You can file a renters insurance claim without receipts, but you should keep an up-to-date inventory of your personal belongings with photos and get an appraisal for big ticket items
How you get reimbursed depends on if you have an actual cash value policy or a replacement cost policy. A replacement cost policy will pay you out more but also costs more in premiums
If you are filing a personal liability claim you should document the damage or injury you’re responsible for and obtain witness statements if possible
Renters insurance is a smart investment for renters of all kinds to protect their personal property and liability — renters insurance can reimburse you for damaged or stolen items in your home, and pay the costs if you’re responsible for someone else’s injury or damage to their property. If your rental becomes uninhabitable, your renters insurance policy will also cover the cost of staying elsewhere, like at a nearby hotel.
To be reimbursed for a loss, you’ll have to go through the claims process. When filing a renters insurance claim, you will need to provide your insurance company with a decent amount of information about the loss, including the value of the damaged or stolen belongings, reports from police, and photographs or eyewitness reports about the damage or theft.
You should start this process well before you have to file a claim. When you sign up for renters insurance, you should make an inventory of your belongings and how much each item is worth. It’s also helpful to have photos of your belongings. When it comes to making a home inventory, you don’t need to worry about photographing every pair of socks that you own. You should stick to your more valuable items, like furniture, electronics, jewelry, home decor, cookware, and your more valuable clothing.
To determine how much the replacement cost of your damaged or stolen items is when you file a claim, the insurance company will need to reference any documentation you made of your belongings before the damage or loss took place. A lot of times it’s easiest to just provide your insurance provider with the receipts from the purchase of your belongings. However, it’s understandable that not everyone keeps their receipts on hand. It’s still possible to file a renters insurance claim without receipts.
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A renters insurance policy is made up of three coverage categories.
Some covered perils include:
If your personal property is stolen or vandalized, you should call the police and file a police report before you notify your insurer. You should also contact your landlord to let them know of any damage caused by a burglary or vandalism, or any other damage that affected your rental unit. After you’ve done that, you should begin the renters insurance claim process.
Claims usually need to be filed between the first 24 to 72 hours from the incident. To make the process easier you should have your policy number or declarations page on hand. You should also provide your insurance company with a phone number where they can reach you easily.
You can file a claim in a few ways:
Most insurance companies will require you to show proof of loss when you are filing a personal property claim. This means you need to prove that your item was stolen or damaged by a covered peril.
Once you begin your claim, you should scan or photograph the receipts for your damaged belongings and attach them to your claim file along with photographs of the damaged items or a police report indicating they were stolen. This will usually suffice as proof of loss for most insurance providers. They will then determine, based on your receipts, photographs, and the amount of damage, how much you will be reimbursed.
As we mentioned, you can usually file a claim through your insurance providers website, app, or over the phone. Once you file the claim, you will be assigned a claims adjuster who will go through the process of investigating your situation.
If you don’t have receipts for every single one of your belongings, don’t panic. Most insurance companies are understanding of this.
There are still a few ways you can prove a loss of personal property and indicate what the value of your items was even if you don’t have a receipt.
If you’re not one for keeping or printing receipts, or if you receive your valuable items as a gift, you should document your item as soon as you get it. You can do this in a few ways.
This can seem like a lot of work, but it’ll save you trouble in the long run. You can easily upload these photos or videos to a file on your computer, or a Google Drive or Dropbox that you share with your insurer.
If you recently bought an item that’s since been stolen or damaged, you can check your bank statement or credit card statement online, on an app, or in person. Your bank or credit card statement will have a record of the purchase, which you can then send to your insurance provider.
Even if you purchased your item a long time ago, if you have the same bank account or credit card and can remember when you bought the item you should still be able to search for the purchase on your statement.
Another way to prove the value of your items is to research them online. If you know the brand or remember where you bought the item, it should be easy to simply type that information into an online search and see how much it’s worth.
You can also try taking a photo of the item and reverse image searching it online. You might get lucky and find a match of the item you're looking for or at least one of similar value.
If you have expensive furniture, antiques, collectibles, art, or jewelry, it’s probably a good idea to get a professional appraisal before anything bad happens to them. The appraiser can then give you a copy of their evaluation that you can send to your insurance provider. Make sure you go to a professional appraiser and not one who is trying to buy your items off you, because you may not get an accurate evaluation for your needs.
Once your claim is approved, you have to pay your deductible before your coverage kicks in. This means if your deductible is $500 and you have a loss worth $2,000, you need to pay your insurance provider $500 before you’ll be reimbursed for the remaining $1,500.
There are two different types of policies that will determine how you would get reimbursed in the event of a covered claim.
If you have a replacement cost policy and your couch gets ruined in a fire, your replacement cost insurance policy will reimburse you as if the couch was new, up to your policy’s limit. But if you have an actual cash value insurance policy, your policy will pay you a depreciated amount for the couch, taking into account the age of the couch and regular wear and tear.
Basically, actual cash value policies pay you what your item might cost at the time you file your claim, meaning the value now that its considered a used item. So if you’ve had your couch for 10 years, they are going to reimburse you for the price of a similar 10-year-old couch — up to your insurance policy’s limit.
Once you file a renters insurance personal property claim, your provider will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the damage or theft, either in person or remotely. The claims adjuster will determine how much money you should receive in reimbursement. The claims adjuster will make sure that your claim is eligible and valid under your policy description.
The claims adjuster then sends their findings onto your insurance company. Some investigations can take weeks and some can take days. You should contact your insurance provider to ask for an estimated timeframe so you have a better idea of how long this will take. You should also be able to track the status of your claim through your provider’s website or mobile app.
Just like when filing a personal property claim, you should document all the damage done when filing a personal liability claim. If someone is injured in your home and you need to file a claim, you should document what happened and how the person was injured. You should also document statements from any witness that were present when the incident took place. You’ll need medical bills from them, and information from their doctor or any medical professionals who treated them for the injury.
The victim can file a claim with your insurer, and your liability coverage will cover the legal fees from a lawsuit or the medical expenses of the injured person up to your insurance policy limit. Your documentation can also serve as evidence and prove whether you are liable for their injury or not.
If the claim is approved, some insurance providers will provide you with a lawyer to represent you or to reach settlement. However, if any of the cost exceeds your coverage limit, you will be responsible for paying the remainder, as well as any deductible.
Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto and renters insurance. She previously worked as a freelance writer and copywriter, and has been writing about insurance since 2019. Kara is an expert at making complicated topics like property insurance simple to understand. Her work can be found in Teen Vogue, The Culture Crush, and more.
Kara has a B.A. in English from East Carolina University.
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