For over 20 years, I’ve represented homeowners in front of large insurance companies. I spend my days assisting my clients in the preparation, presentation, negotiation, and adjustment of their insurance claims. Today, I’m sharing an experience I had while handling a theft loss claim in Calabasas:
How did you first become involved with this claim?
I was involved with this claim from the very beginning. I was contacted directly by the business owner, who was referred to me by one of his industry colleagues. If you’re familiar with some of my other case studies, you’ll note that many of my cases are residential. In this case, the business owner was making a claim for a devastating theft loss.
What exactly had been stolen?
My client owned a wholesale electronics company. The company operated almost entirely online (in fact, the theft took place at his warehouse, which was the only physical location for the company).
His business model is relatively common nowadays. He receives the orders online, prints the shipping labels, and proceeds to the warehouse to package the items. On the day of the theft, he’d received over 300 orders. Unfortunately, when he arrived at the warehouse, he discovered that they’d been robbed. The thieves stole most of his inventory as well as cash that had been kept in a safe.
Was there anything he could do to avoid filing a claim?
After an incident of this magnitude, most business owners have no choice but to open a claim. The consequences of the lost inventory almost led this owner to file bankruptcy. You see, the theft made the entire company look fraudulent in the eyes of his online clients. The owner could not fulfill the orders that had been placed, and he had to issue all the requested refunds. Of course, many of the jilted customers who had received their refunds still left negative reviews, which irreparably damaged the credibility of his brand. Electronics are often small-ticket items, and the poor reviews left after the theft crippled any future business.
How did the insurance company handle the theft claim?
The insurance provider sent out an accountant to negotiate the value of the stolen items and loss of income. I worked with them to calculate the exact amount of the loss. This process was fairly time-consuming. Unfortunately, even after we believed it was finished, we still ran into delays.
Why did the insurance company delay the claim?
When you’re dealing with high-value settlements, it’s not uncommon to experience delays. In this case, we had to determine what was causing the delay. We decided to arrange a meeting with the adjuster, who agreed to meet us at the warehouse.
We came prepared, ready to supply as much documentation as we could, including inventory purchase orders and records of online sales. Nothing seemed to move the needle. Finally, the adjuster revealed the problem causing the delay: he simply could not believe the value of the cash that had been stolen from the safe.
In a situation like this, what could you do to fight for your case?
On the night of the theft, the safe contained over $30,000. From an outside perspective, I understood his skepticism. However, I also understood my client and his business practices. It was entirely common for him to keep large sums in the safe for cash purchase of stock.
I decided to illustrate our position with an unconventional strategy: I challenged the adjuster to open the safe for himself.
At the time, it contained over $200,000 in cash. The adjuster was able to see this with his own eyes. He also knew that we couldn’t have planned the demonstration because we weren’t aware of the specifics of the claim valuation problem! After that, we were able to secure a settlement for the stolen cash as well as the lost inventory.