Fire damage to your home and the subsequent fire insurance claim process can be the most difficult type of claim to deal with due to the nature and scope of loss. The personal property portion of the claim offers no relief as many claimants struggle to recount and organize a comprehensive list of damaged items or worse, they allow their insurance company adjuster or third party vendor to handle that portion of the claim. As such, this part of the fire claim process is usually the most mismanaged and comes at a high cost to the claimant.
The main objective of this part of the claim is to document, claim and collect the full amount of what the insurance company owes you for what it would cost to replace the contents that were damaged by smoke and/or fire. To do so requires a proactive, dedicated and highly organized approach. Many people elect to hire professional claim help to ensure every penny their entitled to is collected.
A fire claim adjuster – or a public adjuster—is a licensed insurance professional who can be hired to document and value losses and negotiate claim settlements. A good public adjuster will save you time, aggravation, lost money and will likely get you a higher settlement than you would get on your own.
Here are steps on how to complete the best personal property inventory list without professional assistance from a fire claim adjuster.
Since copiling a list of all damaged items can be overwhelming and daunting, start small. Our public adjusters suggest starting with a pen and a small notebook dedicated to personal property items and notes. In your mind, visit each area of your home. Jot down the items that come to your mind which will typically be larger items such as furniture and electronics.
If your home is a total loss, this technique can still be done in your mind’s eye or by visualization. Begin with the entry way to each room and walk clockwise around the room. Open each and every cabinet, drawer and closet. Write down every single items, regardless of size or price. At this point, don’t allow yourself to get stuck on trying to jog your memory. If you’re having a hard time remembering, move on for now.
Look for personal property items in photographs on your phone or computers. Items such as clothing, jewelry and smaller collectables are often visible in photos but harder to recall by memory. Additionally, consult with family and friends who have spent time in your home.
It’s now time to organize your list in a format that should be acceptable by most insurance companies. If you hire a public adjuster to handle your personal property fire claim then then make certain he or she will use and submit the claim in the industry-standard software universally accepted by insurance companies.
If you’re going at it alone then our claim adjusters recommend using an Excel spreadsheet. Each room in your home that sustained fire and smoke damage should be divided between tabs or worksheets that are specifically titled. Each worksheet should have six columns titled:
Input items from your notebook into the spreadsheet.
Find a comprehensive personal property inventory list either online or from a reputable public adjuster. Inventory lists contain things big and small that people typically have in their homes. Looking over this list will help jog your memory about items you’ve forgotten to include.
Insurance companies often provide these lists but they are typically very generic and as such, are not valuable for this exercise. Remember to include every items from toilet paper to toothpicks. Every forgotten item is money lost.
Assembling and submitting your personal property claim after fire damage to your home is a daunting and time-consuming task, even for an experienced claim professional. If you are experiencing delays or issues over valuation and depreciation of your personal property then it’s of utmost importance that you consult with an experienced fire claim adjuster, or public adjuster ASAP.