Having remodels and major repair work done on your home can be a stressful time. There’s the disruption to your family’s daily routine, the noise, and the mess — not to mention the costs involved and the need to make what feels like umpteen decisions.
That stress can be compounded exponentially if your contractor or one of the subcontractors does the unthinkable and steals from your home. While most contractors and their employees are good people just trying to do their jobs, contractor theft does occur leaving many homeowners to wonder whether homeowners insurance covers the stolen property.
A big problem is the ease of access — when your home is being worked on by contractors, you have people you don’t know in your home for long stretches of time, oftentimes while you aren’t around. Sometimes a contractor will even have access to the key to your property for the duration of the project. And obviously, home security systems aren’t a protection in this situation either.
Avoid contractor theft: prepare your home
First, make sure you have contacted your agent or carrier to let them know work is being done on your home. This is important for several reasons, including making sure your home is adequately insured while the work is being done. As noted in an earlier post about remodels, some homeowners policies require that work be done to code by licensed contractors — if it isn’t, your policy might be voided. Make sure you understand what your policy coverage limits are for theft of personal property, and if there are any exclusions.
Research contractors, and ask for recommendations from friends and family or any available source. Use a contractor who is trusted and recommended, and who has a good track record.
Request that your contractor provide you with documentation showing that he or she is insured, licensed, and bonded in your state. Ask your contractor where tools and equipment will be stored, and what the policies are for using subcontractors. If subcontractors will be working on your project, make certain they have insurance coverage too. Ask your contractor what kinds of insurance he or she carries, whether they have general liability, workers’ compensation, and builders risk policies.
If you are providing a contractor with a key to your home, get a written list showing who will have access to that key during the project.
Make sure your home inventory is up to date, and verify that high value items have been added to your valuable personal property rider. If there are any smaller items you are particularly concerned about, such as heirloom jewelry or passports, consider securing them in a safety deposit box at a bank. Firearms should be locked in a gun safe.
If you have laptop computers, cameras, or other electronics such as tablets that you will use on a daily basis during the renovation, and will therefore need ready access to, you might want to consider keeping those items in one room away from the work area that can be locked when you aren’t around.
Does homeowners insurance cover stolen property?
If, despite taking all of these precautions, items are stolen from your home while it is being worked on, your homeowners insurance will cover your loss (after your deductible). You will most likely need to file a report with the police. It can be very hard to prove that a worker stole from the home unless there is evidence, so getting your contractor to cover the loss can be very difficult.
One more note: if you have provided a key to your contractor during a project, you should have your locks re-keyed once all the work is completed.
To learn more about carriers and homeowners policies, take time to read some of the reviews left on Clearsurance.
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