It’s been a while. Things have changed quite a bit and for the better. Maybe posting more soon.
Just in case anyone was wondering if my luck has improved, it hasn’t.
Obviously I still have a roof over my head and I’m eating, so I only have it so bad, but I’m getting a little tired of my stuff breaking. Especially things I need/use often and things that are expensive, considering I’m not making any money to replace or fix them.
In the last week, my wireless router decided to die and the windshield on the Rogue was hit by a rock and is now growing a substantial crack.
Luckily on the router, we still had Margaret’s old one. Still, could shit stop breaking please?
I decided to write up some notes on the things I’ve learned in the aftermath of my house being burglarized. I hope this might help you prepare for one of those crappy things that can happen to anyone.
I’ll get this out of the way first… With a slight tone of sarcasm, since I’ve heard this too many times in the past few weeks though it is still true, “at least no one was hurt”. I do realize this and I am grateful for that fact. All the same, I feel I came out behind even though I was insured and thought I was prepared. Anyway, on to my points.
Renters insurance -
GET IT!! No really get it. If you do not own your own place (have homeowners or equivalent) and are not explicitly covered by someone else’s policy (like your parents) get renters insurance. I mean it, for real, GET IT! My girlfriend’s renters policy covered all of her losses for a very minimal deductible and with far less hassle than my homeowners policy. It costs around $100-$150 a year for everyone I’ve talked to that has it. I don’t care who you get it from or how you pay for it, but it’s worth it. I actually wish I could’ve had renters insurance of my own in my own house on top of my homeowners, but that does not seem to be a valid option.
Receipts and documentation -
One of the most stressful parts of dealing with the insurance company was proving I owned the stuff that I said was stolen. The insurance company was looking for sales receipts for the items, instruction manuals, pictures of me with the items, accessories that belong with the items (like chargers or keys) and serial numbers.
There are a few things you can do to make this far easier to deal with. Most of this will be common sense, but be honest with yourself, do you actually do them? If so, great! If not, START! For any item that is valuable to you or that you think might look valuable to someone running through your house like it was the set of “Supermarket Sweep” do some combination of the following (preferably 2 of them):
Keep your receipts. Yeah it sounds simple, but you need to keep them organized so you can actually find them when you need them. This is by far the most conclusive and useful piece of proof you can have.
Write down or keep track of your serial numbers and keep them safe. Just having them in your laptop, which can get stolen is not good enough. Keep them online or printed out and kept somewhere safe.
Take pictures of your stuff with you in frame. This sounds silly, but hey, the insurance company will accept this as a form of proof and it’s pretty easy to do. Make sure you take shots of the items in a way that identifies them well.
If your things do get stolen, any accessories left behind can be used as proof. This applies to anything that has some accessory that goes to it. For example, I had a lock box that was stolen and the key was enough proof. This may not be widely applicable, but if you can store your belongings separate from their accessories, it could save you in a time of need.
Make sure your insurance policy makes sense for you -
This one is more for those that have homeowner policies, but might be applicable to renters as well. I don’t know about you, but as a first time home buyer all I knew is that I needed insurance. I went to my car insurance folks and said “hey, I need homeowner insurance”. They replied “well what kind of coverage do you want?” and I said “Uhh…”. I wound up with decent insurance that will covers me well in most cases, but things like deductibles and limits of coverage can really bite you when you least expect it.
As I understand it, your basic homeowners policy has a 1% deductible on just about any claim you make and burglary is no exception. That 1% is on the insured value of the home, not the current market value. What does that mean? Well, lets just say your house is insured for $100,000 to make it easy. That means your deductible is going to be $1,000.
Doesn’t sound so bad right? Until “Supermarket Sweep” makes a stop at your house to grab a few things, break some windows, and mess up some carpet. Then you’re possibly looking a scenario like the following (very similar to mine):
$1000 damage to home
+$1000 replacement value of your items
$2000 value of total loss (which your insurance company will pay)
-$1000 paid for home repairs
$0 to replace your stuff OUCH!
