There are many challenges when it comes to property insurance and for restoration companies when they have to put a client’s home back into the way it was prior to a loss. But what happens when that client happens to be hoarding?
Hoarding is the act when one has an obsessive, compulsive need to keep every thing they’ve had in their lifetime, thereby cluttering up their living space with items which end up having no practical use. This can end up getting to unmanageable extremes, as evidenced in the video below:
According to this blog post, some of the risks associated with homes occupied by hoarders include water damage, mold growth, structural damage, and increased trip and fall hazards for anyone visiting the hoarder, such as their family members.
For example, if there is a leak in the kitchen, but the kitchen is so filled with “stuff,” the inhabitants can’t see where the water’s accumulating. This could result in a large claim for water damage to the home, as well as to the insured’s possessions.
Hoarding can also make it quite challenging for insurers to do their job when their clients happen to be hoarders. When the need arises to restore the client’s belongings to their previous state, besides their standard examination of exclusions and following underwriting practices, insurance companies also have to look at whether items were damaged by accident or by neglect, if the contents impaired the structural integrity of the dwelling and if the loss was exacerbated by the hoarding.
It is best to involve family members in the process when it comes to sorting out a hoarder’s belongings in the event of damage to their home, as it involves more than just sorting through “stuff”; you may have to deal with handling the emotional well being of the hoarder especially if they have trouble parting with their possessions.