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They might replace your lost Pottery Barn items with Walmart merchandise

insurance claims

Insurance company adjusters often dispute the value of furniture, jewelry and other items lost in a fire or flood, says Kim Cary, an independent adjuster with Quality Claims Management Corp. in San Diego. It may be an honest mistake, as when an insurance adjuster from low-cost Mississippi is sent to evaluate high-end California claims. The adjuster could also be overworked, as many were after Hurricane Katrina.

But remember that these the insurer’s adjusters always work for the insurer, not you, and if given the opportunity they may offer discount-merchandise prices or current value rather than true replacement cost. If you buy expensive items, compile a list and store it and your sales receipts off-site.

Home insurance companies could also try to wear you down with lowball offers, or play "telephone tag" by switching adjusters and forcing you to start the process anew. "They hope you'll give up and walk away," says Cary.

Here’s how to hire a public insurance adjuster who will work for you.

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