I read a post recently on another site which went like this:
"supply the insured with content inventory sheets. Explain how to fill them out. Also sympathize with them and let them know that it will take a while to complete and to go room by room and try to remember what they had in each room. "
On the one hand, there is nothing basically wrong with this procedure.
On the other hand, I am reminded of the rule with certain carriers that you never leave an inventory sheet with the insured to fill out (for obvious reasons).
It all comes down I think to aggressive v. relatively passive/reactive claims handling. Again, the latter is not necessarily a bad idea--at least not if you are representing a high-priced carrier with an emphasis on service.
But if your goal is to bring the claim payment as closely in line with the actual loss as possible, you don't want to use the "leave an inventory sheet with the insured" approach. It is like a blank check.
I will give a real-life example:
I handled a less-than-total fire loss in rural Northern California involving a small residence in which the owner (a retired widow) died in the fire. She died of heat and/or smoke inhalation, perhaps coupled with an independent medical problem (heart attack?).
I met with one of her male adult children a week or so after the fire/death.
I inventoried the loss by walking through the rooms with a tape recorder, opening bureau/closet doors, and dictating a description of the contents. I had the tape transcribed at the office. I sent a copy to the insured survivor/agent.
Subsequently, I got a number of calls from either the agent or the heirs, complaining about the tight inventory I had created. It became clear that they would have liked to go much further into the contents limits than they were able to go after I had done the taped inventory.
But they were stuck with the actual eyeball inventory and contemporaneous tape documentatation. The loss settled on the basis of my inventory.
Complaints I heard were that the adult son that accompanied me on the walk-through was still in a state of grief when he met me (suggesting that this somehow reduced his claim).
But of course his state of grief had nothing to do with, need I repeat, the actual eyeball inventory. They just couldn't overcome it.
So the insured's heirs were left to complain about the cruel unfeeling carrier adjuster, but when you thought about it, their complaint boiled down to "we weren't allowed to inflate the inventory."