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Prepare a Home Inventory BEFORE a Home Crisis

Posted by Scott A. Staples | Sep 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

You don't have to worry about identifying missing or destroyed property if your home is victimized or damaged if you prepare for such an emergency

Although the vast majority of our work on insurance claims involves bodily injuries suffered by our clients, Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards also assists clients in other types of loss claims. That includes burglary and fire loss cases. It's easy to think these things will never happen to you-until they do. It's all too common. And the last thing you need to deal with after a fire loss or break-in is further trauma or additional feelings of violation caused by fighting with an insurance company who questions whether you actually owned the things you say you did, or whether their value is what you claim it is.

Yes, it's one more thing to do. But it will likely save you a lot of headache in the event of a loss: document your possessions with a home inventory. A good article walking you through ways to go about doing that can be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website,  To summarize the article:

  • Make a list of your possessions, everything from valuable art, jewelry, or electronics, to toys, clothing, holiday decorations, and sports equipment.
  • Attach to your list copies of sales receipts, appraisal documents, or other documentation showing when you bought it and for how much.
  • Note serial numbers and bar codes (photos of the same would be even better).
  • Photograph each item and add a brief description the age, purchase price, and estimated current value.
  • Group your list into logical categories or by room of the house.
  • Store your inventory in a safe, safe deposit box, or other secure place (more than one copy is a good idea, of course).
  • Review your inventory annually or whenever you make a significant purchase, and update it accordingly.

You can use this convenient App to prepare a home inventory.

As with anything these days, there's an app for that! The Insurance Commissioners recommend the free myHOME Scr.APP.book for iPhone. A simply printable checklist is also available on the Commissioner's website. Undoubtedly, by now other apps are available on multiple platforms to make things easier.

An added benefit when you prepare a home inventory is that it can help you identify whether you have high enough limits on your homeowner's or renter's policy to cover the loss of certain categories of possessions. Do you have $15,000 in jewelry? Your policy may have a $2,500 limit on jewelry coverage, unless you add a special endorsement for additional coverage. This is true even if the overall coverage number on the front of your policy makes it seem like you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in coverage for the contents of your home. Other examples of limited standard coverages may be found for items like electronics, art, or any number of other things. Be sure to read your policy and talk to your agent about whether you have enough coverage.

A little headache now can save you a huge headache later.

About the Author

Scott A. Staples

Scott Staples came on board in 2006 as a clerk during law school, and joined the firm as an associate attorney in 2007. He was made a shareholder in the firm in 2010. Scott graduated, cum laude, from Washington State University Vancouver with a BA in English, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, with cum laude honors there as well. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of different types of injury cases, including auto collisions, premises liability, animal attacks, watercraft accidents, and construction site injuries. He has appeared, and won, before the Washington State Supreme Court (Weismann v. Safeco, 2012). Scott has volunteered time for the past several years at the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Housing Justice Project. He has previously served on the new member and membership committees for the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and has acted as chair and co-chair of the WSAJ Clark County Roundtable. He is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar Associations, WSAJ and OTLA (state trial lawyer organizations), and is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Washington and Oregon. Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, attending Vancouver public schools and graduating from Hudson's Bay High School. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and softball, skiing, and spending time with his wife and three children.

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