Policyholder Question: Can I Refuse Cleaning and Inventory Services from my Insurer?
Here is an insurance claim question that we answered as a contributing member of insurance claim experts for United Policyholders who advocates for property owners.
Q. Can the insurance company force you to use an outside vendor to inventory your personal contents rather than allow you to do it yourself? Can you refuse cleaning and inventory services that an adjuster is trying to make you use?
A. As always, you need to read your insurance policy to see what stipulations are put on the use of vendors. The place to look is in “DUTIES AFTER A LOSS” and possibly in the section that outlines payment of the claim. It’s not clear from your question if your loss is a commercial or residential loss, but generally if an inventory is required particularly on a commercial loss, an insurance company will bring in an outside vendor to help them fully document the items that were in place at the time of the loss. Sometimes this is done for co-insurance reasons, other times for salvage determination, and of course to memorialize what was actually there at the time of the loss.
A “DUTIES AFTER A LOSS” section almost universally will state that you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. While this may seem broad in scope, I think most insurance practitioners would agree that allowing an inventory vendor to come in would fall under your duty to cooperate.
I would suggest you and your insurance company conduct a joint inventory together and both parties sign each inventory sheet when it is completed. You could also hire your own public adjuster to do this for you. Both parties should then be given a copy of the completed inventory.
Having a joint inventory is advantageous to you and your insurance company should a dispute arise in the settlement/adjustment negotiations. The signed and dated inventory form by the policyholder or their representative and the insurance company’s vendor will likely resolve any issues on what was there at the time of the loss.
Regarding the cleaning services, you have a duty to cooperate and allow the insurance company to have their vendors look at the loss. However, there is no requirement that I am aware of (subject to your policy language) that says you have to let their vendor actually do the work. Many policyholders exercise their right to bring in their own qualified restoration firm that they may be more comfortable with.
The insurance company has a duty to pay for your loss. There are steps that need to be taken such as documenting and valuing the loss, but at the end of the day you should be paid for the loss and then if you want to use a vendor sent out by the your insurance company, that is your choice. Good luck!
If you have questions regarding any property insurance claim related issues please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster or insurance claim experts.