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skfinkel's avatar

Advice for dealing with insurance company after theft?

Asked by skfinkel (12864 points ) October 14th, 2011

My home was burglarized—mostly antiques and fine things (most very difficult to price) were taken. Any advice in dealing with the insurance company, which seems to have a very short deadline to deal with all this.

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11 Answers

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Insurance issues concerning antiques on a basic over all plan is quite tricky and I am sorry but in most cases where you did not take the time to appraise your items and obtain insurance on individual pieces of value, let’s say you have a 200 year old vase that is worth $10,000.00 The insurance will re-pay you for the vale of 1— vase. It’s not the value of the item itself they concern themselves with but the replacement of the object as a useful, functional household piece of kitch.

That’s about the best you can expect.

*I am a dealer, a buyer, and an appraiser so. If you need any values give me descriptions and names and I can help you out. I deal primarily in Asian art and textiles but I can appraise anything.

Kayak8's avatar

I am very curious about the short time-frame (unless it is to ensure that you overlook something). I had a house fire and had several months to produce a final list of damaged/obliterated items. I would call my agent and ask what the rush is about . . . I would explain that I am checking with local pawn shops and antique dealers to mitigate their loss as best as possible.

CWOTUS's avatar

I can understand the insurance company’s intent: You had a burglary, and they want to settle the claim ASAP. They don’t want you to have time to inflate the claim in any way; they need to know what the items are so that they can do their own evaluation and adjustment. Their auditors also don’t want claims lingering, as that represents an unresolved liability on their books.

I think I also agree with @GabrielsLamb here: Unless you had a separate rider – and documentation to prove – the value of the antiques “as antiques”, then they’ll make their settlement offer on the value of “comparable household items”. A Chippendale chair, for example, would be compensated as “dining room chair” – unless you have documentation to show otherwise. (Even then, if your house happens to be a miniature antique shop, then you need to have coverage to reflect that valuation.)

skfinkel's avatar

What I did have is a picture of many of the items sitting on shelves in the dining room, and from that picture, one can see what is described. I also have been looking online to find comparable antiques (a beautiful inlaid jewelry box for example, that was signed 1914). I know this is going to be hard, but can I hold out for similar items? If no picture exists, is there anything I can do?

GabrielsLamb's avatar

It’s not always a matter of a picture, what you need are appraisals from licensed professionals with proof in writing. Pictures like I stated will only replace the item itself, not its value.

What was the jewelry box made out of? Do you know if it had a mark on it other than the date? A makers mark perhaps? Was it wooden or porcelain?

What you should do if you want to find your own items is do a local search of the acution houses in your area, as well as the pawn shops. People who steal antiques often know what they’re doing and will try to sell in the easiest way possible.

Find your local antique auctions and search their catalogs. It will give you some idea of what is around and out there and you can also post flyers in each place as well so that people know what not to accept from anyone looking to sell them, that will make the thief desperate and more obvious in that you are reducing their ability to sell what they stole.

marinelife's avatar

You probably needed to have a rider on your policy to cover the antiques. Good luck. Do you have photos of the pieces?

I am sorry for the horrible violation. I have had my house broken into, and it feels awful.

Jeruba's avatar

@GabrielsLamb, if @skfinkel found her vase being auctioned or sold, what would she do? Suppose she walked up and said “That’s my vase”? What then?

skfinkel's avatar

@marinelife: If I am covered for thousands to get me back “where I was” then why won’t I be covered for those things? Why a special rider? What is the premium I am paying every month to cover actually covering? I am hoping it won’t be too bad.

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Bellatrix's avatar

Here in Australia, insurers will often require you to insure items over a certain value or of a particular type separately. Antiques would fall into this category.

If you could find the items in a pawn or antique shop, you could perhaps contact the police and report the dealer for selling stolen goods. It might help you get them back if you can prove ownership with photographs.

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