Insurance fraud or can we keep the money?

In the process of moving (Texas to North Carolina) our movers disappeared with our stuff. We filed a police report (in both states). We also filed an insurance claim and the stuff was covered by the renters insurance we had. The insurance company processed the claim, told us to start replacing stuff, and sent us a check. 60 days later, after being out of contact for about 70 days, the movers called and then delivered our stuff. We spent the bulk of the insurance money on stuff and have been using it for 40-50 days (washer/dryer, furniture, clothes). How should we proceed? We have a bunch of extra stuff, but we aren’t sure we can return a lot of the new stuff since some of it is fairly used. Without returning it, we can’t return the money. Are we required to pay the money back? Are we required to call the insurance company and tell them we have our stuff back? I’ve already called the police and told them our stuff was delivered. The call to the insurance company scares me a little. I’m not sure what they are going to say.

Additional info:
Here is what happened to the movers. The company lost their USDOT license sometime after picking up our stuff and went out of business. The phone numbers changed, the e-mails didn’t work, the website went down. We had no way of getting a hold of them at all. The company that delivered the stuff is under a different name, but I’m pretty sure it was the same people. I figure police, insurance company, and maybe even FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) pressure led to the return of our stuff. All of those people were looking for them.

I’m sure that you need to tell the insurance company, and sort things out. Given that you claimed in good faith, and spent the money in good faith, I don’t see that you would be required to return the new items you bought, but you may be required to return unspent money, and the insurance company may have a claim on some of the older items (for what that is worth!)

But I’m not an insurance expert.

I don’t think anyone can answer this since it will depend on the specific terms of the insurance. Do you have your policy? Did they send something witht the check?

It seems like the insurance is there to cover you for the losses you suffered, but not to provide you with a windfall. It seems fair that you should give the new stuff back to the insurance company, which probably has some way to auction it to cut their losses. They may even decide that’s too much of a hassle in some cases.

I am not an insurance expert nor a lawyer.

However the facts you present seem thoroughly reasonable to me and I am certain you should let your insurance company know.
You’ve been honest - I’m sure the insurance company will be happy to have people like you as customers.

Here’s my 2 cents:
You said you’re scared to call the insurance company.
Take a copy of your policy. Take the paperwork associated with their payout.
See how much a lawyer in your area wants to give you an opinion on whether to let them know.

Thanks for the responses so far. We just got the stuff back Saturday afternoon and are still going through it so see what is missing. It is all in the garage since the house is full. So far we are certainly missing an entertainment center and lawnmower.

Part of my reluctance to call the insurance compnay is just frustration and dread. It was a pain in the ass to buy the replacement stuff. I am really not looking forward to going back to many of those places to return stuff.

Additional info for anyone interested. Our itemized list of belongings came out to about $22k. The insuance company gave us $14k. We actually bought cheaper stuff as a replacement. We had Ethan Allen living room furnitrue and Basset bedroom furniture. The new stuff is Rooms To Go and cost about half as much (what we could afford with the claim money). Plus, our puppy chewed on one of the new tables and I’m not sure it is returnable.

It is a bit of a windfall, but we have no money and a bunch of excess furniture & appliances.

Call your insurance company and explain. They will work with you. Don’t believe the old ‘Insurance companies are out to screw you’ adage.

I’m an insurance broker, but by no means an expert on claims adjustment. So I called one of my claims adjuster.:smiley:

He said that if this were his claim, he would probably just take your old stuff, minus any personal items or items that you haven’t yet replaced. YMMV.

This may or may not apply in your case, but when my best friend’s car was stolen, her insurance company paid and she used the money towards a new car. Her stolen car was recovered several states away but in good shape. The insurance compay took possession of her old car and eventually sold it. The way it was explained to her was that when they paid off on the policy, they essentially “bought” her old car from her.

I think you need to contact the insurance company and negotiate this out with them. I’m guessing that some of the stuff in your long-lost shipment is stuff you’ll want to keep (family pictures and so forth.) It does, however sound like a giant pain in the ass to have to deal with and you certainly have my sympathies on that score. Maybe the insurance company will take your new(ish) cheapie furniture and sell that and you won’t have to return it at all. Good luck!

What Ginger said.

