Why you shouldn’t wait to make a home inventory for insurance
Imagine that all your belongings are destroyed in a house fire. Thankfully, you have insurance. But to file a claim and get reimbursed, you have to make a list of everything you lost. How many of your belongings would you be able to remember?
I tried it on a smaller scale, listing everything I could think of in my home office from memory. I came up with 51 items. Not bad, I thought — but once I returned to the room, I discovered another 25 things that I’d missed.
“All the stuff that we collect as people over the years … adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars oftentimes. And to remember all those little things is nearly impossible,” says Steve Severaid, president of The Greenspan Co./Adjusters International, a public adjusting firm serving California, Nevada and Arizona. Public insurance adjusters help policyholders negotiate fair insurance claims.
To ensure your claim payout doesn’t fall short, consider creating a survey of your belongings, often called a home inventory.
The benefits of a home inventory
In the aftermath of a disaster, you’ll likely be grieving the loss of your home, looking for a temporary place to live and struggling to figure out what’s next. Aside from helping you get full reimbursement for your possessions, having a home inventory can lighten your burden during a stressful time.
“Is it hard to [make an inventory] now? Yeah,” says Katherine Navarro Wong, a State Farm agency owner in Santa Rosa, California. “But after you’ve lost everything, it’s really hard.”
Because you’ve already done most of the work, having a home inventory in place makes it easier and quicker to file your claim, Wong says. “You’ll get your money faster.”
Putting together your inventory can also help you make sure you have enough insurance coverage. You might not realize just how much your stuff is worth until you start documenting it all, Wong says. Then, if you discover that your personal property coverage isn’t enough, you’ll have time to increase your limit before disaster strikes.
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