In 2016, the FBI logged 2,643 burglaries in the city of Miami – that’s more than seven per day. What should you do if your home is burglarized? How can you get back your stolen property? First, focus on taking necessary steps to protect your home so that it is not a target of theft. Even if it is, however, there are several things you can do to ensure that if items are stolen from your home, you can have a good chance of recovering them.
1) Document, document, document. For purposes of theft prevention and recovery, it is essential to have documents backing up the existence, description, and ownership of really important items. This means taking photographs of the item, retaining the original sales receipt to establish to show what you originally paid for the item so that its current value can be better estimated, and keeping any other document that shows how the item came into your possession or vouching for its authenticity. This is particularly important for artwork, jewelry, coins, precious metals, and collectible items that are rare, unique, or highly valuable.
2) Keep the documentation separate from the item. The best place for these documents is a safe, or other secure location such as a bank vault that is accessible only to a few people. If you have taken photographs of items, print them out. Even if the photographs are backed up to the cloud or are on a hard drive, these backups can fail in major natural disasters such as fire, floods, or tornados.
3) Check on items regularly. You may see a piece of artwork every day and can know if it has been taken, but other smaller items may not get as much attention and can be discovered as missing far after they are actually taken. Get in the habit of verifying that valuables are where they are supposed to be.
4) Make it hard(er) to steal. This falls more under the prevention umbrella, but is still worth mentioning. For truly portable items, such as laptops or cell phones, see about hardware or apps that allow you to track the location of the device remotely or to lock out an unauthorized user. Even having a lock screen on these devices can make them less attractive to steal. For artwork, this may be more challenging, but a good security system can be a sufficient deterrent.
5) Notify the authorities and your insurance company immediately. The sooner an item is reported stolen after it is taken, the higher the chances are that it will be recovered. Be ready with your documentation including photos of the item, other identifying information such as the serial number, invoices showing how much you paid for the item and when, and any other information that might be useful to the police or adjustor.
6) Do not assume that your insurance company will fully compensate you. There could be a variety of reasons for this ranging from the minutiae of your insurance policy to the whim of the adjustor. Either way, it is wise to be wary of the insurance company and what they will offer you to compensate for your loss.
If you find yourself in the situation where your insurer is not being as helpful in compensating you for your losses, you should consult with an attorney who is familiar with insurers and their methods, like any of the attorneys at the Monifston Firm. We are well-versed in insurance policies, insurance law, and how insurance companies play this game. You should have someone in your corner who knows how to play the game too. If you need help with your insurance company contact The Monfiston Firm at 888-988-FIRM (3476) or Contact us for a free case evaluation today.