What to do after a break-in

First off, you notify your local police. Do not enter the premises! The police do prefer that you not disturb the crime scene. Call them and they will direct you on what to do next.

Contact your insurance company either directly or through your Agent or Broker. Most offices will have an emergency contact number on their "after hours" telephone message. The Adjuster can answer questions and give you some direction. Make sure you get the Adjuster's specific telephone number in case you want to call them back.

Be aware that you are "under stress". It can be difficult to remember simple things at a time like this. This is normal, in fact, firemen call it "trauma amnesia".

Do what you can to limit further damage to property. Often a burglar will drop items or damage property as they go through your home. If a lock is broken, then you may need to call in a Locksmith to have it replaced. A broken window may need to be boarded up. If the circumstance is such that you have to remove property to protect it from further damage, this property will have coverage extended to the temporary location. For example, a severe windstorm damages the house causing considerable water damage to building and contents. As soon as possible after the storm, steps should be taken to prevent further damage, such as repairing the shingles or the roof, removing vulnerable personal property such as furnishings or oil paintings, and closet contents. Any extra expense in moving these contents and making temporary repairs, is considered part of the claim.

You will have to make a list of all property stolen or damaged. You do not need to do this right away. Any items that are damaged should not be removed but held until the Appraiser or Adjuster gives you permission to move or discard. It is normal to feel upset about this invasion of your home. Do try to be calm.

Keep track of the time you spend on this work and the time of others who help you. The insurance adjuster may give a credit towards the deductible as repayment.

If the home cannot be occupied, then you can find suitable accommodation until you can return. The insurance does provide coverage under the "additional living expense" section. You should contact the Adjuster to get permission if this is possible. Be sure to keep track of your hotel bill. Some of the daily food expenses will also be considered as part of the overall claim.

If you have had the foresight to do an inventory list, then you will find it much easier to put together an accurate list for the insurance company. It is a good idea to complete your inventory with photographs or video tape. These photographs or video tapes should be kept away from the house so as not to be damaged themselves in a fire. If you do not do these things, then your task will be more difficult. With perseverance, you should end up close to where you were just before the loss occurred. Unfortunately, it is likely you will see a deductible applied to the final accounting.

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