June 26, 2017

Can “hoarding” affect your insurance claim?

How much stuff is too much?  In a recently published article* for claims adjusters, much is discussed regarding estimating damages for insurance claims in homes with excess personal property.

Some of the concerns adjusters are looking at (like all claims) are:

  1. Source of the loss
  2. Date of the loss (was it there before the policy was in effect?)
  3. Extent of the damages – some may not be readily visible
  4. Pre-existing damage – poor air quality and mold
  5. Did the homeowner mitigate the damages?
During the investigation, the insurance adjuster is trying to determine all of the above items while trying to work around the insured’s personal property.  The insured may become angry, or as we have seen personally – depressed and saddened that their “secret” is out.  The insured may not be completely helpful or forthcoming with the information that the adjuster needs to complete the investigation of the claim, and legitimate coverages may be missed.  It is also easy for items the homeowner sees as irreplaceable to be classified as valueless trash by the claims adjuster.
Also, how can the adjuster know that the table under a stack of books is damaged and what it’s value might be if he cannot see it?
During these time, it may be best that an neutral, third party become involved on the insured’s behalf to help ensure that all damages are reported, documented and claimed under the policy terms and conditions.
In an exerpt from the atrcile, it is disturbing to see the slant given to the following:
“Once a source is identified, however, hoarded contents often prevent access to adjacent areas and stymie an evaluation of the damage. Furthermore, most investigators do not intend to conduct extensive moving, categorizing or organizing of contents in an effort to delineate the damage. As a result, the investigator may overestimate the impact of a release or fail to differentiate between new and pre-existing damage. This dilemma can often lead to disputes over the extent of cleaning and restoration needed.”
We would agree that “most investigators do not intend to conduct extensive moving, categorizing or organizing of contents” in determining the full scope of the damages suffered by the insured.  It seems a bit alarming to see “this dilemma can often lead to disputes over the extent of cleaning and restoration needed” stated so lightly and without follow up.
How can the adjuster make any determination of damages without “extensive moving, categorizing or organizing of contents”?
Before anyone you know that may be in such a situation settles their loss for a homeowners or personal property damage claim, please have them contact us for a free claim review.
American Property Loss Services, Inc.
(855) 757 – APLS
*Read the full article here:

Comments

  1. PublicAdjuster says:

    11 Firefighters Injured in Home of New Jersey Hoarder

    Another reason too many personal property items can affect the insurance claim. In addition to the injuries to emergency personnel, in this case the firefighters had to throw items out of the window into the street, many of which will never be recovered or compensated for.

    Article seen on ClaimsJournal.com (link below)

    A fire in the home of a New Jersey hoarder has killed 20 cats and injured 11 firefighters, most of them from throwing piles of heavy debris.

    Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost tells The Record newspaper that Tuesday’s blaze was one of the most dangerous fires he has seen.

    The chief says one firefighter was taken to the hospital for back and leg pain after he tripped and fell inside the home. Ten others sustained pulled shoulders and sore backs from throwing piles of debris out the windows.

    http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/east/2011/12/22/197478.htm

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