What you need to know about your homeowners insurance policy to ensure you’re covered in the event of a burglary.
Imagine packing your cooler, towels and sunscreen into the family SUV to take the kiddos to the beach. You plan to leave early and come back after a sunset dinner overlooking the water. Imagine now that somebody saw you leave, knew you were leaving or just rang the doorbell and peeked in a window to find out you were gone. What an opportunity!
They go around back, break a small window, unlock your door and now have full, unfettered access to all of your personal belongings and household items. It doesn’t take long to start stuffing a pillowcase full of your jewelry, family heirlooms, cash and collectibles. Because time is of the essence and neatness doesn’t count, they cause quite a bit of damage when pillaging your household.
Imagine the feelings of helplessness and vulnerability that would overcome you upon returning from your relaxing time away. Call the police? Absolutely. But what next?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies will insure you against vandalism and theft. This means you will be reimbursed, subject to a deductible, for the physical damage to your dwelling, including doors, walls, floors, counters, cabinets and the personal property that was taken or destroyed.
Your reimbursement depends on your coverage and the policy terms and conditions. When selecting homeowners insurance coverage, you will be offered replacement value (current market price of the item) or actual cash value (the price someone would pay for the used item) reimbursement terms.
Some policies will pay you actual cash value immediately then pay you the difference between that amount and replacement value, but only when you replace the item. Between the two choices, I recommend replacement value always.
Keep in mind there are limits. The most any insurance company will pay for your loss is the amount shown on the declaration page under personal property coverage. It’s up to you to decide how much coverage to purchase. I recommend thinking about how much it would cost to put your house back the way it was if it were emptied out.
But, as in all insurance cases, there are limitations and exceptions. For instance, jewelry is usually limited to a total amount and single item amount. Some policies may have a $5,000 maximum for all your jewelry and of that $5,000, the most they will pay for any one item is $2,500 then $2,500 toward the rest.
Check your declaration page to see what limitations are placed on personal property. If you own collections worth more than the maximum reimbursement amount, ask your insurance agent for a rider policy that specifies each item to be insured, the replacement value based on an appraisal, the terms and conditions for reimbursement and a premium for the total.
While nothing can replace the feeling of loss and vulnerability, the proper insurance can at least replace your lost items and repair the home damage. For a free policy review or consultation after a loss, call our office so we can help you navigate the process.
Michael Brehne has dedicated his 24-year career to representing injured people in motorcycle and car accidents, and represents people when their insurance claims have been denied. He has earned a reputation as a tenacious and skilled trial lawyer when representing his clients against large corporate defendants and insurance companies. He is also the author of “Watching Out for Florida Motorcyclists: Legal Rights of Injured Bikers.”