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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My house caught fire a month ago and burnt to the ground. I am now struggling with the insurance inventory. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I was told to put a value on clothing in a lump sum. I have no idea where to start. What do you think you would have? There is me and my wife and 2 girls. One 12 and the other 8.

What about food?

What about OTC medicines?

Does anyone have experience dealing with these nightmares?

Thanks in advance
Mike
 
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My house burned up on new years eve 2004. We had to inventory everything, it was a really hard ordeal. Our insurance company was really easy to get along with, but I still took pictures of everything, I gave the claims adjuster a cd with about a thousand pictures on it along with 45 pages of written claim. it took 4 of us 6 days to inventory everything, look up current prices, etc. I will never forget the least detail of the entire ordeal. if you would like, PM me and I can tell you more.
You may need to be able to back up your claims, if they appear to be over the top. For instance, if you claimed 800 Armani suits, or something. We basically counted up everything, and found a representative price, then multiplied out, for instance, 10 pair of 20 dollar pants, etc.
 

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Voice of Reason
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If course, you'll need the replacement value for all those things. I suspect that you'll need $20K to fully replace your family's clothes. The silver lining may be your shopping spree.

I normally encourage people to avoid lawyers and do their own research independently, but in this case a lawyer might give you some cost guidelines that insurance companies won't question. Lawyers deal with insurance companies on this level all the time. You don't want to be short-changed, so a quick and inexpensive consultation may pay for itself. I'm not suggesting that you hire a lawyer to negotiate with the insurance company for you, I'm just suggesting that you get his opinion on what you should ask for.
 
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I am sure that all insurance is not created equal, but in my case, I had a limit as to contents. The cash settlement on everything was adjusted for depreciation, for instance, a TV that cost 300 dollars 10 years ago would not automatically get you a 300 dollar reimbursement. Of course, you can replace things, but when you reach the limit of your coverage, you're done. My own experience, I ended up with a check near the maximum coverage figure, and bought what I wanted with it. We never did get another grandfather clock, but we got everything we needed. ALSO, in out case, the insurance company paid for the cleanup of the site. I got a few estimates on tear down and haul off, a few estimates on rebuild. I talked to the adjuster and ended up doing everything myself, including building the house back. The best estimate for a new house was 120k. the insurance would pay 90k. AND the actual cost was 35k and 6 months of my time.
 

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Mike,
I can't help, but I do want to extend my heartfelt sympathies to you for your disaster.

The only thing that I have ever heard is to really take some time before accepting the last check and final payment from insurance. I have only met a few folks that have lost everything to fire, and all of them said "I forgot about tons of things, and didn't get paid for them."
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the insight Zong. I have full replacement on the contents but that is only after I repurchase it. I have over 50 pages of inventory so far. I am writing down every nut and bolt. I have very little as far as pictures because we lost everything.

We settled on the house and I plan on acting as my own general on the rebuild. We are doing the demo ourselves. I plan on getting alot of my material from the builder supply auctions. Tell me more about your rebuild!!!!!!!!!!
 

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We have been thru a similar experience...One thing we learned early...DON'T LET THE INSURANCE COMPANY RUSH YOU ALONG..there is no time limit on when any prices etc. need to be turned in..we took our time..and I know we still forgot about things..clothes are expensive..don't cut yourselves short,,you've paid your premiums..so you have the right to get it as close as you can to the proper monies..
We didn't lose our home..just very badly damaged..I had to argue with the insurance on cleaning carpets etc..but aside from that,,it all went well..just took time to get it all put together.
So just take your time..think everything thru...and it should work out.

Judi
 

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A friends house was destroyed by a tornado. He said he got a Sears catalog and went through it to determine what he had lost. Don't forget the little things like potholders, etc.....
 

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My brother found it helpful to have someone (I did it) sit down with him and have him give me a guided tour through the house with his eyes closed. I had him visualize every room, every piece of furniture, every shelf and drawer and have him tell me (keeping his eyes closed) what was kept in each drawer, cubbard or closet. He remember many things he had not been able to think of. I wrote down as he listed off.

Sorry for your loss. Some things money just doesn't replace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the idea's. We have about every catalog here. We had family members write down things. We even went to walmart with the wedding registry gun and scanned items.

The main trouble is lump summing clothing, food, and meds.
 

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Mike I know your copy of your insurance policy probably went up in smoke too but get a copy from your company (and if you can, one from someone else insured with the same company) and have someone who knows what they're looking at go over the policy to give you a second opinion on what is and isn't covered 100%, deadlines, etc. When our house burned 4 years ago, the insurance company adjustor was , shall we generously say, "confused" about some of the terms of our policy. Fortunately we buy all our insurance for the farm through an independent broker who caught the adjusters "mistakes" on our behalf, but we probably should have gone even farther.

It's probably worth getting somebody, whether it's an experienced lawyer or (my suggestion) an independent broker or appraiser to go over things with you and let you know what you might be missing from your lists. We had a 6 month limit. Be prepared to push the issue with regards to getting reimbursed, some companies will let you go out of pocket on this for weeks. Our broker pushed hard and got us the money within 3 days everytime we submitted.

In our case, the cost of cleanup was to be deducted from the value of the settlement. The insurance company got some estimates ranging from $10,000 to about $15,000 for the cleanup, with a crew expected to be on site for 5 days. My dad's cousin brought his excavator and grapple and an old rock truck and did the job alone in 7 hours, and worked out a barter with us to cover his fuel costs.
 

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Should mention, don't be surprised if you have to find another insurer. Because we (and our broker) had the audacity to question some of what our adjuster told us, he had the company drop us as a bad risk immediately after the last check was cashed.

Our broker found us a company that has turned out to be easier to deal with for about 10% less, so I guess we got the last laugh.
 

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I had a house burn on the 17 of October. I am still in the waiting for a check from mortgage people. I had a policy that had a limit on everything not replacement. The adjuster came out and said it was toast. I filled out the papers on contents and gave them more than the policy covered. That is the easiest thing to do. I won't have to buy anything to replace what is lost. I don't have to keep record of what I buy and turn it in to the insurance.
 

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We had a replacement policy back in 1990. Total loss. Took a $48,000 under-insured loss. Still I am remembering things lost in the fire that I didn't list for the insurance co. And if you had any collectibles, they have to be documented and appraised to get what they are worth from the insurance. Don't know what we would have done without insurance, but the advice to look closely at your policy with the help of an attorney is a solid one.
 

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If you have credit cards, obtain the print-outs of your statements for the last five or so years - that gives you a good starting point for many of the items that you would never even remember when you have a claim.

You've had good advice above about getting a copy of your policy - if you have any type of state insurance association, they will be of assistance to you. Your insurer is under an obligation to provide you with a copy if you request it.

Another thing you could do would be to approach an INDEPENDENT appraiser/appraisal company for assistance on your behalf - they may be of much more value than a lawyer. If you had a relative/friend/friend of a relative, etc. they would be one of the best sources you could find to work on your behalf.

Do not sign off on your claim - you likely have about a year to complete it after your loss. You must file a Notice of Loss in most jurisdictions (within 30 days), but that loss form is not designed to indicate your total losses, but only to put the insurer on notice that you do indeed have a loss (and a major one). If you have not filed some form of notice of loss, ask the adjuster about it. Also note that the adjuster that has been supplied for your claim works for the insurance company and not you - that's why I suggest above that you see if you can locate an adjuster to work for you in order that you get the best that you can from the claim.

Also as noted above, make every effort to maximize your loss to the maximum of your policy. That will ultimately make the whole process easier for you and for all those little things that you notice months/years down the road that you forgot to claim.
 
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