Thunderstorms -or- Home Owners Insurance Question

Rives Elmore

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I have a question for anyone who has gone through electronics replacement via Home Owners Insurance.

My house was hit by lightning yesterday afternoon, either directly (according to Fire Dept...though I can find no entry / exit marks anywhere), or indirectly via Power Lines or phone lines. The following was burnt out / or destroyed by the surge:

55 inch Toshiba Projection TV
XBOX (damn Ninja Gaiden gamesave gone, SHITE!)
DirecTV Hughes Receiver
Netgear Wireless G router
Alcatel Speed Touch Home DSL modem
JVC 5.1 DD/DTS Receiver
5.1 Home Speaker System

My question is this : How do insurance companies go about replacing such items? The TV alone was a $2000.00 purchase a few years ago, yet it cannot even be found in stores today. Do we get enough for a comporable model? or what the TV would be worth now (practically nothing). We certainly do not have enough free cash to go out and purchase a $2000.00 TV, which would amount to a 55 inch TV with all the bells and whistles.
 

Kirk Gunn

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We had a similar experience and the insurance company paid for replacement value of electronics, but that's what we originally stipulated in our policy.

The insurance folks even allowed me to upgrade my receiver for 100.00 to the next current model, which would have been 250+ retail !

On the other hand, the lightning struck and destroyed a very large tree near our house. Fortunately it did not come down, but the insurance company claimed that, "by law", they could only pay 500.00 for tree removal....

Cost over 1000.00 to cut down, haul away, remove the stump, re-do landscaping, etc.

Odd thing - when the lightning struck, we were watching a 35" Sony TV, and it barely blinked during the BANG ! Has been fine ever since. The Denon reciever was powered off, but blew out... very odd. Perhaps the TV being plugged into cable allowed some sort of bleed back into the system where the reciever just took it all in ?

Good Luck - while it's nice to have insurance, it's a major pain when you need it !
 

Rives Elmore

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therein lies the problem, the stuff on that list you can still get fine, barring the JVC receiver and the Toshiba TV. That TV is no longer sold (4x3)...so they should let me go grab a similar size 16x9 TV since 4x3's are not at my local electronics stores?
 

Kirk Gunn

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My insurance company actually shipped me product instead of cash for my electronics.

Ex: My Denon 2700 receiver was blown out by lightning. An insurance person called me and stated they would be shipping the AVR-2801 out as a replacement. I asked for the price to upgrade to the AVR-3300, and it was 100.00, so they took 100.00 off the total settlement for the tree and some other incidental damage. They soon sent me the 3300 receiver from a wholesaler (that was Denon-warrantied).

As I have just been through boat-insurance stuff that was handled totally different, your mileage may vary with your TV. Try explaining your original model is no longer available, and you'd like to explore options with 16x9 vs 4x3. If the insured 4x3 model is no longer available, they shouldn't care as long as the replacement models are close in price.
 

Keith Mickunas

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This will probably vary wildly by insurance company, state, and policy type. If you specified replacement cost, it can help. I had to deal with this once with a USAA renters policy. They sent me a check minus the deductible for the value of the things I lost plus the cost to get estimates on some of the items. So I was able to buy whatever I wanted. They valued my DSP-A3090 at around $1300 when it was probably 5 years old. I ended up spending my complete settlement on an RX-V1, then replaced what other items I needed myself. They were pretty cool about somethings, like when I said it would cost $60 to get an estimate on my printer, and it could be replaced for around $100, they told me just to replace it. Also they gave me $300 for a stereo receiver that cost me around $300 when I bought it almost ten years prior to the lightning strike. Makes me wonder, perhpas I sent them the receipt the 3090 because I bought that used, that could explain the price.

Oh yeah, I was told by my uncle who repairs TVs that lightning will often follow the path of most resistance. So the big power supplies and such in your amp and RPTV may have drawn the lightning to it. When I got hit, the 3090 was totally fried, my Tivo lost it's modem, and my stereo in another room was fused so that it only would play one input, and it was noisy. I also lost a cheapy sub on a PC, and some various PC and networking components.
 

DonnyD

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I just went through the same thing....... since I had a "replacement" clause in my insurance, I received a check to cover the cost of replacing the items I lost. Hope you get what you need to buy what you need..........
 
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Depends on your policy. However, most companies are willing to be flexible so long as you're not trying to be dishonest. E.g. suppose you said that you wanted a widescreen rather than a conventional set that had been destroyed. I seriously doubt if they would raise objections. Ditto if you said you wanted the money for the broken set but wanted to put money of your own towards an upgrade. The issue is more likely to be whether you had a 'new for old' policy (i.e. you get the cost of buying a new item to replace the old or a 'current market price' policy (i.e. the cost of buying a used item of the same standard as the item that was destroyed). In the UK at least most folks have new for old policies, and I can't believe that the USA is any different in this.

Oh and one other thing - I don't want to rub salt in the wound, Rives, but have you heard of surge protectors?
 

Keith Mickunas

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Lightning goes where it wants to. I had surge protectors on my gear. Unfortunately I didn't protect every path, as I believe it came in via the cable modem, still I don't know how it got to my receiver. After all, the cable box was fine, and only the Tivo's modem was shot, however no other phones were hurt. In my computer room I think it traveled the network and went out the sound cards on two PCs, although the sound cards survived but much of the network equipment was shot. Does that make sense? No, but it looks to be what happened.

Also, some surge suppresors get fused after one surge, so while they may appear to still be functional, they really aren't. So unless you know for certain they got used once and replaced them, you may have a false sense of security.
 

Rives Elmore

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The house was directly hit by lightning, we had your run of the mill surge protectors on the devices (not Monster Cable shiat or the like)...it melted them on the way through. Direct strikes are impossible to protect against, save for pulling the plugs.

I looked at our policy last night, its an HO-3 policy, and we paid extra for "Replace Cost Personal Property". I figure as long as I dont ask for a 60" plasma screen, or a DLP / LCD, they won't have a problem with it.
 

MikeAlletto

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Be careful with making claims on homeowners insurance. That claim will stay on your record forever and may make it extremely difficult to get homeowners insurance later. If its only about 5 grand of stuff is it really worth claiming on insurance and running the risk of not being able to get insurance at all or at a reasonable price later on in your life? Personally I few homeowners insurance as a way to save yourself if your home is completely or partially destroyed. It lightening would have hit the home for example. At least in Texas its extremely hard to find homeowners insurance because of all the mold and mold lawsuits people filed.
 

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