A sad story, and lesson to all [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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06-01-2004, 05:33 AM
Last week my good friend's house burned to the ground along with pretty much everything in it. Amazingly enough, he and his wife, new baby, and dog were all unscathed.
The sad news is that his absolutely incredible $15000 dollar home theater is absolutely destroyed. Bye, bye, beautiful Krell, Martin Logan gear, and Plasma TV.

He was smart enough to purchase insurance for it, but he's now involved in a rather complicated battle with the insurance company. Apparently they want proof that he actually owned the equipment that he insured. Previously they asked for no receipts or pictures, and just took his insurance premium money, with the $15000 reflected in these payments. Now, when a claim is being collected, it appears that the insurance company's adjusters are far less client friendly. Tough business, I can understand why.

Of course I'm biased here, but doesn't it make sense that if they were going to take your money in insurance premiums for a home theater, that they'd demand proof that you actually owned the home theater before the first payment? And not after a several years worth of charging you premiums without question? But I rant...Hopefully his lawyer is better than theirs.

His advice to me, which I thought I'd share to all, was to keep every receipt for every item, and take either digital or regular photo's of all your household items, and keep them in a safety deposit box that could withstand a fire. Apparently that's what the insurance company suggested he "should have done". He suggests using a safety box at a bank but you can buy "black boxes" or whatever.

I'm sure this has come up before...someone should start a poll here about how many of us actually insure our gear...

06-01-2004, 05:55 AM
Yes, I agree with you. Pictures of the gear and receipts are an essential part of the game, particularly when you are dealing with high end gear whose value far outways the "suggested value" of a typical music or home theatre system that appears in the glossy insurance brouchure when they are trying to sign you up.

My insurance company suggests a value of $700 for a stereo system. Obviously, their idea of a "stereo" is a small all-in-one micro system such as would be obtained in a discount department store.

The other problem owners of serious gear face, is that when you try and explain the true value of a great system to an insurance person (it's often over the phone), there is a blank uncomprehending silence - they can't believe that such equipment exists, or that it could be worth that much, or that people would even be interested in owning it.

We are alone in this huge world, with only each other to support us.

Take the pics and keep the receipts. Somewhere safe. Do it now!

Resident Loser
06-01-2004, 06:39 AM
...They have no problem takin' your premiums but when it comes to claims, well you know the drill...

Now, I'm no insurance expert, but I do have some questions...was there actually a separate policy or at least a specific rider to his homeowners' insurance? Or was it some assumption based on verbal assurances from his broker? Such additional coverage usually requires prior documentation, as I recall. You have to keep in mind brokers are nothing but salesmen and should be treated with all due skepticism reserved for the breed...there is really nothing "special" to them, they sell "product" and get commisions...

Perhaps they can get some documentation from their dealer or the equipment manufacturers...and even that will probably not be enough. Then, of course, depreciation will have to be taken into account as the insurance company will most certainly do so...

Also, generally speaking, it was advised at one time to engrave your social security number and city on your gear in case of theft...additionally, receipts and photos for that level of expense should be with documents such as a deed, and kept in a safety deposit box...

Looked into it myself, with the premiums, deductibles and depreciation it just didn't seem worth it, even tho' my two channel rig was worth about $5k when new...and that was quite a while back...

jimHJJ(...it's a hard lesson to learn...)

06-01-2004, 07:20 AM
In this particular case, a document was sent to the insurance provider with a detailed list of each item, and the corresponding value, along with most other household items (furniture, collectibles, etc) and a total value was arrived at. The insurance policy, and premiums, were based on coverage for this total amount, without prior question.
He has been faxed a copy of this same document, which lucky for him, was exactly as he remembered it. I've seen it. It looks straight forward. They've even reviewed the policy and raised the premiums (no surprise there) since the coverage began.
The only time they ever visited him was to inspect his fireplace. That met their approval (and was not the cause of the fire BTW) and the policy was in place.
Their contention is that the policy does provide such said amount of coverage, but now they just want proof that the items did in fact exist, were that expensive, and that he truly needs the full claim value. Rather insulting really.
Ever get body-work done on your car? We often have battles with insurance companies that want to use junk-yard parts instead of original equipment. Man, I hate insurance companies.
His lawyer says that their acceptance payment and revised premium increases puts them on the hook for everything, and that he doesn't have to worry. He thinks they're just trying to low-ball the first claim amount to save some cash.
I hope he's right.

06-01-2004, 11:48 AM
That happened to me once, long time ago.

Since the equipment was burnt and not stolen, all that I had to do was show them the remaining pieces.

piece-it pete
06-01-2004, 12:43 PM
I've been told that the best way to prepare for something like this is to videotape your stuff AT LEAST once a year. Walk through the house & describe the items as you tape, value, anything special about it, etc, and leave the tape at your work or other families house.


06-01-2004, 01:11 PM
anyone know the cost of premiums of lets say, $5000 stuff?

06-02-2004, 11:58 AM
for expensive stuff get a "rider" on your policy which specifically names the equipment & value. Keep receipts. Take photos too. For high ticket items they may send an appraiser by to check it out. To an insurance company a stereo may be valued and depreciated for $500 or $700 or whatever. "Riders" are very cheap to add to your homeowners or renters insurance for something of MORE than normal value.

Insurance companies are eager and happy to take your premiums, but can be somewhat stodgy at paying out and will be skeptical. They are the victims of schemes and frauds everyday.