First off, you need to take into consideration the item and its value to the homeowner.
For instance, if the homeowner is adamant that they don’t want to keep bed pillows after a fire and they only cost $6 a piece, don’t sweat it. Log it “destroyed” and move on, even if you know you can wash them.
However if the item is a 65” flat screen TV, then you will need to handle this carefully. It is your job to determine what can and cannot be salvaged on a job but, it’s not your job to determine what the insurance company is going to replace or not.
If you feel you can return this item in question to pre-loss condition, then talk with the homeowner and explain how and why. Sometimes just educating them on the processes that we use settles their concerns and solves the problem. If they still feel determined to have the item replaced once you have given your explanation, then it’s time to talk with your adjuster and let him or her make the decision.
Often times, an adjuster will replace something even though you tell them it can be restored because they may feel that it’s just not worth upsetting the homeowners over. If it’s an expensive item like a 65” TV, they may take the item back from the homeowners after paying for its replacement and then sell it off as salvage to recoup some of their costs.
It really isn't our battle. It’s between the adjuster and the insured. Be careful about getting caught in the middle, as that can be one slippery slope to try to walk on.
The other thing I want to mention here is that I find most homeowners to be genuine. However, there are those that feel like they won the lottery when they have a loss in their home and think it’s a ticket to a house full of new stuff. If you see this begin, then you may want to have a conversation with your adjuster. This is especially true if it starts to impede you doing your job.