Personal Effects: Why Incidents are Never Really Over

Thursday, June 25, 2020

By Iwan Witt, Kenyon Operations Manager

Kenyon is often the custodian of personal effects following an incident, particularly for long-term storage. By providing this service, our Clients are assured that items are stored with Kenyon staff, ready to process any subsequent claims. Doing this also ensures that Clients don’t have to manage the personal effects. For many, the personal effects are a reminder of the tragedy, and because of their link to their former owners or survivors, they can be difficult and stressful to work with.

Many worldwide family assistance laws include mandates for the duration personal effects must be stored. Clients operating to and from the US, for example, must retain any recovered personal effects for a minimum of 18 months. From experience, it typically takes at least 24 months for all processing and claims to be completed, this is very much dependant on the circumstances of an incident and the family relationships of the survivors and next of kin.

A great example of this is a loss suffered in 2015. Following the incident, Kenyon processed the personal effects recovered from a crash site and returned them to the families of those involved.

By early 2017, the process of returning personal effects had been completed and we had moved to the storage phase of operations. In 2019, several claims were made for mobile phones belonging to those involved in the crash after the procurement of IMEI numbers (unique reference numbers found on mobile phones) from mobile phone boxes and mobile phone operators. An additional claim was filed as recently as May 2020, following a family’s discovery of another phone box. Unfortunately, in this instance the IMEI number did not match any of the phones recovered.

These experiences put into perspective the time that it can take for families to recover the relevant information needed to complete claims but they also highlight how important personal effects are to families. Electronic storage devices, where there is an increased prospect of recovering data, have an especially profound impact.

While it lengthens timeframes, Kenyon makes sure to record details such as IMEI numbers during personal effects processing to help facilitate claims and, ultimately, allow for claimed items to be returned as efficiently as possible. Remember, for the families involved, an incident is never over, which is why attention to detail during the personal effects recovery process and long-term storage is integral.