, e-mail the pictures or video file to yourself. In the event that the computer storing the pictures or video is lost, you can still access them from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

How Florida’s Best Public Adjusters Can Help

Even if you take the above steps, if a large insurance claim for personal property is made, it will still be a difficult and tedious process to obtain a full recovery. A qualified and experience public adjuster can deal directly with the insurance company and provide requested information and documents. The public adjuster can also help inventory the personal property that was lost or damaged. When an insurance company asks for what was lost, it will likely ask for a written inventory even if you provide a photo/video inventory. The public adjuster can take the photos or video and write out the inventory for you and submit it to the insurance company on your behalf. In fact, did you know that many insurance companies for large losses involving personal contents will hire an outside company to organize and document each piece of personal property that constitutes the insurance claim? The process is so tedious and time-consuming, even the insurance company retains an outside company to help. Why shouldn’t you do the same?

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