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Before and after cleaning. There may be there may be some high-value items for which cleaning and restoration is a priority. The photo on the left shows the fire-damaged purse, and the photo on the right shows how it was cleaned and restored. (Photo: Esporta)

In the aftermath of a loss, policyholders and insurers face a quandary. When confronting the devastation wrought by fire or flood, they have to decide what happens next.

Policyholders are often under the mistaken impression that they will be allowed to replace all of their possessions after a loss. However, the duty of the insurer is to indemnify the insured, within the limits of the coverage provided by their policy. In most cases replacement would be prohibitively expensive, leaving a serious gap between the expectations of the insured, policy limits and the reality they are faced with at the end of the claim.

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