As human beings, we have a natural tendency to collect stuff. Not intentional "collecting" but accumulating. For many of us, the first time we come realize how many material possessions we actually own occurs during our first move into a new house or apartment. What initially seemed like an easy, afternoon task of wrapping dishes and knick-knacks and packing more than likely turned into a case of wonderment ending with the statement, "Where in the world did all this stuff come from?"
There, before you, sits years of your life. A visual representation of the things you have purchased with your hard-earned dollars. Unfortunately, there are some of us each year that may lose some or all of our possessions when tragedy strikes in the form of fire, burglary, or natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding. In such an event, the most important concern is the safety of the family members. Once that worry is eliminated, attention turns to insurance claims and an attempt to recover property losses so you and your family can start rebuilding your life and your home.
But remember your accumulation of personal belongings? If they were suddenly gone, how accurate would you be in listing them all (along with approximate values) in order to submit an complete claim to your insurance company? Unless you are gifted with a photographic memory, recreating such a list could be a daunting task. For that reason, taking the time to create a home inventory is a great way to protect yourself and your years of investment should an unfortunate event cause you to have to start over.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) describes a home inventory as a list of all of your possessions, describing each item and noting where it was purchased and its make and model number. Including sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals can also prove beneficial should you ever need to make an insurance claim. For items such as clothing, the III suggests counting the number of items you own by category (shoes, dresses, shirts, coats, etc.) and making special notations on any items that are particularly valuable.
When you decide to undertake the project of compiling a home inventory, the III recommends the following steps to simplify the process and help get you started:
When your home inventory is complete, make a number of copies. Make both hard (paper) copies and digital copies (on CDs or DVDs)—including your list of details and any pictures you have captured. Keep one copy of your home inventory handy in your home and store another copy of your home inventory in another location such as a safety deposit box or a friend or relative's house. By doing so, you will be able to quickly get a copy of your home inventory for insurance purposes in the unfortunate event that your home copy is lost due to fire, flood, or natural disaster.
The Federal Citizen Information Center recommends the III's free, downloadable home inventory software package to make creating a home inventory fast and easy. The program is available for download at www.knowyourstuff.org.
Your home inventory is a constantly changing thing. Each day new items appear and disappear. To keep the workload to a minimum and to keep your home inventory up-to-date and accurate, establish a regular schedule and take an hour to update your files with descriptions and photographs of your most recent additions for a period of time (a week or month). Don't forget to generate a new version of your complete home inventory and replace your home copy as well as your safe copy held elsewhere outside your home.
The process of creating a home inventory can appear to be a big job, but with a little organization, some help from family members, and some spare time in the evenings or on a weekend, you can give yourself and your family additional peace-of-mind. If disaster should strike, you'll be a step ahead and will be able to supply your insurance company with the details needed to put you on the road to restoring your life to normal.
As with any insurance issues, consult with your insurance professional for details pertaining to your particular family situation and insurance needs.
Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.