How Are Hoarding Claims Handled by Insurance Companies
When there’s a hoarding cleaning situation, insurance claims regarding hoarding tend to be more complex and difficult to handle. Just by looking at the outside of a home, it is usually tough to tell whether the individual living there has a hoarding disorder. However, upon entering the home, hoarding is often evident because of the large clutter and the amount of risks involved just going into the property.
Hoarding is a disorder that can manifest on its own or as a symptom of another condition such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Individuals affected by hoarding are indecisive about discarding certain items and may feel anxious about getting rid of things, making them unable to part with their possessions. What makes hoarders different from collectors is the purpose behind their actions; collectors take pride in their belongings and find value in them, but hoarders want to keep various things regardless of their value — if any.
Hoarding and Homeowner’s Insurance
Because hoarding is often unseen from the outside, insurance representatives won’t know an individual is a hoarder just by doing an outside inspection. But there can be a problem if the hoarder files an insurance claim.
From clothing to old newspapers to trash, hoarders will accumulate so many belongings in their home over time. The affected areas become unavailable to be used for their intended purpose and instead become storage for excessive belongings. The items will pile up so much that it’s often difficult and unsafe to enter certain rooms. This lack of access then makes it tough for insurance adjusters to know what’s inside the room and what issues are present. The items can also serve as trip and fire hazards, which also makes it dangerous for an insurance adjuster to even inspect for problems.
Hidden within and beneath the stacks upon stacks of contents can be mold growth, water damage, biohazard materials, even dead animals, and other hazards. The biohazard materials, in particular, are concerning because exposure to such can cause disease and infection. The effort an insurance adjuster may have to put into the work may lead to the claim being denied altogether. In fact, sometimes, hoarding insurance claims are denied, because the problem came about due to the hoarding disorder and a lack of proper maintenance.
So if an individual is a hoarder, they’ll have more issues getting proper insurance coverage. Hoarders, however, are more prone to have items damaged by mold, fire, and flooding — partially because of that lack of maintenance.
Hoarding Insurance Claims
It can be difficult to work with the affected individuals during the claims process. Hoarders are protective of their belongings and can be particular about other people interacting with them. In some cases, the items may not even be covered, because they have no value, are in poor condition, or serve no purpose.
The key to working with hoarders in such situations, though, is to build trust and maintain comfort. Because of the mental aspect of a hoarding disorder, insurance workers must be cautious and sensitive about their work. For example, if insurance employees want to work with the hoarder to reach the damage, this may involve moving belongings around. The affected individual should always have a say and some control over how to go about this to maintain some level of trust and comfort.
Hoarders rarely seek help for their situation on their own, because they may not realize their problem or are too embarrassed of it. Knowing this, if you know an individual with a hoarding disorder, it is essential that you emphasize to them the importance of getting help for their problem and getting their home cleaned. By having their homes cleaned, they will create a much safer and more sanitary living situation.
The more stuff a hoarder accumulates, the more prone they are to injuries. The excessive amount of possessions often accumulates so much that there are mobility issues and tripping hazards. There’s also a greater chance that their home will suffer damage. Such damage may not always be covered by insurance either, because insurance companies may see that the issue was caused by negligence and a lack of proper maintenance.
When an individual affected by the hoarding disorder has agreed to help, be sure to contact a professional service for hoarding cleanup services. It’s especially important, however, that the affected individual is on board to receive help. Professional technicians will be sensitive and show compassion to the affected individual. They develop a connection with the affected individual to build trust. Then, professionals work with them to determine what to discard to eliminate the clutter. Professionals also have the proper experience and equipment to handle hoarding cleaning in a safe, effective manner.