You’ve returned home to find a frenzied scene of fire engines, billowing black smoke and what seems to be an endless sea of firefighters surrounding your home. No one in your family is physically hurt. But emotionally, the wounds run very deep.
It’s a hard thing to think about… the loss of your most valued possessions, family heirlooms, artwork, childhood memorabilia, photo albums — all due to a house fire. There is nothing that can be done to change the fact that you must start over. To help with that transition is your homeowners insurance policy.
Chances are you don’t think about your insurance until you need it. Tragic events, like a house fire, are never expected but it is a good idea to prepare now to minimize the impact of a potential tragedy should it occur. Creating a home inventory will greatly assist you should you have a claim in the future.
Your Homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for loss or damage to your personal property due to fire and other perils covered by the policy. To expedite the claim process, you should consider documenting the property you own.
The answer? Take time to do a Personal Property Inventory. Documenting what you own will greatly assist you in the claims process. There are a couple of ways you can go about documenting your property. First, you can manually write down what is contained in each room, in the garage, and in any outbuilding through the help of a Personal Property Inventory Guide (available from your insurance company or agent). This guide will contain important information, such as the purchase date and price of the items. When completed, the information should be kept in a safe place such as a safe deposit box.
Another option is to use your smart phone or video recording device to record a video of your property. Simply walk through each room, panning the camera to record all the contents. Use a voice-over to relay details such as manufacturer, serial number, date of purchase, etc. Be sure to keep as many receipts as you can with your inventory. When finished, it is best to upload your video to a secure online location. And remember to update your inventory from time to time.
To determine exactly what to document, consider the following:
- All of your expensive electronic items (stereo, VCR, camcorder, TV, camera and computer equipment) may be prone to theft.
- Expensive items such as silverware, jewelry, fine china, collectibles, art, furs, artifacts, antiques, book and collections.
- Other expensive items not likely to be stolen, but could require replacement following a fire: refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, air conditioner, furnace, hot water heater and bench tools.
- Wall-to-wall carpeting, expensive clothing, sports equipment, mowers, mirrors and musical instruments.
Remember, what is out of sight is often out of mind. So be sure to take the time to consider what valuable items you own and document the relevant information about those items. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.
Information provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.