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Personal Property Appraisals: When and How to Get Them

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2016 | Insurance Claims |

Our Fort Lauderdale insurance claim law firm frequently recommends that our clients create and maintain an inventory of personal or business property and retain receipts for the most significant items. In the event they lose property through storms, theft or other perils, these inventories go a long way toward helping ensure that they receive fair settlements from their insurers.

Still, not all personal property is automatically covered by property insurance. Some of the most prized possessions are subject to exclusions. While property owners can and should insure them under separate policies or riders to their standard policies, they need to enlist the help of reputable appraisers to assess their value before losses occur.

Types of Property to Appraise

Unless property owners retain professional appraisers to value their properties (including inventories held by businesses), insurance companies typically perform their own appraisals to determine values for standard policies. Whether you insure a personal residence or business, however, your property is likely to have certain items that policies typically exclude, such as:

  • Antiques
  • Fine and decorative art
  • Collectibles that can range from stamp and coin collections to fine wines

Without insurance that specifically covers items like these, property owners are restricted by the coverage limits provided for in standard policies. Just as you want to know how much money you have in the bank, you need to know the value of the items that represent a significant investment.

How Appraisals Work

Do not expect an insurance company to trust an appraisal based on online research. The American Society of Appraisers recommends choosing the services of an appraiser who is accredited after undergoing special training and proving competency through examinations and other evaluations.

Appraisers generally take pictures of objects and carefully examine the condition of each object. They may conduct extensive research that identifies an item’s value based on condition. This information also helps owners learn how to preserve value since they now recognize that removing the natural patina on an item can severely reduce its value.

Of course, values do not remain stagnant. In some cases, owners become aware of events that increase the values of their holdings, such as when an event destroys the majority of a specific stamp, causing it to become significantly rarer. In most cases, the passage of time can be enough to change an item’s value. A single, one-time appraisal may not be enough to protect a property owner’s interests throughout their lifetime. This is why it is important to seek periodic updates.

The ability to present convincing appraisals can make or break a claim in the event of loss of a personal item of significant value. However, insurance adjusters working to protect their company’s bottom line sometimes argue against appraised valuations to reduce the settlement value of a claim. Unless you are certain that a settlement offer is truly fair, call us at (954) 928-9568 or use our convenient online contact form to get a legal opinion.

Founding Partners Damaso W. Saavedra and Allyson D. Goodwin