Household insurance - large scale claims.

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meta4ick
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Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by meta4ick » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:20 am

Guys and gals. Watch brethren. Please indulge me a few moments of your time. Some of you might already know that a couple of years ago my family had a little "situation" at our house, namely a fire that basically wrecked the house and its contents.

Most importantly, everyone is fine. And miraculously, my watch collection was one of the very few things that made it intact through the debacle.

You need to know, word needs to get out, that when you are thrust into a situation where you have a large scale loss, the insurance company is not necessarily your friend. I can't speak for all insurance companies, but my sense is that most of them operate similarly.

The event occurs and you are at a supreme disadvantage, for instance sitting in front of your smoldering house wearing the only clothes that you possess- what are you going to wear tomorrow? Where are you going to sleep that night? Pets? :( Your files. Is anything left, salvageable? And so much more. Of course I am assuming that your loved ones are okay. Yeah, sounds awful. It is.

It doesn't matter that you've been faithfully paying premiums for twenty three years. Not one bit, okay? Just throw that right out the window. You will not be dealing with the sweet, warm guy you've been exchanging pleasantries with for years and years. You now have an "adjuster" who has dealt with plenty of crap from both ends of the equation, and is likely to be somewhat soiled by it all, not to mention desensitized to plights such as yours. You are not different, nor are you special. You are simply another event that is dealt with, in turn.

With that in mind, and this is definitely the short form, I am suggesting you do a couple of things in order to look after your interests, and those of your family. First, get a one gig memory card and photograph every damn thing in your house, including (but not limited to :) - pictures, books, jewelry, clothes, shoes, belts, trim features, doors, windows, siding, roof, landscape, furniture, plumbing fixtures, flooring, cabinets. Seriously, walk around the house and take a photograph of EVERY SINGLE THING in the house. It'll take you an hour, tops. Err on the side of too many pictures. You want to be able to count shirts and pants on hangers when you take a pic of the closet. If you have expensive taste, photograph labels when possible. Adjusters don't necessarily shop where you do, if you know what I mean.

Put the memory card somewhere safe, i.e., not at your house. Taking it to another level would be to keep receipts like a maniac. But if you are well-photographed and industrious on a computer, you can chase down everything. Remember, you are entitled to include toilet paper holders (w/roll), light bulbs, door bumpers, bathroom mirrors, everything... through your insurance policy. If you have to completely rebuild your house and replace all your belongings, take a second and think of everything that you would have to replace, or substantiate. Maintain that mentality when you take the pics.

Review your policy. Understand how "replacement" value and depreciation work in the scope of your policy. What about "code upgrades" during rebuild? Landscaping? Unseen damage found during reconstruct? What about "ALE" - additional living expenses - during rebuild? What are the parameters for determining a "suitable" rental property during reconstruction? I'm not screwing around here, folks. This stuff is serious. We all have policies, do you know what's actually covered on your policy?

First day, we were signing papers, in shock, granting permission for State Farm to do everything- document articles, rebuild, etc. Two days later, still very early on, we saw how our ability to recoup was being compromised, and hired a public adjuster. Paid them 10% of whatever we get back for contents and structure, and this particular company was worth its weight in gold. My advice- you have a large scale loss, flood or fire or whatever, hire a public adjuster asap. They will put the skids on the situation, control it, and make sure (at least in our case) that you get back what you are entitled to. And trust me, you are entitled to SO much more than you might think. Nothing shady, guys. Reality.

I'll leave it at that. If anyone ever has a situation, or wants to know more about how to protect themselves if they ever do, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be more than happy to help in any way I can, as will Ann. The outpouring of love and friendship and help we received during our time of need was extraordinary, and very welcome. We are ready, willing, and able to do the same.

March 13 will be the two year anniversary of the event. We sought early on to make this terrible life-changing situation an opportunity. We managed it through a lot of time, energy, and hard work. But we did it, you know? You can, too. Still in the final throes of dealing with the insurance company, but pretty soon that will be over as the two year mark approaches.

Sorry if I come across kinda heavy here, or negative. I'm really neither of those things. I am only trying to help you.

Best regards to all,



Rick.

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by aikiman44 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:22 am

Rick good post.
Hope everything's good.
I'll just add a good fireproof safe as a hedge against theft.
"We'd better synchronize our watches."

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by Diaboliq » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:28 am

Great post; very informal. I was planning to do the same but my sister told me I'm nuts :shrug: :scratch:
Hope your life moved on in a better way now :cheers:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by meta4ick » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:40 am

Diaboliq wrote:Great post; very informal. I was planning to do the same but my sister told me I'm nuts :shrug: :scratch:
Hope your life moved on in a better way now :cheers:

Thank you Jay, Joe. Everything is wonderful. Work is YIKES, but life is grand. Your sister is the one who's nuts, but hopefully she will never find out how nuts she really is.. .

