Is a “home inventory” important when you have a claim on your home insurance?
Probably. Absolutely! Close your eyes and try to remember everything in your living room. Chances are, you’re going to forget a few things, don’t you think?
Now, imagine trying to remember everything in your entire home after it’s been destroyed in a fire or storm. This will take the level of difficulty up a notch.
When you file a claim on your home insurance for the loss of your belongings, you will have to go though the process of giving an inventory of the things you are wanting the insurance to pay for. Good times, huh? (Insert eye roll, here.)
If you’re like me, creating a home inventory list sounds about as exciting as picking lint out of the dryer vent.
I’m pretty good at buying stuff and carrying it in the house, garage, attic, and eventually the trash can. But keeping meticulous records of all of my purchases of “stuff” is definitely something that doesn’t occur, let alone appeal to me.
What should be on your home inventory?
“Your Stuff”: This is my technical term for things like your lawnmower, television, furniture, clothes, appliances, and all the other nick-knacks that adorn your walls, coffee table, and junk drawer.
Your home insurance policy has an official name for your stuff. It’s called Personal Property.
Filing a home insurance claim because of a fire, storm, or theft is usually a stressful time. Adding to your elevated blood pressure is the request to recall the details and value of your damaged or stolen stuff. This will make most people freak out a little bit.
The good news is most insurance companies are fairly patient through these catastrophes and they can help people piece together their list.
Let me point this out here, not every kind of loss is covered by your home insurance, I have a great blog about it. Check it out here.
What types of events can damage your property making a Home Inventory necessary?
Storm claims are, by far, the most common claim an Oklahoma homeowner will go through. No surprise there, right?
What may surprise you is, typically a storm claim is not an emergency. Of course, if a storm rips through your house, giving you a front-row seat to nature’s wrath and puts you on the 6 o’clock news retelling your survivor story, that’s an emergency.
The fact is, most storm damage is contained to your roof and property, but your daily life and routine are not dramatically interrupted. You won’t have to move into a hotel because most of the damage is on the outside, not the inside of your house. Personal property damage is usually minimal.
Make no mistake. A storm claim, like any insurance claim, is a hassle. It’s a disruption. But it’s rarely a life-changer.
If you are one who has had the life-changing storm that destroyed your home, you can attest to the helpfulness a home inventory would have provided.
What about the other home insurance claims? They usually are emergencies.
Whether it’s a leaking water line in the slab of your house, an overflowing tub, or a broken water heater tank, water leaking in your house is an emergency.
A water claim is stressful in ways a storm claim isn’t.
The water usually has to be shut off. So, you may be spending a few nights in a hotel. But it will be no vacation. The disruption to your daily routine will be unavoidable.
Water can damage and even destroy your stuff. An inventory of your home contents will be important because, in the effort to clean up the mess, people will begin throwing out things without thinking about the need to account for them for the insurance claim.
A fire claim really can be an emergency. It could result in the total loss of your home along with all the stuff in it. Often, house fires are contained and extinguished before destroying the house. But the smoke damage in addition to the water damage from the fire department dousing the flames, can leave behind a significant amount of damage to the house and obviously, your stuff.
Identification of something that has been reduced to a pile of ash can be impossible. Obviously, an inventory that can survive a fire is as important as the inventory itself.
In my 18 years as an insurance agent, I’ve found theft losses to be some of the most stressful for homeowners. Not because of the cost of repairs or the loss of their stuff. From a financial standpoint, most theft claims result in losses that are less than $5,000.
Thefts are stressful because someone has broken into your house, rummaged through your personal items, and taken things that matter to you on a personal level. Usually jewelry, guns, and electronics. Things you may have received as a gift, heirloom, or bought yourself for enjoyment. This can leave many people afraid to come home or go to sleep in their own house.
Your peace of mind can’t be replaced by your insurance policy after a theft. Money can’t buy that.
The need for a home inventory may seem the most obvious in a theft claim. After all your stuff isn’t damaged and laying on the floor. IT’S GONE.
*THEFT COVERAGE FINE PRINT*
Every home and renter’s insurance policy has special limitations on coverage for certain types of personal property.
- Jewelry, Guns, and Computers are just a few of the things that have a limited amount of coverage.
This is why reviewing your insurance policy is important.
My recommendation to every renter and homeowner is to purchase a small safe (or a big one). Put your most valuable things in it. A burglar might kick your door in, but this could prevent them from taking your really important and personally valuable stuff.
Okay. I’ve convinced you of your need for a home inventory, right? Now comes the action step. What is the best way to create your inventory? It can be easier than you might imagine.
My recommendation for creating your home inventory?
This handy invention of the 21st century really leaves us with no excuse for not having a basic home inventory. We live in the digital age, take advantage of it.
There are several apps for your smartphone you can find, such as Sortly, that give you a lot of tools to document and track the items you have and buy. More importantly, you have a “digital filing cabinet” you can go to and retrieve them in an emergency.
If you don’t want to get that detailed, just turn your phone to “video” mode and walk around your house filming your stuff. You can even give a commentary on each item if the mood strikes you. Your phone allows you to shoot video even in those hard-to-reach places, like the attic. Hey, throw in some selfies with your stuff if you want. Then save and email the video to yourself, a trusted family member, or even your insurance agent.
Seriously, this documentation will prove very valuable if/when you have a claim. It will help you show what was there. It will also help your claim adjuster see what you had. Depending on your memory, verbal generalizations, and hand gestures to describe your stuff may not be the exact science you hope it is.
I would welcome the opportunity to help you create an accurate and efficient plan to protect your family and the assets you’ve worked hard for. Call our office at 405-340-0606 and we’ll get started.
Or, complete the form below and we’ll reach out to you.