The funny thing is, when you call the insurance company you’re likely to ruin someone’s day. Stolen stuff that the insurance company has paid for (“salvage”) belongs to the insurance company (because they have, in the process of the claim, bought it from you). But it usually isn’t recovered in the volume that you’re talking about. Someone’s gonna have a lotta work to do if they insist on processing all the salvage. :slight_smile:

In all fairness, you were given $16k to spend on new stuff to replace the missing old stuff. If you keep the old and the new stuff then you end up profiting by $16k, and that’s not right. But yours is an unusual situation and is probably not discussed at all in your policy (except inasmuch as recovered stolen property belongs to the insurer). You should call the insurance company, but don’t be afraid of 'em.

But yeah, what a pain in the ass for you! At least you got your personal (irreplacable) stuff back.

It doesn’t seem right, either, that the insurance company would take away their Ethan Allen furniture and leave them with the Rooms To Go stuff! I would feel sick if that happened to me.

I just talked to my current agent. I now have a State Farm (homeowners policy). The claim was through a different company and was for renters. My agent told me that everything in my garage that was on our itemized list is now legal property of the other insurance company.

I disagree with those who don’t think insurance companies are out to screw you. I felt screwed while going through the claim, and I feel more screwed now. I was happy the stuff was covered, but I still felt well screwed over. To be fair, I’m sure they are just following through with what they committed too and I signed.

For an example of what I felt was poor coverage…
My wife’s company agreed to let her work from home since I was moving. They bought her a brand new laptop, nice office phone, and scanner/printer (5 functions in one type device). It was all brand new and unopened. We had receipts for it dated about 10 days before the movers showed up. The insurance company took 40% of the value away as depreciation. According to them it was worth only 60% of what the receipt said even though it was unopened and 20 days past purchase.

Screwed by the movers…screwed by the insurance company…I hardly have the energy to screw my wife on either one of our king size beds…

I guess one of those is technically the insurance companies.

I think it’s worth your while to spend a few bucks on an atty. There should be some negotiating room here. Take your policy and all the claim paperwork w/ you.

Yup, you need to tell them otherwise it looks like you’re hiding something.
They technically own your old stuff but they will work with you to let you keep your personal/unique items.
Same thing with cars too, if your car gets recovered they get to keep it. You may be able to go through the car for any personal things and claim them.

This is why I changed my policy from a depreciated value pulocy to a replacement value policy. It means that even though my 900 dollar couch is 10 years old, I will get the ability to replace it with a current piece of similar quality should anything happen, instead of geting it’s “depreciated value” of about 150 bucks.

By the way, your wife’s comany should have insurance to cover the laptop. That should not have been covered under your policy. If it was, tehy should have required you to insure it for full value with a rider on your policy. Someone definitely messed up there.

I’m sorry you lost out, but don’t, for example, brand-new cars lose about 50% of their value as soon as you drive them away?

Ditto that on the computer–if it’s not yours you shouldn’t have been paid for it at all. Many policies settle on a “Replacement Cost” basis which basically means you replace your old stuff with new stuff. But even so, some types of stuff have an “Actual Cash Value” exception where you get paid the current value for the item you lost (say, $10 for that 1978 21" Zenith color TV"). Still other policies pay ACV initially and then supplement your payment to RC once you actually get the replacement item.

It gets confusing if you don’t do it every day. It’s the claim handler’s job to keep that in mind and to take the time to explain it to you when the big purple question mark pops up over your head. Sometimes what feels like a royal ass-job is really just more of a digital exam designed to keep you financially square. But if the doctor doesn’t tell you what’s going on it’s only natural to become alarmed and assume the worst. :wink:

What about the movers? Could they be sued for the difference between what their furniture was worth and what the insurance company paid out?

The situation you describe is a form of double dipping. (Yes, that is the actual term used) Your insurance company is only responsible to restore you to the position you were in before the loss. With the return of your items you have already been restored, so the insurance company doesn’t owe you anything. They would very likely have grounds to sue and come after you for what they paid. I would strongly reccommend speaking with the claims adjuster and seeing what you can work out.

Business equipment isn’t covered by your renter’s insurance, unless you have an uncommon insurance policy. The devalued amount is what it is because you bought that type of policy. You have to by a policy stating it is a full replacement policy.

They get the recovered items if they settled.

You did not get all the items back, so they should be told on some of the items were recovered. Try to make a deal to retain the items you want. The insurance company doesn’t need the merchandise. They will have to pay somebody to move it, and store it. They will then have to auction it off for what they can get. You may get a good deal. My dad remodeled his insurance agent’s building and they recovered lot’s of useless stuff. It really wasn’t usually worth the hassle to try and recover some money on household goods. Your case is of course a high value payout, so I don’t see them going keep all the old stuff for free. You did everything legally, so you don’t have to worry about anybody coming after you. Well, the computer was a mistake.