This past week the San Antonio Express News (http://www.mysa.com) published an article describing claims suffered by several homeowners that had been denied in New Orleans. The content claims were flood related, and the accusation or criticism was against the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
According to the article, the claimant had submitted a supplemental list of items that they lost in the flood to the carrier. The NFIP claim adjuster asked the homeowner to provide original receipts of the items in order for the claim to be processed. Now, lawyers have been engaged on both sides to try and settle the dispute.
I don’t know the circumstances of the claim above, but several thoughts come to mind. First, I hope the policyholder’s Trusted Advisor is helping them resolve the issue. At Texas Associates, advocacy is the most important thing we do for our clients. At the time of a claim, particularly a catastrophe, most policyholders are struggling to put their life back together and the burden of dealing with a claims adjuster can be frustrating.
The second thought was, what in the heck is in my house and do I have the original receipts?
As a Trusted Advisor to a number of personal lines clients, we remind our customers to specifically schedule jewelry, fine arts, guns and any item of value or significance. If your home is furnished like ours, it is an accumulation of items over the years, some of which are handed down thru generations. To the surprise of many insurance carriers, original receipts just aren’t available or are difficult to secure.
There are a number of risk management tools that can be used to inventory household items. But one of the easiest tools may be attached to your hip. Almost every cell phone manufactured today has a camera feature. For those items that you have not specifically scheduled, take a picture of them and keep those records in a safe place. Or even better, take a few minutes to video record the inside of your home, paying particular attention to antiques or those items of value that may not be scheduled. On the video mention the item, its history and an anticipated value.
Copies of the video or pictures taken can be kept in the office of your agent or broker as well as off site in a lock box or secure location.
If you have questions about what should be specifically scheduled on a homeowners policy or what should just be separately inventoried, call our office. This simple exercise will help should you find yourself in a situation like the people interviewed in this article.