Could you list and accurately value all your personal property from memory? If you needed to file an insurance claim, how would you prove your loss?
The best way to protect yourself is to make a complete inventory of all your possessions. A written description should include the date of acquisition, original cost, and any improvements. Serial numbers, if available, should be recorded, and any receipts should be attached to the list. To make the task more manageable, tackle one room at a time. Be sure to include items that may be stored in closets or storage facilities.
If you have a camcorder or cellphone with video recording capabilities, you can create additional documentation of your home and belongings for insurance purposes. This record, which can be used as evidence in case of theft, fire, or damage, should include the following:
- A complete scan of all rooms in your house, the outside grounds, the attic, the basement, and the garage.
- Close-ups of all valuable items such as artwork, jewelry, and antiques. Be sure to zoom in on serial numbers of stereos, television sets, and other electronic appliances.
- Audio commentary of details that may not be visible.
If you don’t have a camcorder, there are companies that can do the recording for you. Ask your friends and associates for recommendations of reputable companies. Never allow an unknown individual to record your belongings.
Also, consider using your camera or cellphone and recording a combination of still photos and videos even if the videos taken on these devices are somewhat limited compared to those made with a camcorder.
Store the SD card or removable flash memory (which holds the digital images created by your camcorder) along with your comprehensive written list, in a safe place away from home, such as a locked file cabinet at your office or your bank safe-deposit box. For extra safety, you may want to make copies and store them in separate locations.
Once you have established a complete inventory, it should be fairly easy to do periodic updating. Finally, be aware that visual documentation alone may not be enough to prove the loss of valuable items. Contact one of our qualified insurance professionals for additional suggestions on how to best protect your possessions.