Updated: October 2016
It can be pretty unsettling to come home and find that your place has been ransacked by a burglar. And while the incident may come as a shock, you are, in fact, not alone in your troubles. There were more than 1.1 million residential burglaries across the United States in 2014, according to the FBI
, and the average loss was $2,251.
Would you know what to do if your home was damaged or your stuff was stolen in a burglary? Here are some tips to consider, and an overview of what to expect when filing an insurance claim.
Start by reporting the burglary to police, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says. You'll also want to promptly get in touch with your insurance agent because, according to the III, many insurance providers place a time limit on how long you can wait to file a claim.
The good news is homeowners insurance typically includes coverage for damage to your home and theft of your possessions from a break-in, according to the III. Check your own insurance policy to see what's covered and how much coverage it provides.
To get the claim going, it's a good idea to document any property damage with photos or video and prepare a list of the stolen items (along with receipts), the III says. If you already have a home inventory, it may expedite this process.
You'll also want to make any emergency repairs that will help protect your home from further damage, the III says. For instance, you may want to replace broken window panes or door locks that were damaged during the break-in. Be sure to save your receipts, the III says, because those expenses may be reimbursed by your insurance provider.
As for how much you can expect to recoup, well, that depends on your particular policy.
When it comes to property damage, most policies help pay to repair or replace burglary damage with same-quality materials.
Your personal property might be different. If you have "replacement cost" coverage for your belongings, your insurer will likely value a stolen item at the cost it would take to repurchase it at today's prices, the III says. But if you have "actual cash value" coverage, your insurer will likely deduct for depreciation, paying only what the stolen item would sell for today, not the cost to buy a new one.
Regardless, most policies typically only cover a claim up to a specific amount — what's known as a limit. Odds are, the property damage you suffered won't reach the policy limit you have on your home, because it may be as high as the amount required to rebuild the structure.
But personal property limits can be different. Most policies provide coverage for your possessions at about 50 to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on your home, according to the III. However, certain types of property, like jewelry or silverware, will likely have their own lower limits. For instance, jewelry coverage might be capped at $1,000 or $2,000, the III says. Your insurance agent can help you understand the limits on your coverages.
Keep in mind, you'll typically have to pay your deductible before your insurance kicks in to help cover the loss. One exception is if you've purchased scheduled personal property coverage to increase your coverage limits on certain high-value items. You'll usually find that you won't need to pay a deductible before your insurer pays for the loss of a scheduled item.
You probably never expect to be the victim of a burglary, but if you are, knowing what to expect from your insurance afterward can be a good first step to putting the pieces back together afterward.