The "Contents Pack-out" Trap and How to Escape It

“Material pack-out” is a term used by water and fire restoration contractors and insurance companies. This is the process in which the contractor sends trucks, boxes and workers to your home. They pack all the damaged personal property in your home or business and ship it back to their warehouse. Once the personal property is in the warehouse, the contractor begins the cleaning and restoration process.

Insurance companies do not like to change personal property. They clean or repair it and give it back to you. This drastically reduces the cost of their claims, making them happy.

I have been an insurance adjuster for over 16 years, and in the insurance business for 35 years. I have seen very few instances where personally damaged personal property can only be cleaned or successfully repaired. Most fires burn or infect toxic chemicals in personal property, like wood or textiles. Due to this, there is loss in floods. My personal opinion is that replacement of damaged personal property is better than repair or cleaning.

So, what is a trap?

Insurance adjusters like to pounce and “pack-out” with their preferred approved restoration contractor. But there is a limit on personal property in your insurance policy. The amount of money authorized by the insurance adjuster to clear your contents is paid against the limits of the policy. Therefore, if the restoration contractor cleans a bunch of your damaged property, but you reject it as damaged, the contractor is still paid. But you now have less money to replace your damaged personal property.

The trap is that a pack-out can punish you when you are submitting your insurance claim!

Here is escape strategy

1. You own personal property … not an insurance company and not a restoration contractor. It is your decision as to what is repaired and what is replaced, not the adjuster.

2. Call in your own restoration contractor for a second opinion. It shouldn’t cost you anything, but even if it did, it would be well spent money.

3. Ensure that every item removed from your home is listed on an inventory sheet.

4. Based on the opinion of your contractor, negotiate a replacement with the adjuster and settle the claim.

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