So, how do you make this less painful? Well most things on your policy are adjustable for a price. Insurance is a gamble after all, so any money you spend or save on your yearly premium may seem great or painful until something happens. Personally after this happened, I decided to pay a little extra to lower my burglary specific deductible. A 1% deductible may sound low, but it’s not fun to have a large out of pocket expense after an already bad experience. You have to decide for yourself what you feel comfortable about, but don’t go into it blind.
Some items may have a coverage limit such as jewelery, furs and cash. My girlfriend’s policy had a limit on jewelery which was $500 dollars, so if you have valuables which fall in these categories, you might want to improve you coverage for those items. In addition, you can add a rider to your insurance policy for specific items. This generally requires the items to be appraised and costs extra, but if they are that valuable, it’s probably worth it.
Understanding replacement value
I found this to be the most interesting and painful part of the whole process. So all that stuff that got stolen from your place, well the insurance company is going to replace that for you, right? Well, yes, but probably not how you would think.
Here is how it works for my insurance company with full replacement coverage, which I imagine is not all that different from any other. First they take your items, and they figure out how much the “equivalent replacement” is for that item today. Then they depreciate that amount based on how long you owned the item. This post-depreciation value is what they will hand over to you outright (but only the amount that exceeds your deductible). Only if you actually replace the items will they give you full replacement value.
For example, lets look at a laptop. Say the laptop is a few years old, but it was pretty nice when you bought it for $2000. When the laptop gets stolen, you first have to prove that you owned it. Then the insurance company will figure out the equivalent replacement value for it of, for example, $1000. The insurance company will then depreciate the laptop for the few years you owned it (yes, on top of the devaluing it during the equivalent replacement calculation) and come up with a value of $500. This is the amount they will just outright give you for your laptop. A quick review, you paid $2000 for it, they say you can buy the same thing (equivalent) now for $1000, then they also knock $500 off for being a few years old. Pretty painful, but here is where it gets a little brighter. If you actually replace the laptop, they will pay you the original $500 plus the equivalent replacement value which totals $1000. So, in this case, you have $1000 to replace your stolen $2000 laptop.
Basically they want you to actually replace your stuff and not take the money and run. Seems a little on the crappy side, since a loss is a loss, but there it is. I just found this process extremely interesting and figure someone else might find the information useful. The values set for my stolen property were seemingly random. The newer the item, the closer to the original value you will receive in the first payout. Older items can hurt a little more up front, but if you replace the item the depreciation value can make up some of the difference. I will say that the total equivalent replacement value is about %30 of what I paid for the stuff new.
Keep your hedges trimmed -
To homeowners, remember if you have any hedges in areas where you have windows, especially where neighbors can see, keep them trimmed. My shoppers came in through my front window in broad daylight, unnoticed, in part because my hedges covered up enough of the window for them to sneak in and out behind them.
Robbery pattern -
One thing I found interesting about the folks who took my stuff was that they definitely had a methodology to their grabbing. First off, they broke in broad daylight through a front window while I was away from the house for about an hour and a half. Aside from the room they came through the front window in, they only went to bedrooms, actually leaving behind some very easy to grab stuff in the living room and kitchen, which they had to walk through. This makes sense I suppose, but it’s something to think about. Even more interesting than that, once in the bedrooms they only went through the top drawers of the furniture. They of course got everything on top of the furniture that was in plain view, but they dumped out and/or went through every top drawer and only the top drawers.
So, these are the major lessons I learned as a result of the burglary. I hope you can put some of this knowledge to use. I hope it never happens to you, but if it does, be prepared.
For the first time since November 2004, my World of Warcraft account is not active. I just went to sign on and my last six month renewal finally ended. It was a great game and I’m happy to have played it with friends, but it just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I just haven’t really played in a long time (barring down time at Christmas) and haven’t had the desire too. An end of an era of sorts…
So now I’m trying to play catchup with all the other games I missed out on while stuck in WoW.
Merry Christmas Ya’ll! Have a good one and be safe and stuff.
This past Sunday made a year that Margaret and I have been together. Yay us!
I love you babe!