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by Sooner » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:48 am

Great info, Rick. I've already saved it to my permanent files for future reference. Thanks!

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by andrema » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:50 am

I wish you the best of luck Rick!!

All the best,
Mark
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by matt.wu » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:54 am

Very informative and thanks for taking the time to share that, Rick. That's some wisdom that can, unfortunately, only come from first hand experience.

My wife and I just spent some time getting jewelry and watch appraisals done this past weekend, as well as photographing all our valuables. We've documented it all, along with value, and have a printed copy in a fireproof safe as well as a digital copy on my work computer and google docs. We thought we were being pretty diligent.

At your recommendation, though, I'll go ahead and take pictures of everything else as well. Thanks for the advice. I hope you and your family are doing well, and that you can close out everything with the insurance company quickly. :thumbsup:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by DoctorC » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:18 am

Not just with large scale claims, even small claims can be a hassle with your insurance company.
When our house was broken into, all jewelry and cash was taken. We were younger and living with my Father in law at the time. We never thought to look at the policy limits since it was in his name. There was a $3500 limit on cash and jewelry. One of Dad's rings that was stolen ate that up. There was no coverage left for any of my watches/rings, wife's rings/misc jewelry.

The final kicker was that the thief stole all the keys left hanging on a key rack. Keys for the cars, all the keys for my Alfa, and keys to the house. I asked the adjuster about changing the locks and they said they would not pay for new locks only what was stolen. They would only pay 97 cents each to replace the stolen keys. :raised:

I said so what if they decide to come back, this time with keys and rob us again or steal the cars? :tap:
I'm sorry we only replace what items that were stolen up to your coverage limits. :banghead:
Greg

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by TikkTakk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:37 am

Appreciate your post Rick :clap:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by cali kid » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:59 am

Rick thanks for the great info! On the brighter side one of my parents rental homes had a kitchen fire that gutted it and had some smoke damage in the home, thanks to quick response from a small volunteer fire company most of the home was saved! Now the adjuster that did my fathers claim was amazing and gave him any and everything he asked for, no questions asked and had a check for him in a few days! Granted it was only 10,000.00 dollars in damage but after everything was repaired think the old man was even able to pocket a bit of cash! One of the few happy endings working with an insurance company! :shrug:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by ezcheese » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:45 am

Bravo Rick! :clap: Excellent information. This thread has given me a lot to think about.
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by vbuskirk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:03 pm

Thanks for the prod. This has been on the 'todo' list for almost a year now. Must rent safe-deposit-box ...
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by polaco23 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:21 pm

Rick, were truly appreciative of you thinking of us! i will be doing exactly what you said, its a small thing to do, to be safe.

Thanks again Rick for the great advice, and im happy you and your family are safe, and recovered from this well.

Dude you rock!
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by meta4ick » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:29 pm

Thank you all very much for the well wishes.

And I get the feeling maybe I've gotten to one or two of you. Taking that time, at least with the photographs if nothing else, will save you many, many hours and a TON of money. If you ever needed that information, you would be thanking me over and over.

Yeah, I have a two hour fire rated safe.

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by bodypeersur » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:42 pm

Thanks for the valuable information Rick! I small amount of fore-thought can be very beneficial. Glad everyone walked away unscathed and your life is back to normal!
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by sinner » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:03 pm

Great post. I'm going to go crazy with the digital camera this weekend.
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by mrsnak » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:44 pm

Rick, that was a great post that was important to share.
I know all you've been through and also cannot encourage others enough to follow suit.

If you are renter, get renter's insurance, and also look at the policy carefully.

Dogs and guns aren't going to protect you from everything... :lol:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by snootydog » Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:34 am

Wise suggestions Rick :thumbsup: . Insurance companies can be an absolute nightmare when it comes to claims,i have heard that so many times from friends. I have been so lucky with my insurance company though,i seem to have found the one in a million that is helpful,fast and no quibbles. A claim for a leaky but newly built house extension was settled in days,a burglary claim and mugging claim were sorted in less than a week. In the case of the mugging,away from the house,the insurance company had new replacement goods delivered to me before the end of the week and two or three weeks later when i rang them to say i had just realised something else was missing,it wasnt a problem. So it can be a good idea to find out from friends with experience in this situation,exactly which insurance companies are helpful and which ones to steer clear of. Dont put it off untill its too late. -Andy :uj:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by hazmatman » Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:24 pm

Well stated Rick and thanks for sharing & educating us all. I remember when this happened to you and in 10 years with the fire service I saw plenty of people in that same situation, all those memeories came flooding back when you first told me your story.

