Solutions for Risk Exposure®


Filing and Preparing a Contents Damage Claim

Specific guidance for preparing a contents claim

Follow my survival tips to reduce your stress.

Follow these tips if you have property damage or a business or commercial loss.

Organization is key! Use painters masking tape and a large marker to identify each damaged item with a unique, sequential number. Use that number to identify everything connected with that item: receipts, advertisements, items on spreadsheet lists, and photographs. If you have enough people, divide tasks: movers, numberers, list makers & photographers.

For assistance after a loss to your business, home or other property
Contact John Ruskin at the address or phone number, below.

John Ruskin is a Louisiana attorney and a licensed adjuster in multiple states.
Additional background on John Ruskin is available here.

There is no fee for an initial consultation.
  1. Mitigate your Damages

    Take steps to protect property from further damage -- whether it is damaged or undamaged.
    • Document your expenses and the steps you took.
  2. Segregate damaged from undamaged property

    • For example, place damaged property in your garage
    • As you move each individual thing, mark it with a number, write it down, takes its picture. Don't write on your things -- write on the masking tape!
    • Protect your damaged property from further damage.
  3. Make a list of your damaged contents

    Using a spreadsheet or paper, write down each thing as you move it; your insurer or adjuster may give you a form. Eventually you will include the following information on the line with each item -- if you don't know something, leave it blank, approximate if you can:
    # Count Description Purchase Price Purchase Date Age Replacement Cost per Item Total Replacement Cost Condition (E, VG, G, P) Repairable? (Y/N) Repair Cost
    • Its number -- use this number everywhere: on pictures, receipts, etc.
    • The count -- how many of each item there are
    • Your original purchase price, including tax and delivery
    • The date of your purchase, and in another column, how old it is -- remember, if you bought it used, it will be older
    • Current replacement cost, including tax and delivery, for each (one) item
    • The total replacement cost, including tax and delivery, for the count of items you show. Multiply the count times the replacement cost to get the total. Notice the difference between these two lines:
      CountDescriptionReplacement CostTotal Cost
      26 Widget set$60$120 This line looks at sets
      12Widgets$10$120 while this line is by the individual item
    • Its condition at the time of the loss
    • Whether it can be repaired, and in another column, at what cost
  4. Document current replacement cost of each item

    Document online or at retail stores, if the items are expensive or uncommon. Insurers may want this documentation if over a certain price.
    • Print out web pages, and save advertisements, showing current replacement costs. Write the item number on each piece of paper.
  5. Locate your original purchase receipts

    • This is more important as their expense increases.
    • Insurers may ask for purchase receipts if over some value.
  6. Photograph damaged property

    Confirm the expectations for photograph quality, quantity and format with your adjuster, insurance agent and insurer representatives. Take pictures of each damaged item:
    • As close to the time of loss as possible
    • Also take photos of each room, before you move things, showing the room contents in the place where they were damaged. Confirm with your insurer, adjuster and agent that you are going to move and segregate damaged property -- they may want to see the damaged property before it is moved
    • While you're at it, see if you have pictures of the items in your photo collection in their undamaged condition.
  7. Depreciation

    Whether or not you have replacement cost coverage in your insurance policy, the adjuster may calculate depreciation. More information on depreciation is available.
    • Depreciation is a reduction in value from the original or replacement cost - a reduction based on age, condition, and expected lifetime
    • Generally, the policy reduces the loss by that depreciation, and the insured is paid a total less depreciation
    • If you have replacement cost coverage, the insurer may only pay the reduced, depreciated value, until you actually replace the item.
    This is an example of one way to calculate depreciation:
    Age at time of loss (Years) Total Replacement Cost Expected Lifetime (Years) Condition (E, Avg, P) Depreciation Percent Calculated Depreciation Total Less Depreciation
    1 120 4 Avg 25% 30 90
  8. Review the adjuster's estimate

    When you receive your adjuster's contents adjustment, review it carefully, and discuss it with your adjuster.
For more information on how to prepare for an insurance claim, or assistance in the adjustment of insurance claims, please contact John Ruskin at the address or phone number, below.