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.
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.