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When water damages something priceless

Florida residents know all too well how destructive excess water can be. Whether it is the humidity in the air or water coming into homes during a hurricane, the same liquid that we depend on to live can easily destroy our homes and most prized belongings. When that happens, we turn to our insurance policies to help put the pieces back together.

In some cases, getting proper compensation for the things we own is a simple enough process because it is relatively easy to put a price on a replacement couch or new carpeting. Insurance adjusters may quibble about the right dollar amount, but in the end there is a finite value to something like a television that was ruined by a flood. So what happens when water damages things with a less certain value, or things that are priceless?

After Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City, dozens of art galleries and artist's studios had to grapple with this question. Some works of art had obvious value on the open market, while others may not have been particularly sought after but had a special place in the heart of the owner. Here in Florida, many homeowners have art, family heirlooms, and collectable items that fall into much the same category of items with value that are at the same time quite priceless.

In some cases these items can be restored by experts but in others they must be "replaced" which typically means getting a payment from the relevant insurance company for the value of the item. This can lead to a long negotiation process with specialized appraisers and adjusters, trying to determine the precise worth of an item of emotional importance. When these claims are denied or undervalued, many homeowners find it helpful to seek advice and assistance from experienced insurance claims denial attorneys.

Source: New York Times, "Storm Leaves Residue of Questions," Stacey Stowe, May 9, 2013.

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