I suffered a total loss of two structures and all contents within each in a 2020 California wildfire. I have been working on my contents inventory for months. My insurer has promoted the idea of using a third-party firm that can create a contents inventory listing and valuation with my input. Is such a service likely to produce an accurate contents inventory and associated value list? Has anyone reading this used such a service and if so, were you satisfied with the result? My structures were loaded with antiques.
We didn’t learn of anyone who is using a third-party service to create an inventory, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Your insurer is likely suggesting this service to assist you since you lost two structures. Make sure that, if you do accept this offer, the insurer doesn’t deduct any fees from your contents claim to pay the third party. You can ask your insurer about any possible fees and how this is handled. A public adjuster can also assist with your inventory, but keep in mind they will charge a percentage of the amount recovered from your claim (see also Public Adjusters – The Inside Scoop).
You can consult with a reputable antiques dealer to make sure you’re getting the full value of your property, and be sure to make corrections if you notice something is improperly depreciated. Some survivors in California have used https://antiquesociety.com/ to get appropriate valuations for what they lost. You might also want to watch our recent webinar, Contents Intensive and Collecting Depreciation for detailed information on how to submit your inventory and manage depreciation.