How to Make the Best Theft Insurance Claim

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Theft of your personal property or vehicle can leave you feeling violated and helpless. Still, you must compose yourself and provide your insurance company with the type of documentation it will require to process your claim and issue an adequate payout for your loss. You can expedite the settlement of many insurance claims if you keep receipts, photographs and pertinent paperwork readily accessible. Doing so will allow you to make the most complete and best theft insurance claim possible.

Call the police immediately once you have discovered the theft, and obtain a police report as soon as it is available. Your insurance company will require one.

Locate all documentation you have about the stolen items. If the theft was from the home, gather receipts, photographs and any appraisals you have on the items stolen. Classic vehicles or those with upgrades also should have appraisals and receipts, and should be insured for the total value of the vehicle at the time of loss.

Review your insurance policy. Some items -- such as expensive jewelry, art, tools and equipment -- have limitations for recovery value unless you have listed them and specifically obtained additional insurance on the items to cover the cost of replacement.

Take pictures of any damage to your property if the theft occurred inside the home. If your vehicle was stolen, take pictures of the parking lot or area from which it was taken, and document the event, including a how long you were away from the vehicle, whether the car was locked, and any additional equipment or personal property that was inside of the vehicle when it was stolen.

Call your insurance company to report the loss. If you have a local agent, deliver to his office a copy of the police report, the list of items stolen, and any appraisals or pictures so he can forward them to an adjuster. Fax or email copies of pertinent materials, as directed, to the adjuster if you do not have access to a local agent.

Tips

  • Always keep a copy of your vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and insurance card in your purse, wallet or fire-proof box you keep at home.

    In addition to the items stolen, your insurance company should pay for damage caused by a break-in or robbery if the loss is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

    Pay particular attention to the maximum limits paid out on items such as jewelry, watches, fine art and furs in your policy language, as well as any exclusion for types of loss.

    Personal property that is stolen from inside the vehicle and not attached to it often is covered under a homeowners policy rather than your automobile policy. You might be subject to paying a deductible for both your home and your auto insurance policies.

    Take photos of the rooms of your home as well as high-value items in those rooms. Keep receipts of particularly valuable household items. Place those items in your fire-proof box.

Warnings

  • If you have special equipment, specialty parts or a classic vehicle and have not provided the insurance company with the valuations prior to insuring it, you might not receive the full replacement value for your vehicle.

    Vehicles that have only liability coverage and do not carry comprehensive coverage do not have coverage for theft.