Most standard home insurance policies will provide compensation for lost personal possessions as well as property damage that occur during a home burglary. However, all possessions are not covered for the full cost of their replacement.
In addition, there are usually limitations on specific types of possessions, and you may lose some value because of depreciation, or the loss of equity because of the age of an item. However, some depreciation losses may be returned to the homeowner under specific circumstances.
What information will you need when reporting a burglary to your insurance company?
You should first contact a local law enforcement agency, in most cases your local police department, to file a complaint and receive a complaint number. Your insurance company will want this number when you file your initial claim. Other information the insurance company will need include:
Specific information about stolen items
This includes the manufacturer and model of each item, along with the serial number if possible. They will also ask the approximate age of each item, in order to determine depreciation in value. It may be impossible to provide all of this information, but you should be prepared to offer as many details as possible.
Specifics about damage to the home
Pictures will definitely help in showing any physical damage to your home, as well as possible points of entry. However, pictures are not required if you can provide an accurate description of the damage, such as a broken window or door.
If your home remains vulnerable or dangerous because of a broken lock or shattered window, your insurance company will send a contractor to make emergency repairs until the rest of your claim can be processed.
Do you need proof that you actually owned the items that you are reporting to have been stolen in the burglary?
You are not usually required to provide proof of ownership on any claims, because there are penalties that include fines and/or jail time for insurance fraud. Knowingly filing false claims to receive compensation is illegal.
What types of items may be subject to limitations in compensation?
Jewelry is a popular target for burglars because of its resale value compared to its size and weight, so limitations are often severe. You are likely to be provided with a $1000 total limit on compensation for all of your jewelry's combined value.
Computers, phones, and tablets
Again, because of their higher value in relation to the physical size, computers and cell phones may also be subject to aggregate limits in compensation. However, because, unlike jewelry, these items are used on a daily basis, the limitations on compensation are much higher, possibly $5000 or more in aggregate value.
How can you receive some of the depreciation money that is withheld because of the age of individual items?
Some policies allow for the policy holder to recoup specific amounts of cash if they actually replace the property that was stolen. The purpose of providing compensation is to allow the homeowner to replace their stolen property.
However, some stolen property may have not have been used for a long time, so the homeowner may not use the compensation to replace some of the stolen items. The insurance company provides incentive to use the money to replace the items by offering to provide additional compensation in the from of depreciation rebates.
If the policy holder purchases a replacement for a stolen item and submits a sale receipt, they receive the withheld depreciation funds. The method is most rewarding when older items that are less likely to be replaced are submitted for compensation. In these cases, the depreciation reward may be much higher than the initial replacement compensation.
It all may sound very complicated, but your insurance company's claims adjusters are trained to make the process as painless and efficient as possible when you are at a very vulnerable point in your life.