An adjuster was presented with a water damage claim involving what was described as an antique 10-foot by 13-foot Heriz Rug valued at $25,000. The water damage caused the colors to run, rendering the Persian rug a total loss according to the insured’s claim.
The owner provided the adjuster with the provenance of having inherited this early 20th century rug from a family member. The owner also provided documentation of having spent several thousand dollars restoring the rug to what was described as “pristine” condition. Initial online research using the term “Heriz rug” along with the age, size and the word “pristine”, supported the $25,000 claim. Nonetheless, the adjuster had some reservations about whether or not the rug was a total loss, and called in contents claims specialist to consult on the case.
The first clue for the specialist that the value of the rug was drastically inflated was the determination the prior restoration involved “reweaving and re-coloring”. Reweaving meant the rug had structural deficiencies that had to be addressed. The re-coloring or “painting” as it is known in the trade was a huge tip off to the contents expert as to the less than pristine condition of the rug.
Persian rugs are handmade. The foundations of these rugs are threads called “warp thread” running the full length of the rug. Contrary to popular belief, the “fringe” is not added onto the ends of the rug as a decoration, the fringes are actually the exposed ends of these warp foundation threads. The weft threads are the foundation threads that run the width of the rug. The materials used for the foundation threads vary by region of origin, but they are most commonly white cotton. The foundation is essentially a thread grid upon which small pieces of differently colored dyed pile material, usually wool, are wrapped around the cotton foundation threads, and tied, or “knotted” to create the wonderful, colorful patterns we associate with this type of rug.
When a rug is said to be “thread bare,” it means wear and tear has worn down the colored wool pile, starting to expose the white foundation threads. What do some people do when a rug is this worn and the exposed white foundation threads are becoming visible and unsightly? You guessed it. They paint the area with dyes, coloring the white foundation threads to match the pile colors, in an attempt to mask the rug’s extremely worn condition.
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Fortunately the carrier and the adjuster involved in this particular case had contents specialists to handle the specialty claim and provide the expert assistance needed to recognize that the rug in question had lost its pristine condition long ago.
Contents experts secured images that confirmed the wear and tear and that painting was used to improve the appearance but not the actual condition of the rug. The images also revealed less than expert quality re-weaving and evidence that reinforcing had been glued to the back of the rug to stabilize a failing foundation. As a result, contents experts determined that preexisting conditions dictated that $7,500 would be the proper valuation for this rug rather than the total loss of $25,000 claimed.
Experts also determined that the rug, now valued at $7,500, was not a total loss. Since the rug had been painted once already, simply bleaching the area with runs and re-coloring would restore it to its pre-loss condition. In the end, $2000 covered restoration costs with no diminution of value to the insured’s Persian rug.
See also: The Case of the 20th Century Copy