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Unique Issues Involved in Homeowner’s Insurance Claims Related to Vandalism or Theft

The family home serves many functions that fulfill the emotional and physical needs of security.  The protection and security of a home is enhanced by features like alarm systems, deadbolts, security lights and similar security measures.  However, a residence cannot be completely safeguarded from criminal acts like theft and vandalism.  Even if a homeowner installs a state of the art security system, malingering teenagers can still through a brick through a window, and burglars can still clean out your home while you are on vacation.

While homeowner’s insurance can allow you to repair damage caused by vandals and replace stolen items, there are special issues involved in bringing homeowner’s insurance claims related to these types of intentional criminal acts.  The best way to obtain answers to specific questions is to speak to one of our Miami homeowner’s insurance lawyers, but this blog post discusses three common issues relevant to property damage claims related to vandalism and theft claims.

Determination of Value of Stolen Items

Certain valuable items like jewelry, rare coins, and expensive art must be itemized on your insurance policy.  If an insured has expensive personal property that must be expressly listed, the items should be appraised.  Policyholders typically presume that the amount the insurer pays for such a loss will be based on a reasonable estimate of the items appraised value.  Insurance companies frequently use the purchasing power associated with buying a high volume of merchandise from a vendor to obtain a lowball estimate of the replacement value of a piece of jewelry or other piece of personal property.

While the insurer will establish policy premiums based on a value closer to the appraisal value of these items of personal property, the insurance carrier will then attempt to offer a more conservative amount based on the discounted amount when paying the claim.  One way to avoid this tactic is to determine the individual that the insurance company uses to appraise such items which would permit you to use the same appraiser prior to the underwriting process for your policy.

Occupation of the Home

If a home will be unoccupied, the duration of an insured’s absence from the home can have a significant impact on vandalism claims.  Even if the policyholder has not vacated the home, the insured might be absent from the property for an extended period because of a summer vacation or a temporary job relocation.  Insurance companies often deny coverage if a home is left vacant for a prolonged period.  While the carrier generally will not consider the house vacant if the house remains fully furnished, the insurer will tend to deny a vandalism claim when the home is not furnished for more than a certain period of time, such as sixty days depending on the state.

The rationale behind policy exclusions based on the home being vacant is that criminal wrongdoers like vandals are more likely to target a home that looks abandoned.  This can pose significant challenges for property owners who has placed a home on the market for sale.  If you live in a jurisdiction where vandalism claims are only covered up to the 60th day of vacancy, it is important to recognize that the claim will be covered if you are traveling, but the claim will not be covered if the home has been cleared out to facilitate selling the home.

Protecting Property Damage Claims from Vandalism or Theft

There are actions that an injured needs to take to protect the value of a theft or vandalism claim.  The most important initial step is to file a police report.  If you file a claim for either of these criminal offenses, the insurance company will conduct an investigation.  The insurer will carefully review the police report to substantiate that the crime occurred and to verify value and identity of items damaged or stolen.  Because the insurer will pay careful attention to the police report, an insured should supplement the report if items that were stolen are not listed in the original police report.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano:  Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence 

If you or your family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Miami or the surrounding areas of Florida, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano can explain your options and tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve.  For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida.  We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald.   Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

 

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