Filing a Burglary Insurance Claim
When you come home and discover your home has been broken into, the first instinct is to freeze, and then grieve. It's difficult to dissociate the connection between self and the things that belong to you, and when the loss of those things is coupled with evidence that your personal space has been violated, it's an emotional gut-check. However, don't freeze up: action is the key. It's time to file a theft or burglary insurance claim with your homeowner's insurance, to start getting your life back.
Get off on the Right Foot
At the first sign of a break-in, verify that the burglar isn't still on the premises, and call the police immediately. Don't enter the home unless absolutely necessary, so that the crime scene isn't disturbed. Once police give the green light for entry, try to begin taking stock of what is missing. Part of the homeowner's insurance policy process is filling out an inventory of items in the house, which should be updated every year, and this is where it becomes absolutely necessary. Call your insurer at the earliest moment, because if it is a major theft they will likely send out an adjustor to investigate.
Document, Document, Document
Try to keep as organized as possible. Obtain several copies of the police report, for your records and for the insurance agency. Verify your homeowner's insurance coverage for theft limitations, and find all paperwork pertaining to any major appliances, jewelry, financial instruments, or other items which were stolen which might have been registered for warranties, as this will help the insurer to investigate the theft and for you to prove the claim. Keep copies of the adjustor's report, if they send one, and any letters or communications the agency sends you, in case of claims denial.
When to File a Claim
If your insurance deductible is $500 or more (most people keep theirs high to keep their premiums down) and the theft amount was less than that, it isn't a good idea to file a claim: you still have to pay out of pocket for replacement, plus there is a record of the claim, which could influence insurance rates unfavorably. Insurers don't necessarily look hard at the amount of the claim that was filed; they focus on the number of claims. Several small claims could result in higher insurance. If the value of the stolen items is much higher, then by all means file a claim.
How They Pay
Once the insurance agency has concluded their investigation of the theft they will formulate a response, where they make an offer on paying the claim. One lucky break is that they replace old things for new, so if your stereo system was on the ancient size they'll replace it with a new one, albeit of the same make and model, if available. If there were any items stolen from your vehicle, those will be reimbursed as well, as long as they were household items or things not covered under an auto insurance policy such as a GPS.
Filing a burglary insurance claim is not a fun process, but it is a necessary one, in order to begin your family's recovery from the trauma of the break-in. By replacing the stolen items and gaining some closure on the situation, you can concentrate on the future. Burglary and theft insurance as provided by a homeowner's insurance policy is peace of mind for you and your family.