Having your property stolen is a serious interruption to your life. Fortunately, property insurance is there to replace your belongings and repair any damage. But having insurance coverage and actually receiving a fair payout for your loss are often two different things. If your insurance company has denied your claim or is trying to pay less than it’s worth, give Palumbo Law a call. We work with property owners whose insurance companies have failed to properly handle their property theft claims.
Losses Related To Theft
Theft is often accompanied by damage to property, whether it’s the property that was stolen and recovered or something that was damaged or destroyed in the process of the crime. For instance, if someone breaks into your car, you may need insurance to pay for both the stolen items and damage to your vehicle that need to be covered. The same is true if someone has broken into and burglarized your house.
Experiencing a theft is therefore more than just the economic loss of being a victim of crime. There’s a psychological element in having your privacy and safety violated. There’s certainly an inconvenience in waiting for your home or vehicle to be repaired. If you are able to retrieve your property, it could be vandalized or damaged, requiring further time and expense to fix. Your insurance company should make it easy on you, but often, this isn’t the case.
Why Don’t Insurance Companies Pay For Property Theft?
If you’ve spent any amount of time dealing with insurance companies, you know how disloyal they can be towards their policyholders. Ultimately, insurers are businesses. The more claims they deny, and the less they pay for losses, the higher their profits. That means even if you’ve been a faithful policyholder for years, convincing your insurer to cover property theft may prove to be a challenge.
These are some of the most common reasons insurers refuse to pay for theft and related losses:
Proving the policyholder owned the property. It’s relatively easy to prove property ownership when the loss is to a home or vehicle. But it’s more difficult to prove you owned stolen personal items like a laptop or jewelry. To make it more difficult, the insurance company may require a receipt or other proof of purchase before agreeing to pay for the theft.
Proving the theft occurred. To file a claim, your property insurance policy will require a police report to document a number of critical details about the theft. The report will be sent to the insurer along with other paperwork related to your claim. If the insurance company either doubts the truth of the report or suspects fraud, it will likely drag its feet before paying you.
Disagreement over the value of stolen items. Whether your insurance coverage pays for the actual cash value or replacement value will depend on your policy. Still, insurers and policyholders routinely disagree on the amount that should be paid. This is especially but not exclusively true with respect to the actual cash value. Contact an attorney if you believe your insurance company is attempting to pay you less than the property is worth.
Claims of lapsed coverage. As with any property insurance claim, your policy must not have lapsed due to missed premium payments. Even if you’ve faithfully paid your insurance premiums, the insurance company may claim they were late or not received. As a good rule of thumb, always keep proof of your premium payments.
Policy exclusions. Your insurer may respond by claiming the loss is not covered under your policy. Sometimes policies are relatively clear on this point and you will have no recourse with the insurer. Other times, often depending on the item that was stolen, this is a matter of policy interpretation. You can be sure the insurance company will find and use any exclusions it can to avoid paying you, so read your policy closely.
What To Do If Your Property Was Stolen
Don’t waste any time after discovering your property has been stolen. Insurance companies often attempt to deny claims because the policyholder didn’t take immediate action. Once you have determined that someone has stolen your property, take these steps:
Notify the police and make a police report. The police report will prove useful later in establishing basic facts about the theft, including how soon after the incident you reported it. Be sure to report anything associated with the theft, such as broken windows or damaged property. Obtain a copy of the police report and check it for any errors. If you see any, ask the police to correct them.
Take pictures and videos of other damage. If the thieves damaged your property, be sure to take pictures and record videos of anything on your property evidencing this. Some examples are a broken window or a door that was pried open. File a claim with your insurance company for this loss as well as the theft.
Speak with your neighbors. Your neighbors may have seen who stole your property. It’s even possible that the theft was recorded on a home surveillance system. Talk to your neighbors and see if anyone witnessed anything. Follow up with the police and let them know about it as well.
Read your insurance policy and file a claim. By now, you should have retrieved your insurance policy and read over it. Make sure there’s nothing in the policy that excludes coverage of the theft. If in doubt, ask an attorney. Your policy will instruct you how to file a claim, so be sure to follow the directions.
Keep records and notes. Retain any documents from your insurance company. Make notes of any conversations you have. Return phone calls and cooperate with your claims adjuster. If you run into any problems, give Palumbo Law a call.
Legal Help For Your Insurance Claim
Is your insurance company refusing to treat you with good faith? Do you have questions about your rights? Reach out to Palumbo Law today. We help policyholders receive fair treatment after their insured property has been stolen. Schedule your confidential consultation today.