Sunday, December 23, 2007

Being Prepared to Prove an Insurance Loss

Everyone understands the need to have insurance these days but many find themselves unprepared to calculate an actual loss when it occurs, much less prove it to an insurance company. The best way to meet both challenges is to create a record.

This article is designed to assist in creating the record in the easiest way but in a way that will satisfy an insurer as well. Like all preparation, it will require the expenditure of time and effort, but failing to do so may well result can have catastrophic effects, either personally or for a business.

It is surprising to see how many clients have spent the money necessary to obtain all the right coverage, and therefore assumed that they are fully protected, only to find out that they come up short when a fire or other loss occurs. The most common reason is there is not any way to recall everything lost. This leads to the next most common problem, being unable to prove to the satisfaction of an insurer what the loss is worth.


Save Receipts The easiest thing one can do to prove ownership and amount of loss is to have a receipt for every item. While it would be best to create folders for general categories of items,, appliances,electronics,china, etc., a suitable fallback method is to write on each receipt the nature of the purchase. While finding a specific receipt might take a while to find, it will be there when needed.

Create A Photographic Record Receipts are important but they obviously do not cover things for which you have no receipts, such as gifts or items which were purchased before years past. Such a record can be created either from still photos or a video. Create a record by systematically moving from room to room in an organized fashion. Take a picture of every wall, from every perspective, focusing carefully on anything which has personal or real value. Whichever method you employ, be sure your camera imprints the current date on the film. Also, update the record once a year to pick up new acquisitions and satisfy the insurer that the record is recent enough to be accurate.

Adequately Display Important or Valuable Items When creating a record, be sure to open cabinets and drawers, which contain valuable items such as china, crystal, and silver.

Keep Records Off-Site It should go without saying that having gone to the trouble of creating a record, it is important to carefully preserve it. Keeping the record in the very house that burns down makes no sense. Put all pictures, receipts, and videos in a safe deposit box or even take them to another offsite location such as a place of work. Just do not leave it at home!

Bottom line, it pays to create a record of the very things insurance is designed to protect.

By: Bruce E. Sulzner ESQ.

San Diego, CA

Bruce E. Sulzner is a San Diego-based trial attorney with more than 30 years experience in insurance bad faith, personal liability and medical malpractice defense. For more information, please contact: Bruce E. Sulzner, 619-238-8550.

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