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Coping with the Unthinkable: A Comprehensive Guide on What to Do When You Return from Vacation to a Burglarized Home and Filing an Insurance Claim

Returning from a relaxing or holiday vacation to discover that your home has been broken into is a distressing and disorienting experience. Amidst the emotional upheaval, it's crucial to take swift and methodical actions, including filing an insurance claim, to address the aftermath of a burglary. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through a step-by-step process on what to do when you find your home has been broken into after a vacation. Additionally, we'll delve into the intricacies of filing an insurance claim to help you navigate this challenging situation with resilience and practicality.

Part 1: Immediate Actions Upon Discovery

1. Prioritize Safety:

  • Before entering your home, ensure your safety by assessing if the burglar is still present or if there are signs of ongoing danger. If you have any suspicions, do not enter the premises and call law enforcement immediately.

2. Do Not Touch Anything:

  • Resist the urge to touch or move anything within the property. Preserving the crime scene is essential for law enforcement investigations, and your cooperation can aid in the collection of evidence.

3. Exit Safely:

  • If you find yourself inside the home and suspect the burglar might still be present, leave immediately and go to a safe location. Once you are in a secure place, contact law enforcement.

4. Call the Police:

  • Contact your local police department as soon as you are in a safe location. Provide them with all pertinent details, such as your location, a description of what you observed, and any suspicious activities you noticed.

5. Avoid Disturbing Evidence:

  • Refrain from cleaning or attempting to repair any damages until law enforcement has conducted a thorough investigation. Your insurance company may require evidence to process your claim, and tampering with the scene could compromise their ability to assess the situation accurately.

Part 2: Documenting the Damage and Losses

1. Create a Detailed Inventory:

  • Document the stolen or damaged items by creating a comprehensive inventory. Include details such as descriptions, values, purchase dates, and any relevant serial numbers. This information will be invaluable when filing an insurance claim.

2. Photograph and Videotape:

  • Capture visual evidence of the damages and the state of your home. Take photographs or videos to provide a clear representation of the extent of the burglary. This documentation will serve as essential supporting evidence during the claims process.

3. Secure Copies of Police Reports:

  • Obtain copies of the police reports filed after the break-in. These reports are crucial when filing an insurance claim, serving as official documentation of the incident.

4. Gather Receipts and Appraisals:

  • If available, collect receipts, invoices, or appraisals for high-value items stolen or damaged during the burglary. These documents will aid in establishing the value of the lost or damaged property.

5. Witness Statements:

  • If there were witnesses to the burglary, collect their statements and contact information. Witness accounts can provide additional perspectives and strengthen your claim.

Part 3: Contacting Your Insurance Company

1. Notify Your Insurance Company Promptly:

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the burglary. Provide them with a detailed account of the incident, referencing your inventory, photographs, and police reports.

2. Understand Your Policy Coverage:

  • Review your homeowners insurance policy to understand the coverage limits, deductibles, and any specific requirements related to burglary claims. Familiarizing yourself with your policy will help you navigate the claims process more effectively.

3. Schedule an Adjuster Visit:

  • Request a visit from an insurance adjuster to assess the damages and losses. Cooperate fully during their inspection, providing the necessary documentation and answering any questions they may have.

4. Discuss Temporary Living Arrangements:

  • If your home is uninhabitable due to the burglary, discuss temporary living arrangements with your insurance company. Coverage for additional living expenses (ALE) may be available to help with costs such as accommodation, meals, and transportation.

5. File a Detailed Claim:

  • Submit a detailed and accurate claim to your insurance company. Include all relevant information, such as the police reports, inventory, photographs, and any other documentation that supports your claim.

Part 4: Post-Claim Process and Moving Forward

1. Cooperate with the Investigation:

  • Work closely with your insurance company and law enforcement throughout the investigation. Provide any additional information or documentation they may request promptly.

2. Review the Claim Settlement:

  • Once your claim is processed, carefully review the settlement offered by your insurance company. If you have any concerns or discrepancies, address them with your insurance adjuster.

3. Secure Your Home:

  • Take steps to secure your home to prevent future break-ins. Enhance security measures, such as installing alarm systems, reinforced doors and windows, and outdoor lighting. Consult with your insurance company to inquire about potential discounts for implementing additional security measures.

4. Seek Emotional Support:

  • Experiencing a burglary can be emotionally challenging. Seek support from friends, family, or professionals who can provide guidance and assistance during the recovery process.

5. Update and Upgrade Security Measures:

  • Consider updating and upgrading your home's security features. This may include installing security cameras, reinforcing entry points, and implementing smart home security systems. Consult with your insurance company to understand how these improvements may impact your coverage.

6. Review and Update Home Inventory:

  • Periodically review and update your home inventory. This ensures that your records are current and accurate, making the claims process more efficient in the future.

7. Consider Counseling or Therapy:

  • If the burglary has left you emotionally distressed, consider seeking counseling or therapy. Professional support can help you cope with the psychological impact of the incident.

Experiencing a home burglary upon returning from vacation is undoubtedly traumatic. However, taking systematic and well-informed steps can help you navigate the aftermath with resilience. From prioritizing safety and documenting damages to filing a comprehensive insurance claim, this guide provides a roadmap to guide you through the process. By working closely with law enforcement and your insurance company, you can take significant strides towards recovering from the incident and fortifying your home against future risks. Remember, while the material losses are significant, your safety and well-being remain the top priorities in the aftermath of a burglary.

At the Voss Law Firm we strive to help you get back to normal as fast as possible after an insurance denial or “low ball” offer. If you feel you have been unfairly treated by your insurance company, please call (888) 296-1986, input your information for a Free Claim Review or chat with us today.

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