Contents insurance — if it isn’t snapped, it isn’t a cinch

You’ve got contents insurance, so you’re all sorted – right? Well perhaps, and perhaps not. The question is, can you prove that you own the items you have covered in your policy and are Cameraclaiming for?

It’s easy when you have accidental damage, like your mobile phone slipping out of your pocket and into the toilet (a claim far more common than you would think). You still have the phone – unworkable – but it is physically there. However, what happens when a burglar comes into your home and takes your stuff is a bit more complicated.

We recently had somebody break into our house, while  we were asleep. We woke up the next morning to find the front door open and my car gone (with my sunglasses in it). Theft of your car is easy to prove, but my sunglasses would be difficult. You may know they were in the car, but how does the insurance company know for sure that you’re not trying to rip them off for a pair of sunglasses you’ve never owned?

Fortunately I had a photograph of my sunglasses, and a receipt from recent repairs I had done to the lenses. Both items were sufficient proof of ownership — either one alone would suffice.

But, let me ask you, this do you know what type of TV you own? Make and model? Most people won’t know the answer.

You’ll have to know that information if you want to claim for it. At least have a photograph, the TV manual and even the remote that belongs to the television. The insurer will want to know when you bought it, how much it cost, was it new or used and what the replacement value is.

The same applies to items like jewellery and cameras. Ironically, claiming for stolen make-up is a bit easier because every insurer presumes that all women own and use cosmetics, but the same rules do not apply to your lawnmower.

My advice is to e.g. throw all your jewellery on the bed and take a photograph of it. Keep you receipts, repair invoices, warranties and manuals if you can. The easiest thing is to take a photograph and store it in your Gmail or some other safe offsite place – whether you email it to your Insurer/Adviser or save it in Dropbox.

As a footnote to the story of my sunglasses, it was those same sunglasses that were instrumental in catching the person who stole my car (it was classed as a home invasion because he broke in while we were in the house).

The police found my sunglasses in his house and it was enough to bring him to book for the car too. And we got the car back too!

The Home Owner’s Guide to Fire and General Insurance in New Zealand

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