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   To leave the inventory sheet or not?
P:  10/20/2006 7:48:43 PM
ebrooks

Member

Total Posts: 145
Last Post: 11/5/2007
Member Since: 3/18/2006

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."

E Brooks


View Revisions : 1   |    Posted:  10/20/2006 7:48:43 PM   |   IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post


 There are 9 replies to this message.  There are 9 replies on this page.

P: 10/26/2006 12:03:43 AM
Czar

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Total Posts: 4
Last Post: 1/13/2007
Member Since: 10/25/2006

I am the adjuster who had posted the repsonse on the other site that you have mentioned.  I would agree, in a perfect world an adjusters would not just leave inventory sheets with an insured where they can become a wish list.  However, this is not a perfect world and many times this is the only option.  I do however make sure that I take plenty of photos of every room, closet, basement, which is something that I did not post in my response on the other site.  In the days of 35 MM, this could not be done.  With the digital age, hundreds of photos for one loss can be obtained and kept for future review.  Now if a carrier wants a physical inventory completed by me, I will kindly do and bill accordingly. 

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  10/26/2006 12:03:43 AM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 10/26/2006 7:17:31 AM
ebrooks

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Total Posts: 145
Last Post: 11/5/2007
Member Since: 3/18/2006

"Now if a carrier wants a physical inventory completed by me, I will kindly do and bill accordingly. "

This is where IA and staff work tend to part ways. The staff employer who is paying a fixed salary has everything to gain (assuming overtime is not an issue), by setting "file standards" that include all sorts of heroic efforts by the adjuster on every file. This, along with a high volume of claims (determined by the carrier’s intentional understaffing), is why as a staff adjuster I never had a hour to spare.

 
This is where those carriers I referred to who have a policy of never leaving the inventory sheet with the insured come from.

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  10/26/2006 7:17:31 AM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 10/31/2006 4:32:58 PM
dkennedy

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Total Posts: 7
Last Post: 12/12/2006
Member Since: 10/30/2006

My boss had a similar idea.  He wants to purchase a camcorder to do the same thing.  The problem is that corporate doesn't want to spend $500 even though it would likely save us $10,000 a year or more.  Go figure.

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  10/31/2006 4:32:58 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 11/7/2006 6:42:15 PM
rpetty

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Total Posts: 51
Last Post: 10/2/2009
Member Since: 9/14/2006

I always did my own walk thrus and also recorded the contents loss with the insured present. However, there were times when I left an inventory for unusual circumstances, like the avid book reader who had rwo rooms full of books (like my wife). But overall, I prefer to do my own inspections.

 

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  11/7/2006 6:42:15 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 5/31/2010 8:36:25 PM
digitory

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Total Posts: 21
Last Post: 12/20/2011
Member Since: 5/27/2010

Do you all conduct your own onsite inventory?

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  5/31/2010 8:36:25 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 5/31/2010 11:22:20 PM
Kevin Hromas

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Total Posts: 79
Last Post: 12/15/2010
Member Since: 10/18/2007

Depending on the size of the loss, I may leave inventory forms with an Insured with instructions on how to complete them ... and also with the understanding that I will return to the loss site and go over the list with them as I photo each individual item. I also make it clear that nothing is to be disposed of prior to that time. Then I can photograph the items in a systematic order and cross-reference with their list.

This serves a two-fold purpose: First, it lets them take some time to prepare their presentation of the loss without feeling pressured in the moment. Second, it an effecient use of both my time and theirs. If the loss is large, it is doubtful that they will be staying at the home and it may take them multiple trips as this process can be emotionally draining.
 
I can still hear the Insured crying as she walked room to room in their home that had 7' of flood water after Katrina there in Mississippi. I was on the roof measuring it and it broke my heart knowing what she was going through. Some times we have to take all the circumstances into consideration and adjust the process accordingly.
 
A total loss is a completely different animal and might literally take weeks to finalize a contents claim. In those situations, I might suggest that they obtain copies of family photos that other distant members may have and try to re-construct their list from those photos.
 
Kevin Hromas - JD, RPA, PLCS, WIND Umpire
EGA - Houston, TX

Kevin Hromas - JD,EGA,RPA,PLCS,WIND Umpire
Houston, TX

www.KevinHromas.com

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  5/31/2010 11:22:20 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 6/1/2010 11:11:31 PM
William S Cook

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Total Posts: 67
Last Post: 11/17/2013
Member Since: 11/1/2006

I provide the insureds  with an excel spread sheet for contents to enter items and the necessary and required rows for area, date purchased, where purchased and replacement or repair cost.

That computer spread sheet allows the insured the opportunity to revise, expand or contact  the spread sheet as needed to reflect the actual loss.
William S Cook
Public Adjuster

William S Cook Public Adjuster Licensed PA in several states

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  6/1/2010 11:11:31 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 6/2/2010 8:28:03 PM
digitory

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Total Posts: 21
Last Post: 12/20/2011
Member Since: 5/27/2010

Wil & lkhromas, that is a good method...but what do you do when the insured is not computer literate? Also, I deal with insureds who are often an emotional reck...any problems in that regard?

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  6/2/2010 8:28:03 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post
P: 6/2/2010 11:05:25 PM
Kevin Hromas

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Total Posts: 79
Last Post: 12/15/2010
Member Since: 10/18/2007

Digitory ... (My name is Kevin Hromas ... not lkhromas ... and I sign every post I make.)

As I stated above -
 
Some times we have to take all the circumstances into consideration and adjust the process accordingly.
 
Not sure if your are an adjuster or a vendor, but the basic premise of the insurance contract is that the Insured is required to prove their loss. As adjusters, we are tasked with the responsibiltiy of assisting them as much as possible to accurately present that claim but the responsibility requirement does not change that standard. Most of us will use our experience in these matters to provide direction that is appropriate for the circumstances that an insured may be in.
 
Ultimately, the Insured themselves may be the only one's who truly know the full extent of their contents loss. My level of experience may lead me to question the full extent of someone's loss because there may other evidence to contradict their list. Generally these situations will only apply in losses where the item is completely destroyed or no longer present.
 
Kevin Hromas - JD, RPA, PLCS, WIND Umpire
EGA - Houston, TX

Kevin Hromas - JD,EGA,RPA,PLCS,WIND Umpire
Houston, TX

www.KevinHromas.com

Revisions : 0   |    Posted:  6/2/2010 11:05:25 PM    |    IP:  Recorded    |    Report this post

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