Suffering through a burglary of any kind is traumatizing enough, but having to sift and sort through insurance paperwork and phone calls can make the experience even more unpleasant for anyone!
Understanding what you might expect from your insurance company after a burglary or theft and other similar incidents can help make this process easier on you overall. Remember that each insurance company is different in its processes. Procedures are often different for a home invasion versus someone breaking into your car, but note some basics to remember after you’ve suffered a burglary of any sort.
Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Break-Ins?
Homeowner’s insurance usually has two coverage policies that may help you recover some of the costs associated with a break-in. These policies are called dwelling coverage and personal property insurance. What do these two types of insurance policies typically cover?
- Repairs needed to your home after a break-in
- Replacement of damaged materials due to the break-in (i.e., broken windows, broken doors and doorframes)
- Cleanup required after a break-in
Personal property insurance:
- Loss of personal items during a burglary
- Damage of personal items during a burglary (i.e., a thief steps on something and breaks it)
- Repair of vandalism to personal items during a robbery (i.e., a thief cuts up your mattress looking for money or pries open a safe)
How Much Coverage Is There for Break-Ins?
Items covered by dwelling insurance
Items reimbursed under your dwelling coverage policy are replaced with the same quality materials. In other words, if a thief broke down your solid wood front door, your insurance company would reimburse you for the cost of a similar wood door rather than a cheaper fiberglass or a more expensive steel door.
Items covered by personal property insurance
Cash reimbursement for stolen or irreparably damaged items covered under your personal property insurance is different. These items are typically figured at depreciation amounts. For example, if you bought your computer for $300 two years ago, but that same computer would only sell for $200 today, your insurance company would reimburse you for today’s price, not the price you paid at the time of purchase.
Stolen or damaged items
Your insurance for stolen or damaged items has limits as well. These limits are often 50% to 70% of the amount of your homeowner’s insurance, or the amount needed to rebuild your home. If your home is valued at $200,000, for example, you probably won’t be reimbursed for more than $100,000 of stolen property.
Many individual items listed on your homeowner’s insurance will also have their limits; a diamond ring, piece of artwork, piano, or other such valuable items might be insured for a certain amount and no more. Even though that ring or other belongings might be appraised for a higher value at the time it was stolen, you would only be reimbursed for the limit noted in your homeowner’s insurance.
As with all other forms of insurance, you might also have a deductible that you would need to meet or pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in and pays the remaining balance.
These details are all outlined in your homeowner’s insurance policy, so be sure you understand these limits, your deductible, and so on before a burglary occurs, to know what to expect if this should happen to you!
Before a Break-In: Preparing for the Unexpected
While it’s good to know what to expect from insurance after a burglary, it’s best to prepare for the unexpected before a break-in! Taking an inventory of your personal property is an excellent idea for any homeowner, so note some tips on how to do this successfully:
- Make a list of especially valuable items, including fine jewelry, artwork, antiques, fur coats, high-end leather clothing, or musical instruments.
- Make a list of your high-end electronics, including computers, smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, video cameras, televisions, and other entertainment accessories.
- Guns, knives, and other such weapons are often stolen during a burglary, so be sure you have a complete inventory of any such items in your home.
- Make a note of your major kitchen appliances including the brand and size and year of manufacture.
- Make a list of all your furniture in each room and especially antiques, high-end leather items, and other items that would be expensive to replace.
- Make a list of any otherwise expensive items you might have stored away in your home, such as holiday décor, fine china, seasonal sporting goods, and lawn care equipment.
- Note any vehicles that are not covered by their own insurance policy, such as a moped, snowmobile, bicycle, or electric scooter.
- Note your wardrobe items and especially those that would be expensive to replace, such as leather handbags, designer suits and shoes, and other high-end pieces.
Be sure you note the make, model, brand, size, date of manufacture, time of purchase, special features, and other such details about each item in your inventory. You also want to take pictures of all those items and keep those pics with your inventory and paperwork!
What To Do Right After Being Burglarized
- Take an inventory of everything that’s been stolen or damaged
- Collect any paperwork on those items; this might include receipts for their purchase, appraisals, and photographs, as well as your inventory records
- Contact the police and file a full report
- Contact your insurance company and file a report
- Take photos of any structural damage to your home
- Take pictures of damaged personal items such as a mattress that was cut open, a safe that was pried open, and so on
Remember that it’s vital you cooperate with the police and your insurance adjuster during this time. An adjuster might need to come to your home to review the damage, so be sure you don’t clean up or try to make repairs until they’ve completed their investigation!
When an Insurance Claim is Settled
Once your claim is settled, you’ll receive reimbursement for stolen items minus your deductible and any depreciation or other such costs. Be sure to keep this information for your records so you can double-check that everything was included!