Disaster can strike anytime, anywhere.
Last year, for instance, aside from experiencing a pandemic, the U.S declared 58 disasters which caused billions of dollars in damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Especially during the aftermath of hurricanes, we learn just how many Americans lack hazard insurance. Those who did have it faced the challenge of trying to figure out how to tally up their losses. It's not easy to recall everything one owns, especially when confronting devastation. Then, there are the other losses a homeowner might face, such as those from theft and fire.
Being prepared will help to avoid delays in receiving an insurance payout should you someday face a disaster.
Dig Out your Homeowner Insurance Policy
If you're like many of us, it's still in the sealed envelope in which it arrived in the mail, shoved into a box or bin of “important papers.”
Get to know exactly what coverage you have and how to submit a claim should the unthinkable happen.
Then, create an inventory of your belongings. Many people choose an old-fashioned checklist (such as the one offered by NYCM Insurance or at Allstate.com), while others use video (narrated with the necessary information), or photographs labeled with the information that insurers require when considering a claim.
Information required by insurers:
- Each item's description and the quantity (ex: 2 sterling silver candlesticks)
- Name of the manufacturer (ex: Tiffany & Co.)
- Make/model/serial number
- The date (or estimated date) of purchase
- Where the item was purchased
- The appraised value of each item (or an estimate)
- If you can’t find the written appraisal for any item, jot down the name and contact information of the appraisal company and the date the items were appraised.
Keep your Inventory Safe
It's important to find a safe spot, off-site, to store your inventory. You may choose to store it in the cloud with a backup service or save money by backing up the information to a USB drive and then placing it in a safe deposit box.
Tips from the Experts
- The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you include possessions that are stored somewhere else (like a storage facility) in your inventory.
- Keep all receipts and copies of appraisals with your inventory.
- Keep a count of each item, such as "5 long-sleeve shirts, 7 pairs of sneakers…"
- Break your inventory-taking into chunks. If you try to do too much of it at once, you may become overwhelmed and drop the project.
Finally, run the inventory by your insurance agent to ensure that you have enough coverage. The time to get clear on your insurance coverage is before a disaster strikes.
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