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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Using Photographs in Insurance Claims

In a property insurance contract it is the responsibility of the client to ensure there is full disclosure to the insurer when declaring the details of the property to be insured. In many instances, a detailed written description of the property to be insured or claimed for may suffice but there are times when providing the insurer with more specific information on the property makes sense. With the technology such as digital cameras and smart cellular telephones available to almost everyone these days, confirmation of very specific property details is made so much easier than ever before. Taking photos of property for insurance is beneficial in both underwriting and claims situations. Photos assist in identifying property and some aspects of the relevant risks to be insured.

As prudent as it may be, it is not always possible or feasible for the broker or the insurer to send a representative to inspect properties they are involved with. Basic details common to the type of property being insured may be obtained telephonically and on application forms. Property is normally accepted as standard unless specifically declared otherwise. In the event of damage occurring, damaged property is usually available to bear testimony to and confirm the before and after circumstances of the relevant property.

In some instances it may be necessary to repair or replace damaged property urgently in order to avoid the risks of further damage occurring. This is the responsibility of the insured in terms of the policy wording – “General Conditions – take all reasonable precautions to prevent further loss”. In such instances it is always good practice to photograph the damage before any repair work begins. In doing so, there is evidence of the damage in the event that the insurer disputes the details of the damages claim or rejects the claim. Sending photos of damaged property to the insurer may also significantly speed up the reinstatement process by allowing the insurer to make more informed decisions faster.

In the underwriting process, photos usually reveal far more detail of the risk than an application or written correspondence. Photographing unusual or non-standard items of property aid in identifying the nature of the property as well as some of the risks imposed by that property. An example is where a thatch lapa (non-standard construction) is to be insured. The location of the lapa is important to establish if it will affect the insurance of surrounding standard property. Providing the insurer with a couple of well-aimed photos will bring clarity and go a long way to ensuring that underwriting the risk is completed accurately and efficiently.

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words and by recording images of your property, you afford both the insurer and yourself, as the insured, additional protection by ensuring there is less doubt and speculation when dealing with your property insurance.


Author:  Bruce Gibson

Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – to get fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact us in Johannesburg on (011) 704-3858; in Durban on (031) 459-1795 and in Cape Town on (021) 551-5069