Somebody Broke Into or Vandalized My Home – What Do I Do?
Somebody Purposely Damaged Your Home or Stole Your Stuff:
You come home to find that someone has broken in, stolen your valuables and/or vandalized your home. Theft and vandalism are covered under most home insurance policies. In most cases, there are dollar limits.
If you think that that the burglars/vandals might still be in the house or nearby, go somewhere safe (maybe your car or a neighbour’s house), and call 911. Wait for police to arrive before entering the home.
If it’s clear that the perpetrators are long-gone, you can enter the home, but remember that this is now a crime scene. Don’t touch anything until police arrive.
What You Should Do:
After you’ve ensured your safety and called police, take pictures of what the house looked like when you first discovered that there was a problem. Broken windows, damaged doors, ransacked drawers etc.
Take stock of what was taken and how much it is worth. Calculate depreciation. Add any damage that was done. Estimate costs to replace broken windows, doors etc. Based on the calculation and the amount of your deductible, decide whether you want to make a claim or absorb the cost yourself.
If it makes sense to do so, call your home insurer to start a claim.
Gather as much documentation as possible to support your claim. If you have receipts and/or pictures of the lost or damaged items, great! Your insurer will let you know what documentation they require and when.
Should I Make a Claim?
Unlike car insurance, which has strict government-mandated rules about how much insurers can charge and what criteria they can use to determine your premiums, home insurance is sold in more of a traditional free market system. In practical terms, that means that your insurance company will be more likely to increase your premiums if you make frequent claims, regardless of whether they are your fault.
It’s very rare that an insurer would increase your premiums dramatically for a single claim, but if you do make a claim, you want it to be worth your while. Especially if you’ve already made a claim in the last 5 years, if you suffer a loss, before you call your insurer, calculate roughly how much the claim would be, minus your deductible. If the amount is something you can afford to pay yourself, it may be worthwhile to avoid the claim. Otherwise, it’s possible you could find yourself paying it all back and then some in premiums over the next few years.