In last September’s newsletter I recounted how the lack of a home inventory made it impossible for me to make an insurance claim for a theft, which happened during my move in November 2014. Additionally, the police were unable to investigate because I had no proof of ownership. I concluded my newsletter with a commitment to readers that I would put together a home inventory and update them on my progress.
Fast-forward to today; despite plenty of procrastinating, I am happy to report that my home inventory is just about complete! While this was a time-consuming process, it was also an educational one. Here are some lessons I learned:
Read your insurance policy. Do you know what is covered by your insurance policy? Well, I didn’t, so on my way back from Mexico this summer I started reading it. Fortunately, it is written in mostly plain English, not legalese, which made it easier to understand. If your policy is difficult to understand, meet with your agent and have it explained to you. Interesting fact: I am entitled to receive up to $500 for food that is lost during a power outage. Wish I had known that after the Derecho hit us in the summer of 2012.
Prepare a home inventory. If you suffer a catastrophic loss and you don’t have a home inventory, you will need to compile a list of everything you owned for the insurance company. Watch this video, “KSC Safety and Health: Faith Chandler on Enduring a Catastrophic Loss.” If this doesn’t get you going on your home inventory, nothing will.
Take pictures not videos. If you’re in a hurry to record your possessions, fine, take a video; but be warned. Insurance companies want pictures because they can’t get the same kind of detail from a video that they can get from photos.
Photograph everything. If you are a renter, take photos of your personal property (everything that belongs to you). If you are a homeowner, take pictures of personal property, as well as the physical structure of the house, inside and out, upstairs and downstairs. Include doors, cabinets, windows, light fixtures, flooring, stairs, handrails, etc.
Save your receipts. Keep all your receipts for major purchases, as well as those for major home improvements. Also keep receipts for high-end items.
Appraise your valuables. If you have artwork, antiques, jewelry, etc., have them appraised by an expert. Your insurance policy may not cover the full value of these items, so you may need a rider.
Don’t forget medical equipment and prescriptions. I spoke with someone whose disabled son lost everything due to a gas explosion. While his truck was covered by auto insurance the modifications made to the truck for his disability were not covered. If your prescription medication is expensive, include that as well.
Replacement value of your house is not the same as market value. Make sure your house is insured enough to cover the costs of rebuilding it should it be destroyed.
Home Inventory software is available on the cloud, for your computer or your phone. Do your research before you buy. Make sure you take into account the security (256-bit encryption), technical support, capacity to export or produce reports. Also remember to check when the software program was last updated.
If you would like more information on preparing your home inventory, give me a call!