Most insurance claims involving theft stem from a stolen car or a car that's been broken into, or from a home (or garage) burglary. Of course, there are other types of theft, such as robbery, fraud, ID theft and high-tech theft, but the majority of claims will involve a car or house. In many instances, you'll have to go toe to toe with an insurance company to receive the compensation due to you. Do your homework before filing a theft claim.
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Things you need
- Police report
- Photos or videos
- Insurance policy and riders
- Adjuster fees (optional)
File a police report immediately upon discovery that you've been victimised. Call the police and request that they come to the scene of the crime, whether it's your house or a car park from where your car was taken. They may or may not come to the scene. If they don't, go to the police station and file a report in person. Make sure you take some time to clear your head and make a list of all the missing items. Don't leave the police station without a copy of the report complete with case number.
Review the police report. Contact or visit the police if you feel mistakes have been made in the report or you omitted some items. Do this before contacting your insurance company. Also review your policy before you call your insurance company.
Call your insurance company and report the claim. Request that they mail claims forms to you.
Find all the documentation you'll need to support your claim. Locate your policy and any riders, receipts, appraisals, photos and even tax returns or income verification records. You may be asked to prove that you had the means to purchase claimed items on the dates they were purchased. Document any items for which you don't have proof of purchase---gifts, for example---with statements from the items' sources.
Complete the claims forms and send them, along with copies of supporting documentation and the police report, to your insurance company.
Review the claims report and/or settlement that the insurance company forwards to you. Take notes of any issues you have. If you think the offer is fair, you can cash the check. If you have a problem with the settlement offer, contact the company and request an appointment with the claims adjuster. Be prepared for your meeting. Write an outline, point by point, and have documentation to support your claims.
Hire a public adjuster if you don't feel you're getting a fair shake. A public adjuster works for you; you pay him to investigate your claim. Obviously, your claim must be substantial enough to justify the outlay of an adjuster's fee.
Appeal the decision if all else fails. Again, documentation is key. Appeals decisions normally are final.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure you contact the right insurance company. For example, if your car is broken into and items are stolen, your homeowner's insurance is probably the carrier to contact.
- Know your policy details such as deductible costs. It doesn't pay to report the theft of a £260 CD player if you have a £650 deductible.
- Make sure your appraisals are up to date. Jewellery and collectibles appreciate, and your 15-year-old appraisal could leave you well short of the actual value of an item.
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