Middle of the night or middle of the day...fire does not care.

Families would stand in their front yards dumbfounded while we reracked our hoses in the bed, after having dumped 100's of gallons of water into their homes. Tracked everything you can imagine that could burn or be carried by water in & out of their home...and then we drove back to the station. Back to warm beds or the meal we left on the table. Everything they owned had been burnt, or drowned, or both...and some was moved rather unceremoniously as we worked through their home and then some of it may have ended up into their yard or their driveway.

Whenever possible we attempt to cover belongings, move them away from the path of the fire or the water, but that's not always possible. Besides, if it's been cooking real good, you never know you just fell over a priceless antique 'cause it's pitch black. It ain't like the movies.

In the end everything that survives smells like we do when we're finally done...like acrid smoke. A constant reminder of the violation they felt as they stood helplessly watching it all burn. You truly empathize when you imagine that it could have been your home, your family, your pets, your cherished belongings.

Although some things can never be replaced, we keep a complete inventory of our household belongings, including books, CDs, DVDs, electronics, clothes, WATCHES, etc. I use MS Access. You can find other MS Office templates for a home inventory here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templ ... &av=TPL000 I would like to be more anal and scan all my receipts, but I have not done that yet. They are all shoved in an envelope, but those computer receipts do not last forever. They fade until you cannot read them, so if you can I would scan them as well. This also comes in handy if you choose to donate items, write them off as deductions and the old IRS comes a-callin during an audit!!!

I had not thought about hiring my own adjuster. Thanks for that tip Rick!!!

Bad things happen to good people everyday, but that doesn't mean you can't do something to make it less painful. Hopefully none of us here ever has to go through what Rick and his family did.

BTW, while I'm on my little Fire Marshal Bill Soapbox, check the batteries in your smoke detectors!!! Don't have a detector??? Get, at a minimum, one for every occupied floor. Use oil or gas for heat or hot water? Get a CO detector as well! I use a model that networks wirelessly with the other detectors, so I can put them anywhere in the house. When one goes off, they all go off. Your life or someone in your family's might depend on it.
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by TikkTakk » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:43 pm

Strong post Doug :clap:
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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by meta4ick » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:40 am

DJ- Damn. I actually thought about including a photograph that might serve to spur some of us to action, but you did that for me. I must emphasize that we are all okay now, in spite of still dealing with some insurance issues. Really pleased me to read that some of you were going to go nuts with a digital camera. Good thinking.

And one of you mentioned something about some notably good responses from insurance companies. Excellent. That's what they're paid to do. Not every business is the same, however, and the insurance company views a $100,000 claim a lot different than they view a million dollar claim, for instance. It's a different ball game and the players are different, too.

On another important note- DJ, your compassion is shared by many of your fire department brethren. Our FD responded amazingly quickly, mobilized with many trucks and people around our house and along the street. I had never experienced such an organized display of manpower before. Definite hierarchy of staff, too. But the guys in the trenches were coming up and asking if there were any specific things we wanted them to try to bring out of the house. Blankets, food, drink set up- everything explained slowly and sympathetically. So many firemen came up to us, told us how sorry they were for what happened. It wasn't just a job for these guys, they had big ole hearts in 'em.



Rick.

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by aikiman44 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:41 am

A common problem with smoke detectors is that the intermittent beeping even with good batteries. And if they're in series, the only way to stop this beeping is to remove all the batteries! :argue: :shrug:
"We'd better synchronize our watches."

Riley

Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by Riley » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:05 pm

Awesome post Rick. :thumbsup:

I'm sorry to hear you had to go through all that, but your advice will benefits us all.

This is the kind of thing that's always been a concern in the back of my head, but luckily I've never had to deal with myself. It will really help me be prepared if I ever have to deal with an insurance company. I'm sure it's an emotional time when you've lost so much, so it's good to be prepared just in case.

Thanks.

watch-man7777

Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by watch-man7777 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:54 pm

Just read your post, Rick. You're absolutely right to recommend this - and it's totally eye opening. Photographing everything is something we have been meaning to do, so thank you very much for the extra kick in the ass to get it done. I hope you and your family are doing much better after all you guys went through.

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Re: Household insurance - large scale claims.

Post by deepcdvr » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:21 am

Hey Rick

Glad everything eventually worked out for you.

GREAT suggestions!

Take pics, review policy, get a public adjustor and finally (most importantly) wear two sets of clothes to bed! :lol:

No, seriously, I'm taking your advice asap..

Thanks!
VR/
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