CABOR Says Create a Home Inventory for Insurance
Create a home inventory before disaster strikes to make filing an insurance claim a smoother process, according to Joanne Zettl, Chairwoman of the Cleveland Area Board of REALTORS® (CABOR).
Do not rely on your memory to keep track of your possessions. Create an inventory so you can know what is missing if you ever need to file a claim.
Experiencing a theft, flood, fire, or other casualty loss is devastating enough. Now imagine trying to list from memory for your insurance claim every single item that was damaged or destroyed. The task becomes less daunting if you create a home inventory in advance and keep it in a safe place.
Creating a home inventory can be done with pencil and paper alone, but a digital camera and camcorder make the job easier. Set aside enough time to review your insurance policies, dig up receipts, document your possessions, and figure out where you will store your records.
A home inventory is essential and includes: Appliances, plates and glasses to collectibles, rugs and furniture. The average home is packed with an array of items collected over the years. And while you may be able to list many of them in a pinch, chances are you would miss some important possessions if you ever needed to reconstruct your home’s contents from memory, says Zettl.
But, your job does not end once you have compiled a home inventory. Be sure to compare estimated values to your policy’s coverage to ensure that you will be able to replace your belongings in case of damage or theft. Purchase additional coverage if the value of your possessions exceeds the limits on your home owners, flood, or other disaster policy.
Take photos and video of possessions
A picture can be worth more than a thousand words–it can add up to thousands in cash if you ever need to file an insurance claim. Using a digital camcorder or camera, take pictures of each room to document your belongings.
Home owners can literally walk from room-to-room and record narrative descriptions of items. You should note whether something is an antique, for example, or if it has other qualities that make it especially valuable such as the size of a television screen or the type of stones in a piece of jewelry. Get close-up shots of serial numbers on electronics, power tools and the like.
Filling in a printed checklist with serial numbers, brands, quantities and estimated values will prove indispensable if an insurance claim ever needs to be filed. The adjuster will likely ask for such a list and you can use the video or photos as proof of ownership.
Keep your home inventory safe
Of course, such documentation is useless if it is destroyed in a natural disaster, consumed by fire, or stolen along with your personal computer. Be sure to store the files on online backup services like Carbonite.com or iBackup.com in case your home is destroyed.
If you would like to save the $10 or more per month these services typically cost, you could also save the files on a USB (thumb) drive that is kept in a safe-deposit box, at a relative’s home, or in your emergency bag. The bag should include essentials your family needs in case you are forced to flee on short notice.
It is also a good idea to keep a file with receipts and any appraisals of valuable items you own. Store these documents off-site as well. Remember, the more documentation you have to prove what you owned and what it was worth, the easier the claims process will be.
And remember, if you are thinking about buying or selling a home, contact a REALTOR® professional.