Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Home Inventory - Do You Know What You Own?

It sounds like a pretty easy question which should have an easy "yes" for an answer, but reports show that people who have a total loss at their home (ie. a fire) often find that they are unable to replace everything they own. The problems, they either cannot remember everything they have or they do not have everything properly covered, can both be solved with a simple home inventory and an annual review with their insurance agent. Here is what the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association has to say about home inventories:

"Before a catastrophe strikes and you're faced with a loss, make a home inventory - lists, pictures or a videotape of the contents of your home. After all, would you be able to remember all the possessions you've accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a fire? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.
According to a 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), more than half of Americans don't have a home inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage, should severe weather strike.
  • Survey results show 59 percent of consumers have not made a list or inventory of their possessions. Of those individuals with a home inventory, 48 percent do not have receipts; 27 percent do not have photos of their property; and 28 percent do not have a back-up copy of the inventory outside the home.
  • Additionally, 59 percent of people with inventories have not updated their inventories in more than a year, meaning new purchases and gifts may not be covered.
Taking Inventory
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals.
  • For clothing, count the items you own by category pants, coats, shoes, for example - making notes about those that are especially valuable.
  • For major appliances and electronic equipment, record their serial numbers usually found on the back or bottom.
Don't be overwhelmed! If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you've been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it's better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases and then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
Big ticket items: Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately.
Take a picture: Besides the list, you can take pictures of rooms and important individual items. On the back of the photos note what is shown, where you bought each item, and the make. Don't forget things that are in closets or drawers.
Videotape it: Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or, do the same thing using a tape recorder.
Use a personal computer: Use your PC to make your inventory list. Personal finance software packages often include a homeowners room-by-room inventory program.
Storing the list, photos and tapes: Regardless of how you do it (written list, floppy disk, photos, videotape or audio tape), keep your inventory along with receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. That way you'll be sure to have something to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind."

To download a home inventory that can be printed and filled out, click here: HOME INVENTORY.
You can also use a FREE online tool from the Insurance Information Institute that will allow you to create a free account and use an online inventory OR download the app for your phone and take pictures of your stuff and attach it to your inventory. You can access the tool by clicking here: Know Your Stuff

If you're going to pay for insurance, you may as well make sure it does what it is intended to do, make you whole after a loss by replacing or repairing your property that is damaged or destroyed. One of the best ways to make sure that happens is by having a home inventory and meeting with your insurance agent every 12-24 months for a quick coverage review. If you've not reviewed your policy in a while, even if we are not the company you use, please make an apointment with us today so we can make sure you'd be okay - financially - if your home was destroyed. Call us at 685-8585 for a Professional Insurance Review.