7 juiciest stories about insurance claims

The not-350-year-old piano
The not-350-year-old piano © gashgeron/

The life of a high-end claims adjuster is part "Antiques Roadshow," part private detective and part U.N. diplomat -- especially when it's time to break some very bad news to a valued homeowner.

Jay Straughan, vice president of claims for Enservio, a contents inventory and valuation service based in Needham, Mass., recalls the subtle way his boss sidestepped being the bearer of bad news following a fire.

"The insured was sitting in his living room with his contractor, telling us how expensive his 350-year-old piano was. My boss, who had inspected the piece, diplomatically asked the contractor to look underneath the piano where the soundboard would have been," Straughan says.

"'What kind of wood is that?' my boss asked him. 'Well, that's OSB' (or oriented strand board), the contractor replied. 'So when did they start producing oriented strand board?' my boss asked. The contractor replied, 'Well, it was in the 20th century.' You can imagine the look on the insured's face after telling us this thing is 350 years old when, at most, it was a few decades old.

"When the value difference is tens of thousands of dollars, it requires a lot of diplomacy," Straughan adds.


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