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[Towertalk] ARRL Insurance

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Subject: [Towertalk] ARRL Insurance
From: (Jim Idelson)
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2002 09:56:40 -0400
Nothing like learning from experience . . .

I have had several major lightning events over the past five years. My 
home-owners policy has a deductible around $500, but it covers everything. You 
don't have to list equipment on the policy in advance. Lightning doesn't 
discriminate between ham equipment and other electronics and appliances found 
in your home. This policy provides for replacement cost reimbursements, and the 
adjustor has never had a problem with replacements that might reasonably be 
more costly and up-to-date than the original equipment.

When the dollar amounts start to rise, the insurance company will become 
interested in the potential scrap value of your completely destroyed radio 
equipment. They may ask you to give them the old equipment. But, when you tell 
them of the extremely small market for your radio and the difficulty they will 
have selling it, they might let you keep it for parts.

I've never had outdoor antenna damage - it's always been the electronics and 
computer equipment inside. But, I worry that a claim relating to the tower or 
antennas might surprise the adjustor. So, I have informed the insurance company 
of the existence of the tower, and I've shown them the completed building 
permit. This will help to show that the tower and antennas are insured 

How do you get maximum reimbursement for your losses?  By far, the most 
important thing is to MAKE THE ADJUSTOR'S JOB EASY! An insurance adjustor 
spends the morning in the office doing paperwork and his/her entire afternoon 
driving around looking at damaged things - things they don't care about at all. 
Every insurance adjustor I've met really looks forward to quitting time. They 
allocate a certain amount of time to every visit. If you can get him out of 
your house early, he can get home early. Keep this in mind all the time.

The adjustor will be looking for a few things during the visit:
1.  Evidence of damages and the probable causes,
2.  Evidence of your ownership of the damaged property and possibly evidence of 
what you paid for it and when, and
3.  Evidence of what it will cost to replace or repair the damaged item.

Demonstrating that a device is damaged is important. If there is obvious 
physical damage, make sure it is apparent when the adjustor comes to visit. The 
adjustor will usually be carrying a digital camera to take photos of the 
damage. Make that job easy. I have offered my own digital photos, and they are 
often accepted by the adjustor. If the damage can't be seen, then do a 
demonstration. My FT-1000MP had charcoal on the back near the antenna 
connector, and when plugged in, it wouldn't come on at all.

If an item is completely destroyed, you may be able to just say so, or you can 
provide the written statement of a qualified repair shop. The insurance 
coverage will reimburse you for the cost of getting the equipment looked at by 
the shop. You need to show that the equipment cannot be repaired for less than 
the cost of replacement. The best news for you is sometimes that replacement 
parts are no longer available, etc.

Was there a big lightning storm or a major wind that caused the damage? It was 
probably mentioned in the newspaper, or it was noted on the Weather Channel 
website. Make a copy of an account of the circumstances that probably caused 
the damage and give it to the adjustor.

Evidence of ownership simply informs the adjustor that the damaged equipment is 
truly yours. You can show receipts, credit card statements, etc, to show that 
the stuff is yours. It's good to keep all documents when you buy a new or used 
piece of equipment. If you don't need to show what you paid, you might want to 
produce shipping documents that don't include price information. 

If the reasonable approach is to get the equipment repaired, show a repair 
estimate. If you want to replace the item, show evidence of the replacement 
cost. The insurance company expects you to buy a new unit, not a used one. If 
the damaged unit is no longer a current model, you should replace it with the 
most comparable current version. This choice is essentially up to you. If you 
provide specs in written form that can be used as evidence, the adjustor will 
be happy. His goal, remember, is to fill the file with evidence. He doesn't 
have to understand it.

You and the adjustor also know that there is a wide range in repair and 
replacement pricing. You can choose to demonstrate low, medium or high prices. 
For replacements, I have usually shown evidence obtained from the web of prices 
ranging from discounted distributor prices to full list price. My "honesty is 
the best policy" approach has usually resulted in maximum reimbursements. The 
adjustor will look at the evidence, realize that he can get home early [instead 
of doing price research back at the office], and he will thank you by putting 
the list price evidence in his folder and telling you to put away the 
discounted pricing info because you might not be able to get the equipment at 
that price.

One more word of caution: Don't finalize your insurance claim too quickly. The 
insidious and widespread results of a lightning event can go undetected for a 
long time. I have found many damaged devices weeks after the claim was closed 
out. You cannot then amend your claim or create a second claim for the same 
event without a second application of deductible, so anything you find later is 
your problem.

I have found that the approach of doing all the homework for the adjustor will 
get you the best possible results. It's a lot of work, but this is the approach 
I recommend.

The end result of your claim is a check made out to you from the insurance 
company. One thing you should know is that you are not required to spend that 
money in the same manner that was used to calculate your damages. You can spend 
it any way you want. If you decide to get out of 2M moonbounce, and instead 
invest that money in your new 136KHz LF station, its not an issue for the 
insurance company.

Although I have always felt good about the way things turned out with the 
insurance company, I would never choose to have a lightning strike. I've lost 
extremely valuable and irreplaceable computer data, and spent huge amounts of 
time documenting losses and preparing for adjustor visits. Right now, my 
station is not in use, and ALL my antennas are disconnected. All AC power is 
supplied through a large UPS. When there's a thundserstorm approaching, I shut 
down everything and disconnect every connection to the outside world. I unplug 
all phone, ISDN and DSL lines coming into the shack. I unplug the UPS from the 
wall. I am also looking carefully at investing in Polyphaser-type upgrades to 
my grounding and lightning arrest system.

I hope you don't ever have to go through this process, but if you do, I hope 
these suggestions are helpful.


Jim K1IR

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[Towertalk] ARRL Insurance 
Mon, 15 Jul 2002 16:43:24 -0500 
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Someone recently inquired about the ARRL insurance plan.  I have a Yaesu
FT1000MP Mark-V and a Kenwood TM-331 that were severely damaged my a
lightning strike to one of my towers.  The insurance has agreed to pay for
the purchase of new radios.  I also had some rotor and switchbox damage, but
since I don't list these items they were not covered.  They were all easily
fixable my me anyway, except for the WX0B Stackmaster Control box which is
toast.  I'm happy with the policy.

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Jim Idelson K1IR

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