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Theft can happen almost anywhere. The unthinkable happens: you come home to discover graffiti, smashed windows, broken door locks, or valuables gone missing. It is a terrifying reality that your home or business can be broken into at any time, resulting in extensive property damage and missing valuable possessions.

To make matters worse, many times when homeowners file a claim for this type of loss, the insurance company refused to tender insurance proceeds for your losses and home repairs.  What happens then?

What is Theft? How Do I Know if My Property Has Been Vandalized? 

The exact definition of theft varies from state to state. But, in general, theft is taking an object without consent of the owner with the intent to never return it. Theft is divided into two categories, petty and grand theft, and varies depending on the value of the stolen property. 

Vandalism is defined as the destruction or damage of private or public property with malicious intent. It is important to note the intent aspect of vandalism. Accidental damage is not considered vandalism, but may be classified as property damage and therefore might also be covered under homeowner’s insurance. If a homeowner deliberately damages his or her own property, it most likely will not be covered by insurance.

Property Insurance 101: Provide Proof of Ownership

Because theft is defined by possession, insurance companies may require proof of ownership. You can go a long way to recouping your losses by keeping and providing a record of possession for your valuables. Save receipts and bills of sale. Register your valuables. Similar to how states already require the registration of cars, you should consider registering bicycles and other vehicles with local police, city, state, or national registries.

Another way to ensure that you have everything you need to make a claim for damage or theft is to make a video record of your home now, in its pre-loss state. Make sure to systematically go through each room, documenting valuables and items that cannot be replaced. Keep the video record somewhere safe, preferably in the cloud, so it can be accessed anytime. 

When You Suffer a Loss

Obtain a Police Report

If you are the victim of theft or vandalism, immediately report it to the police. If you happen to witness theft or vandalism in progress, call 911. Otherwise, call the non-emergency number or file a police report online. While waiting for the police to investigate, do not touch the scene of the crime or tamper with/remove any potential evidence.

After the investigation, if the police do not automatically provide a copy of your police report, call the department and ask for it. Most insurance companies will not honor claims that go unreported to the police or for which there is no report, as this brings into question the validity of the loss.

What Does Homeowner’s or Property Insurance Cover?

Every insurance policy is different, but almost every homeowner’s policy covers theft and vandalism. Some insurance companies have a list of specific valuables that are covered against theft or vandalism. It is best to check your insurance policy to check on the specific limits of your coverage.

How Do I Get Insurance to Pay?

The very best way to receive insurance proceeds for your claim is to provide proof of ownership, a timely police report, and promptly file a claim. If you’ve been the victim of theft or vandalism and the insurance company refuses to issue payment on your covered loss, contact an attorney’s office for a free consultation.

If the insurance company still refuses to pay or acknowledge a claim, it’s time to seek legal help. In the case of a win or settlement, it’s the insurance company that usually pays the attorney fees or costs. The experienced team at Pazos Law Group can help! You won’t pay anything until we get a settlement in your case. Call us at (954) 951-2405 or fill out the contact form below to get started.

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