Stolen Christmas presents

If my Christmas presents are stolen, can I claim it on insurance?

Let's look at some different situations. As with most insurance claims, there is no "pat" answer.

Situation #1
You are shopping at the mall and have your vehicle parked in the parking lot. The vehicle is already half full with bags of goods you have purchased that day. You return to the car to find that it has been broken into. All your bags are gone. You will immediately report this to the police, and possibly file an insurance claim. Be aware that most insurance companies will take off the "claims-free discount". you may be receiving upon renewal of your policies.

1. The first claim would be under your auto insurance, and could include:

  • Damage to the vehicle when the door was jimmied open, or the glass was broken to gain entry.
  • A rental vehicle for your use, while your vehicle is under repair.
  • A deductible will have to be paid by you for your share of the claim. The amount depends on your schedule of insurance.
  • There are a few companies now granting a minimal amount of $500 for property claims. If this is offered by your insurance company, then you would also list the property stolen from the vehicle. Otherwise you will have to claim, separately as shown below in (2).

2. The second claim would usually be under your property (home, tenants, condominium unit) insurance:

  • Replacement of the items stolen, if you decide to purchase new.
  • Certain high-valued items have set limits for theft coverage. Be aware of what your limits are on your policy.
  • Actual cash value - a depreciated amount, if you decide to accept a cash settlement.
  • A deductible will have to be paid by you for your share of the claim. If you have your home and automobile policy with the same company, then often the lower deductible is waived on this type of claim. If not, then the amount depends on your schedule of insurance.
  • If you purchased your gifts using certain credit cards, then you may have a provision for replacement, without filing an insurance claim through your property policy.

Whichever way you go, you need to make a list of what you bought and what you paid for it. You will need to provide this list to the insurance company, if you do make a claim. Be aware that at a time of stress (as if Christmas shopping isn't enough!), it is hard to think straight. Make that list and keep adding to it as you think of items. If you had a shopping list, and have marked things off, then that will be very helpful. Do include the wrap, tape, cards, decorations and other sundry items you might have purchased.

Situation # 2
Someone breaks into your home over the holiday season, and steals your Christmas presents. As John Prine sings, "some humans aint' human". You are going to have a loss of property for the stolen gifts. You might have other damage, as this type of theft often includes some vandalism. Be sure to check over the house carefully, for they may have also stolen other property. Be careful to confirm that your extra sets of car keys and house keys are still on the key rack. Again, you will be contacting the local authorities and reporting the crime. Call your insurance agent or broker or directly to the insurance company, to get the claim started.

  • You are going to have to prepare a list of what has been taken. This will mean not only listing all the gifts that you have purchased, and put under the tree, but the gifts from others. You will have to contact these people and find out what was given, when it was purchased, how much they paid for it, and the current replacement cost. This is rather a daunting task.
  • Again, if you purchased your gifts under a credit card, then a portion may be covered under that specific insurance. Call your credit card company to see what they can do for you, to help get this portion of the claim underway.
  • If you have done an inventory of your possessions, then this will help you in claiming other items that have been stolen, damaged or destroyed during the course of the break-in. We have heard of situations where friends or family members keep an inventory list for the other person. This is particularly useful if there is a fire. Do check to be sure that the thieves do not now have your friend's inventory list - he could be the next target!

Coverage that may be invoked in this situation could include:

  • Repair costs for damage to the building, as a result of the theft.
  • Lock replacement if it has been damaged.
  • If there is extensive enough damage to make the home unfit for your occupation, then there is additional living expenses available while your home is being cleaned and restored to its former condition. This could involve you living in a hotel for a short while, to renting a similar property. It would depend on how extensive the damage is to your home.
  • Replacement value of the items that you wish to replace.
  • Actual cash value for the items that you choose not to replace and want a cash settlement, (usually about 80% depreciation if new items).
  • Deductible will apply for this loss. You will also see an increase in your premium next year for the loss of your "claims-free discount", if applicable.

For all claims, the insurance adjuster is the authority on what is covered and what is not. Your agent or broker can be very helpful with facilitating, but is not authorized to confirm or deny coverage. If you are not sure about what is actually covered, then be prudent in your expenses, as you may find yourself not being able to recover all costs.

We at Turner's Tips, recommend that you keep an inventory list and keep it on Google Documents, or email a copy to yourself. Another option, is to keep that inventory list in your safe deposit box.