Tips for Disaster Survivors

Completing your personal property inventory is hard, but when it comes to antiques or collectibles, it can be time consuming and sometimes close to impossible. The bottom line is, there is someone out there who knows what your stuff would’ve been worth. Think Antiques Road Show. Of course, the problem is finding them. The other day while browsing the internet, I found the following websites.

I have not used this site myself, so use at your own risk. They seem to have many services including creating an appraisal just for you or a pass to unlock their database and browse. 

Here’s another website for collectables:

PASADENA, Calif. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making sure that eligible residents of Oakridge Mobile Home Park have temporary housing while they wait for the park to reopen.

We remind 2007 wildfire survivors, with over a year passing since their fire losses and often distracted by other recovery issues, to not forget additional settlement money that may remain within their policy coverages that they did not initially receive—unpaid depreciated funds or “hold back”.

For example, a homeowner with $150,000 in personal property coverage may have submitted an inventory of $200,000. The insurance company depreciated the value of all reported items and only paid $130,000. The homeowner has $20,000 of personal property coverage remaining within the policy coverage.What can be done to claim the additional unpaid settlement funds? 

  1. Continue writing and submitting the personal property list:
    1. Include all the little, inexpensive items.  It all adds up and small necessities often are the first things replaced (and first things forgotten), so the adjuster should give its full value up front. Think of that first trip to the mega-mart, made right after the fire. Buying all new toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorants, razors, and other toiletries creates a large bill all by themselves.
    2. Spend some time and itemize areas that were grouped together or categorized. For example, if you claimed a group of items using a lump sum price - like a tool box, a sewing box, or gardening items - break the category down and itemize to determine their full value, including the cost of the tool box. Based on our experience with disasters, you will be amazed and the full cost!
  2. Claim withheld depreciation. For instance, you claimed a $2,000 couch and the insurance company paid only $1000 as the depreciated amount. You then bought a “like-kind and quality” couch at a cost of $2,100 (don't forget tax and delivery). Send the receipt to the insurance company and claim payment for the “hold back”—an additional $1100. Do this on an item by item basis.
  3. Negotiate any item that was excessively depreciated. In the above example, the couch was depreciated 50%—an unusually high depreciation. Depreciation, based on the wear and tear or physical condition, is always negotiable. Only you know the actual condition at the time of loss. Negotiate a reduced depreciated amount if the item has been excessively depreciated. For example, if you just purchased the couch or the item was rarely used and was in excellent condition or the item was an antique or a collectible. We have seen many items which were overly depreciated by the arbitrary judgment of the adjuster or the technical application of a computer. Remember, only you know the condition of an item, not an “in house” chart or a computer.

In summation, do not leave any unpaid coverages on the table if your loss exceeds the amounts paid or policy limits. You deserve full payment of your loss within policy limits!

Inspirational Quotes

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.

From The Hobbit by  J.R.R. Tolken


Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and being so supportive. I do not know how things with [our insurance company] will end, but I know I am prepared as best I can be because of you.

Slide Fire Survivor, 2007