Article By Allison Hanks, Leavitt Group
Losing your home to fire can be very devastating. Not only does your home contain many valuable items, it is also a place where memories are built over a lifetime. While insurance can’t replace memories, it can help you get your life back to where you were before the fire. Maintaining a current home inventory can help in this process.
In the summer of 2013, several major wildfires affected our clients. Some of our clients could do nothing but watch from a distance as their homes were engulfed in flames. Others were lucky enough to just have the fire touch the edges of their property resulting in some smoke damage and burned fences but nothing more. One of the things each of these clients had in common was they all had insurance. As the insurance adjusters were assessing the scenes, each client was given a huge list to complete so the insurance company could start paying them for their damaged belongings and property.
Before you find yourself in a situation where you are left standing in the ashes of your home, your head buzzing with the destruction around you, it is best to have an idea of what exactly is kept inside your home so you have one less thing to deal with while rebuilding your life. I recommend you have both a visual and written inventory of your personal belongings.
Draft a written list of your items.
First, draft a written list of your items. Go room to room and write down exactly what you have. Include descriptions of all furniture, electronics, and appliances. Be descriptive with each item’s information. If you have receipts on file, make note of the date and value of the item when you bought it. If you have serial numbers for your appliances or electronics, make note of those as well.
Do a photo or video journal of your belongings.
Second, do a photo or video journal of your belongings much like you do with the written list and include copies of any receipts that you might have. Send this along with the written list directly to your insurance agent. Your agent can keep this information on file in their office should you have anything disastrous happen to your home or computer, thus causing you to lose the data. If you prefer, you can also use online/mobile software to track your inventory.
Schedule high-value items on your policy.
Third, schedule high-value items on your policy. This will help ensure a better chance of getting the full value of those items. Items you should schedule, rather than lumping into your general personal property coverage, include high-value jewelry, guns, artwork, collectibles, and antiques. Scheduling items is usually much more affordable than you would think and definitely worth the cost when you are faced with a major loss to your home. I have one client in particular who has over $100,000 in artwork in their home. They have binders cataloging the types of art they have, the artist of each piece, the value of each piece, etc. They brought the binders into my office and I scanned each page into their file so that if the unthinkable happens they will have a record off-site that details exactly what their artwork consisted of. This will make their lives much easier if they suffer a huge loss.