A guide to insurance claims if you’ve been robbed

Suspect your home or car has been vandalized or had items stolen from it? Here are the steps to submitting an insurance claim.
You arrive home to find your screen door ripped wide open and your inside door slightly ajar. What do you do? Do you go in and look around or call the police first?

  1. Call police first. Before even stepping into your home, pull out your cellphone to call the police. It’s not just a matter of personal safety — after all, you don’t know who’s inside or even if anyone is still inside. But it’s also about filing a proper report and tracking evidence. So call first and don’t touch anything until after the police arrive at your residence.
  2. Ensure your safety. After the police have taken their report, work on securing your home from further damage. That means boarding up a window or door if it’s been smashed, etc.
  3. Take an inventory. Go through the house (or your vehicle — whatever has been stolen from or vandalized) and make a list of suspected damages or items you think are missing. To the best of your knowledge, include the serial numbers of items, approximate date and place of purchase using receipts you may have stored, as well as make and model of items. (Pull out all the paperwork you have on hand for missing items, along with receipts — think warranties, operation manuals, etc.) Better yet, take photos or even videos of the damage or areas of items missing to show the insurance operators. The more documentation, the better!
  4. Call your insurance company. But first, pull out your home insurance policy to have it on hand for reference. Better yet, review your insurance coverage before you get on the phone so you know what to expect. On the phone, you’ll describe what happened, provide the police file number, review your coverage, discuss possible repairs, confirm the deductible amounts, and obtain a claim number to refer to and more. You will likely have to submit a written list as well.
  5. Follow up. Your insurance agent will likely recommend contractors they work with to fix any necessary repairs. Contact the contractor, get an estimate to review with your claims advisor and then go ahead with the repairs once you’ve received clearance from that advisor. Your insurance advisor may also suggest ways to improve your home security, such as installing a home or auto security system, which you may want to implement.

Keep in mind that these steps could vary widely — it depends largely on what happened to you, your insurance coverage and what your insurance company requires. But starting with these steps should get you back on the road to feeling secure in your home or car once again.

A guide to insurance claims if you’ve been robbed
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