Are you ready? Are you ever?
Priscilla, her husband James and their children were enjoying a meal at a local restaurant when Priscilla received a call from her mother, who lived next door, that they needed to get home right away – their house was on fire. As fast as they drove, though, by the time they got home, everything was gone except the foundation and the charred remains of their lives. Oh – and the boat.
Like most of us, Priscilla and James didn’t have an inventory of their family’s belongings. They had replacement value insurance on their home and contents, but because James was on disability, their income was pretty meager, so most of the kid’s clothes were from thrift stores and Wal-Mart. They were sure they would never get what it would cost them to replace their items, especially because all the receipts went up in smoke and there was no way, they thought, that they could document exactly what they had.
Priscilla was confused and worried and wrote for help in order to submit their inventory to the insurance company. Your household inventory, like Priscilla’s, was more than just a list of what you have in the home; you have to prove what’s there. Proof can be hard to come by if the fire burned up your receipts or pictures of what you had in your house. Here are the steps Priscilla and James took to make sure they could get as much as possible for their charred home.
* Along with their list of furniture, Priscilla and James called their friends and family and gathered pictures taken at holidays and family get-togethers to show the condition of the furniture.
* James had been a carpenter before the accident and had a large workshop that was destroyed. The insurance company called and offered to replace the tools immediately, if James would provide a reasonable inventory. He submitted the list on the third day; a shipment of tools arrived on day six. The insurance company had an arrangement with a major construction supplier, letting them replace the tools at a lower cost if James would settle quickly. He ended up with as good a shop full of tools as he had before the fire.
* With the kids’ clothes, bedding and miscellaneous kitchen items, Priscilla sat down and made as complete a list as she could. After that, she went to the store and came up with an estimate of what else would be necessary to make a complete, reasonable household, including sheets, dishes and the other things you have but don’t think about.
The best part was that James and Priscilla were reasonable. Instead of looking to make a killing out of this tragedy, they were fair and honest in their inventory. They understood the position of the insurance company and did their best not to make it an adversarial relationship. They were by no means pushovers, but, as in the case of the tools, if the company had a working relationship with a retailer, they took advantage of it.
Where are they now? Priscilla, James, their children (and the boat) just closed on their new home and while they would never wish such a situation on their worst enemy, they are very pleased with how they were treated by their insurance company.