Spring Cleaning: Why You Need A Home Inventory NOW

Why You Need A Home Inventory…Now.

It is much easier to put together a Home Inventory before the disaster instead of afterwards.

Remember that brand-new t.v. you got for Christmas? The new stereo? Or the jewelry your husband bought you for Valentine's Day? Wouldn't it be a shame if you lost these expensive items to a house fire, flood, or windstorm? What about if you lost these items to an opportunistic thief? What if your insurance company couldn't cover you for these items, or couldn't cover the whole cost, because you didn't know what exactly you had?

A 2008 survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) found that 48 percent of U.S. consumers did not have a list of their possessions.

It's easier to double check your insurance coverage's limits, and list your possessions, before a fire has ruined everything in your home, or a spring flood as sent them own the river. When a disaster like this occurs, you have more important things to deal with than writing down what you think you had in your home when the insurance adjuster arrives. Many people also mistakenly assume that homeowners insurance covers them in the event of a flood; it does not.

This spring we would like to challenge you to call your insurance agent, whether you're insured with us or another agent, to be sure of your coverages. After a disaster, an insurance adjuster is going to bring you a piece of paper and a pencil and ask you to write down what was in the home. This is when you will wish you had a home inventory list. Even if you rent, having such a list ready to hand the adjuster can speed up the processing of your insurance claim by days, and having receipts takes the guess-work out of valuing your items.

Taking pictures can also be handy because it can show the brand and model. Some homeowners or renters shoot video as they focus on an item, describe it, and make a note of the brand, model, number, serial number, and what was paid for each item. Serial numbers can be especially valuable in the event of recovering stolen (and sometimes irreplaceable items) after a theft. Also remember your commonly overlooked belongings such as clothing. Even someone who buys second-hand or thrifty can have thousands of dollars in clothes and shoes sitting in their closet.

Once you've made your list, don't forget to update it when you buy that new TV or bedroom set.

Tips for taking inventory of home possessions:

• Document each item as completely as possible, including brand and model number.
• Include receipts and/or cancelled checks to prove what you paid for items.
• Remember to include items you don't use regularly, such as holiday decorations, sports equipment or tools.
• Review your insurance policy to know what is covered and whether your possessions are insured for actual cash value (the amount it would take to replace or repair the item minus any depreciation) or for replacement cost (the amount it would take to repair or replace the item without deducting for depreciation).
• For rare or valuable items such as jewelry, antiques or art, you may want to consider adding additional insurance—a rider—to your policy.
• Keep the completed list outside of your home. Store it at your office, a family member's house or safe-deposit box.
• Update the list annually, or each time you add a more expensive item.
• A free and simple home inventory software program is available from the Insurance Information Institute.