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The assurances of insurers
December 7, 2012 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Are we deluded to hope for any help from insurance for a two year-old theft just discovered?

Two years ago our mover, licensed and bonded, took something from us of little subjective value but, we later learned, of great personal value to him and/or to the relatives who were helping on the job. Soon after our move he went to prison for several offenses. Our state's criminal sexual offender's database says that he won't be released until sometime between 2047 and 2071. While he was moving us he himself told us of being accused of theft by a customer. He made it sound ridiculous at the time (ketchup and china wear) so we dismissed it until we couldn't find our bathroom organizer or any of its contents. We told him we wanted to file a claim on our insurance policy for those items so we could replace them. He said the amount was below his deductible so he paid it from his own pocket and no insurance claim was filed. I've been ill, which is why we hired him, was preparing for serious surgery and didn't have the time or physical ability to go through the items we triaged to the basement. We located any valuable items then assumed the bathroom thing was just something he'd needed and we were safe.

Then Hurricane Sandy happened and we remembered our meager efforts at preparedness in the big backpack we'd carefully put together before our move. It contained all our camping gear and some clothing along with copies of important documents and a USB backup drive. We've now confirmed that it, along with the rain jacket and umbrella that lived in the closet with it, are not here. We've contacted our insurance agent and he thinks that, because the release for the check the mover paid us contained a clause that said, essentially, "this is the extent of our claim," we have no recourse with his insurance company. He's a great agent and he knows his business better than we do, but it seems to us that since no claim with insurance was filed we might still have a chance? There may be a statute of limitations, but what about the fact that they were insuring a convicted felon? Does mover's waiver have anything to do with his insurance company? There was no mention of insurance on it.

Our agent has kindly offered to take a look at the release and, if we have no other option, to see what he can do through our own policy. We've not filed a single claim in the nearly thirty years we've had both renter's and auto policies with his office, but how much does the two-year delay hurt us? We have contacted the police so any other complaints of theft can be corroborated and corroborating. The core gear is from the late eighties but little-used and still hard to replace. I live for the outdoors, DH has even promised to take me camping when I get better. With our present means we wouldn't be able to replace it without insurance's help.
posted by Mertonian to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
You have nothing to lose by calling the insurance company and filing a claim.

You have a tough row to hoe on this though. In the intervening two years ANYONE could have taken your backpack.

I'd say your chances are nil. Besides, what is the actual value of the items taken? Not what it will cost to replace them, but what they were worth at the time of the loss? That's all you would be entitled to, even if it was determined that your mover was responsible.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:19 AM on December 7, 2012


Well, you don't KNOW that the mover took this stuff, right? It could have been stolen yesterday, or two years ago. File a police report if you haven't, and then call your insurance company.

You may also want to watch for potential identity theft if you had copies of ID documents in the lost item.
posted by Slinga at 6:21 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


of little subjective value but, we later learned, of great personal value to him and/or to the relatives who were helping on the job.
Can you explain? You're saying that it was not all that valuable, except to him and his relatives (how?), but in the end you imply it's pretty expensive stuff. Aren't you more concerned about the copies of documents and data on the thumb drive?

Regarding "statute of limitations" — in the two-year period that would not have expired yet. Some policies have a limitation period, some don't, but it's going to be longer than two years. Even if you weren't with that insurer anymore, if an insured loss comes to light long after the policy expiration, they are on the hook.

Ruthless Bunny: In the intervening two years ANYONE could have taken your backpack.
That's true, but it should not negate the claim. It's not up to Mertonian to prove the move took the backpack; just to document the fact that the backpack has been stolen, by someone, sometime during the last two years, and reported to the police as such.
posted by beagle at 6:24 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not really following this question or how this mover's being in jail has much of anything to do with your claim of theft from two years ago. How would you prove to your insurance company that this particular person stole something from you two years ago?
posted by dfriedman at 6:54 AM on December 7, 2012


Insurance doesn't reimburse sentiment, just economic losses. You will get a "ding" on your insurance record simply by making an inquiry in some cases, and definitely if you file a claim, so weigh that against the likelihood of success.
posted by wnissen at 7:17 AM on December 7, 2012


Sure, make a claim against your insurance. The whole rigmarole about sex offenders and movers makes no difference (and is difficult to follow). You have insurance to cover a loss. You have had a loss. I'm not sure why you now blame the mover--the backpack could (theoretically) have been stolen from your basement yesterday.

However, most policies require that you pay extra for "replacement value" coverage. If you did not buy it with your policy, I can't imagine you'll end up getting much for 30-year-old camping equipment--you'll get its depreciated value. I despair to imagine that your insurer is going to pony up a lot of a 30-year-old tent, or camping stove.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:40 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slinga, there has been no one else in our home these two years apart from two repairmen, and both times they remained in the kitchen with us. Sure, the landlord has a key, but we have a USB camera system that pings us whenever it sees motion outside. I don't know what others are thinking but the fact that he definitely took the item two years ago and paid for it and is in jail for the rest of his life makes it plausible to us that he took the pack.

Ruthless, if we have replacement value on our insurance wouldn't we be able to replace the most essential items?

wnissen, I don't believe I mentioned anything about sentimental value, then, I clearly can't write comprehensibly.
posted by Mertonian at 7:44 AM on December 7, 2012


Ruthless Bunny: In the intervening two years ANYONE could have taken your backpack.
That's true, but it should not negate the claim. It's not up to Mertonian to prove the move took the backpack; just to document the fact that the backpack has been stolen, by someone, sometime during the last two years, and reported to the police as such.



Ruthless, if we have replacement value on our insurance wouldn't we be able to replace the most essential items?


Well, let's clarify something. Are we claiming against the insurance we bought from the movers or are we claiming against our homeowner's insurance?

If we're claiming against OUR homeowner's insurance, and we have replacement value for our gear, then yes, minus the deductible, we can make a claim.

Now, is it worth it? How much is your deductible? How much will your rates go up for making the claim, and how much will it cost to replace what was lost?

It still may not make any sense to file a claim.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2012


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