Theft claims: Are your valuables properly insured?

We see it often in the insurance industry. A family is the victim of a break and enter and it isn’t until they begin the claims process that they realize they’ve under-insured themselves for just such a loss.

At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSRs will take the time to review your current homeowners policy and make sure  you understand completely what is covered and what is not, that you’re comfortable with your deductibles, that your limits are appropriate, and that you’re making your decisions with complete information.

While the number of home break-ins across the province have dropped in the last 10 years, the value of individual theft claims has risen dramatically. Other aspects remain the same, like the fact theft claims always increase dramatically over the summer months. In general, that’s because it’s more likely families are away on day trips or extended vacations and leave their homes vacant.

According to industry experts, the popularity of expensive electronic devices has also driven up the value of most theft claims. These small, valuable items can be easily removed from the home and sold quickly for cash, more than items like big screen TVs. Often, people also underestimate the value of the goods they accumulate over the years, so it’s prudent to update an inventory of valuable items and make any necessary adjustments to your policy to ensure you have the proper coverage.

Your grandmother’s gold jewelry or other family heirlooms may be worth more than you realize, and while you can add a policy rider to cover these items for their actual value, a “normal” household policy will have a cap on jewelry claims that can range from $2,000 to $6,000. Deductibles generally range between $500 and $2,500 on most homeowner’s policies. And while some people choose a higher deductible to reduce their premiums, it does translate to more out of pocket expense if they have to make a claim.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests most policies offer enough theft coverage for the average family, since thefts are not as costly as water and fire damage. Under 10 percent of insurance claims are for stolen property while water damage accounts for nearly 50 percent, followed by fire at 20 percent.

But like most things, whether its prevention measures or navigating a claim, preparation is key.

Maintaining a catalogue of your possessions will make it easier if you ever have to file a claim. Going through that process will also provide the opportunity to realize the proper value of many items, and ensure you’re comfortable with the level of protection your policy provides.

But if you truly want to avoid having to make such a claim in the first place, taking steps to prevent theft can be fairly simple.

The most common way thieves enter a home is through an unlocked window or door. As well, thieves look for homes that appear to be unoccupied, so you should avoid leaving an impression that you’re not home. Make arrangements during vacations so newspapers and mail doesn’t collect in the driveway; ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway and use timers for indoor and outdoor lights.

More and more social media has turned into a virtual shopping list of potential targets for thieves. Posting vacation photos while still on vacation lets people know you aren’t home, especially if your social media friends do not have tight privacy settings.

A few simple rules to help prevent theft:

  • Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspapers, keep your sidewalk and driveway clear, and park his or her car in your driveway. You can also request that mail deliveries be stopped or re-routed to a different address until you return.
  • Consider light switch timers, especially multiple timers on a random setting. They are inexpensive and make your home appear lived in.
  • Installing a home security system and outdoor motion detectors may deter burglars from targeting your home.
  • Inspect your home before you leave. Put away bicycles and gardening or snow removal equipment, and be sure to lock your shed. Closely trim trees and shrubs to keep your house in plain view.
  • If loading luggage into your car, do so in your garage if possible, so you don’t alert potential thieves you are leaving.
  • Leave curtains and/or blinds as you would normally keep them while at home but be sure to store any jewelry, valuables and important paperwork out of sight or in a home safe or bank safety deposit box. Noticeable changes in your home’s typical appearance may hint that you are away.
  • Don’t announce your vacation plans in casual conversations, in emails or on social networking sites.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your existing homeowner’s policy, the brokers and CSRs at any one of DPM Insurance Group’s six offices would be pleased to offer you a no cost, no obligation policy review and quote. Your security – Our responsibility.

Blenheim Office

24 Marlborough St. N., Box 479
Blenheim, ON N0P1A0

Phone: 519-676-8159
Fax: 519-676-0020

Chatham Office

250 St. Clair St.
Chatham, ON N7L 3J9

Phone: 519-352-4343
Toll Free: 1-800-561-4949
Fax: 519-352-6484

Essex Office

29 Talbot St. N, Box 69
Essex, ON N8M 2Y1

Phone: 519-776-6457
Fax: 519-776-7400

Harrow Office

65 King St. W., Box 790
Harrow, ON N0R 1G0

Phone: 519-738-2277
Fax: 519-738-2279

Tilbury Office

59 Mill St. E, Box 1239
Tilbury, ON N0P 2L0

Phone: 519-682-0202
Fax: 519-682-2391

Wallaceburg Office

403 Wellington St.
Wallaceburg, ON N8A 2Y2

Phone: 519-627-1777