Let’s imagine a worst case scenario where your home has completely burnt to the ground or has been carried away by the winds of a tornado. You are sitting in a hotel room reeling from the shock of your personal catastrophe, when the insurance adjustor asks you to fill out the proof of loss paperwork. Your numb mind is blank as you look at the form where you have to itemize everything that had been in your home. Could you do it? Right now, without opening drawers and looking into your closets would you be able to list all of your household belongings? Unfortunately, the answer, for most of us, is probably not.
Cataloging your belongings may seem like an arduous task. However, think of the peace of mind you will gain after the process is done. That will be one less point of stress should the unthinkable occur to your family home.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating your inventory:
• Start by writing a complete inventory of all of your belongings room-by-room. There are software programs designed to walk you through the process. Here is a review site of the top ten readily available programs. If you are comfortable having a listing of your household items on the cloud, apps and online versions are also available.
• When compiling your list of belongings make sure to include the name of each item, quantity, description, brand or model, serial number (if applicable) and when and where an item was bought, if known.
• As you purchase a new item keep the receipt, as further evidence that you owned the item.
• Get a professional appraisal done of items like artwork, jewelry, antiques, and silverware.
• Use a digital camera to record (photographs and/or video) the items in your home. Make sure to take close-ups from all angles of the more important items and include a ruler in the image to given some indication of the size of the item.
• For the best photo quality, keep these pointers in mind. Photograph the items in natural light, if possible. Keep the background plain. Watch for glare on glass items and change the camera angle to minimize the amount of glare, as needed. Be aware when doing a close-up of an item that sometimes you can get too close and the photo can become too fuzzy to be useful.
• Once the digital inventory is complete, be sure to make backup copies of the files. Put the files onto digital storage options such as a CD-ROM, a memory card, or a USB flash drive.
• If not using a cloud-based inventory capture option, make sure to store your inventory documents (paper files as well as whatever digital storage option you chose) away from your home in a secure place, like a safe deposit box at your bank, or a trusted relative. To be prepared for a city-wide catastrophe, consider having one set of backup files locally and another in a city farther away from your home.
• Update the inventory record every 3-5 years to reflect items that have been added or deleted from your household.
As always, the Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency is here serving you today and protecting your tomorrows.
Image Credit: Colin Kinnear