Be proactive in defending your possessions before a burglary occurs. Install security devices such as deadbolts and window locks and consider installing a security system that is directly connected to the police station.
Also create a room-by-room inventory of your personal possessions. Take photos of any valuable items and keep a record of serial numbers for items such as computers, televisions, gaming consoles and other home electronics. Store this information, along with any receipts or appraisals, in a secure site, preferably off-premises. For valuable items or expensive tools that do not have a serial number, etch a unique symbol into the item so you can positively identify it if anything is recovered.
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If you do have the misfortune of experiencing a burglary, do not touch anything, including the telephone, as this may destroy valuable evidence.
Exit the house immediately and contact the police. In most cases, a police report must be filed before a claim will be opened. Requiring a police report helps to cut down on insurance fraud.
Contact your insurance company or your agent as soon as possible. To make filing a claim easier, most companies have a 24-hour claims hotline. The number can be found in your policy documents.
Be sure to provide the claims representative with your current contact information in case they need to contact you with any additional questions or information.
Complete a walk-through of your home using your personal inventory sheets to identify any missing items. Also take photos of any damage or broken property before fixing or trashing it. This will help ensure proper reimbursement for these items from the insurance company.
Complete and return any forms the insurance company requests in a timely fashion. Without these forms, they may not proceed with your claim.
Stay on top of things. Do not be afraid to contact the police department or the insurance agency to find out how the case is proceeding.
Tips and warnings
- When purchasing a homeowners policy, be sure to know what it covers. For example, a homeowner's policy does not cover any damage cause by flood. Flood is a coverage offered under a separate policy by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
- Also, a policy may be issued on an actual cost value basis (price of home or item minus depreciation) or on a replacement cost basis (home or item will be replaced with a new comparable item).