Snaps make for better back-up

28 January 2000

Snaps make for better back-up

BOUGHT a new tractor, quad bike or trailer? Then nip out and take a few snap-shots of it. Not so much for the family photo album as to help speed-up the insurance claims procedure should some unscrupulous being take a shine to it one night.

According to Jackie Bulman, claims superintendent at the NFU Mutuals West Midlands branch in Stratford-upon-Avon, a half-decent photograph helps no end in determining the value of stolen goods. And the quicker that is decided, the quicker payment can be made.

"Claims that are well-supported with the relevant documents are much easier to process," she points out. "In the case of vehicles, we require registration and MOT documents, as well as ignition and door keys. We also like to see purchase receipts, of course, and these are needed to support claims for any stolen goods or equipment."

So, theres another incentive for keeping well-ordered accounts and files.

But a good photograph can tell assessors a lot about the insured item – about the specification of vehicles, for example, as well as its condition (if photos are regularly updated) and any adds-ons or modifications that might affect its value.

"In making a claim, remember to include any additional fittings – such as winches, bull-bars or after-fit wheels and tyres – that might affect the final value of the vehicle," Miss Bulman advises. "And remember, we like to see purchase receipts for those, too."

Original receipts are returned if submitted but photocopies are acceptable as long as they are produced from original documents verified by the local agent.

Serial and chassis numbers are similarly welcome – not so much to expedite claims as to give the insurer a better chance of recovering its loss. The company subscribes to The Equipment Register, an organisation that records the ownership details of equipment owned by individual subscribers, but also circulates details of stolen items on the Mutuals books to the police, port authorities, auction rooms and the like.

"This is a very useful resource that helps recover stolen equipment and enables us to either return it to the owner or recoup its value," notes Jackie Bulman. "Any bit of information that helps with identification is welcome, including vehicle or trailer liveries, unusual fittings, and so on."

When it comes to stolen stock and produce, the NFU Mutual accepts the limitations of using branch office staff or the companys loss adjusters (they have their own areas of expertise) to decide values. Instead, a local assessor – often a retired farmer – will be called in to help.

Policies are designed to take into account the fluctuating value of stock and produce on farms through the year and, as long as the sum insured covers at least 75% of the loss, claims will normally go through.

It is clearly important, though, to ensure that any permanent increase in risk is reflected in the sum insured – and that policy renewals are kept up to date.

Should the need to claim arise, completing the "circumstances of theft" section of the form should be straight-forward enough. But the local agent will be willing to help and has the experience and training to ensure that all details needed for smooth processing of claims are included. And they should appreciate the value of clear hand-writing!

It is also a policy condition that thefts are reported to the police.

"Its just a safeguard, really," says Jackie Bulman. "We have very few problems with insurance fraud but, if a theft has not been reported, our suspicions are bound to be aroused."

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