by Peter Andersen
August 6, 2014
The goal of any insurance policy in the event of a claim is to “make whole” the insured. The concept is that your insurance should put you back to the way you were before you had the loss – not better off, and not worse off – the same. The devil is in the details, however – how do you recreate the way you were at the time of the loss? How do you tell your insurance carrier exactly what was lost, and in what condition it was? How do you show them the valuables that were stolen, or the quality of the workmanship after a fire or flood or theft?
Q. How do you show your insurance carrier what needs replacement after the loss rendered the item unrecognizable, lost or stolen?
A. You have video and Inventory of your possessions BEFORE the loss!
If you want to protect yourself from a future claim, prepare today for the unthinkable. There are two key things you can do ahead of time to make your life easier after a loss: take videos and pictures, and make an inventory.
Your phone likely has an amazing camera and video camera. Take a walking tour video of your house, describing each item as you video it. Break the video up into rooms, and save each individually, making it easier to find a particular item. Take pictures and videos of valuables, those items that will be harder or more expensive to replace. One of a kind items? These are the most important items to document, and they should be listed on your Valuable Articles policy (as discussed in our blog from Monday). Still, collect details on these items as well – the appraisal, where and when you purchased it, price, and pictures or images of the object.
These videos and pictures will often auto backup to the web, but you should always manually store the images to the web so you can get them in an emergency, even if your computer or cell phone is destroyed, lost or stolen. There are several options for this – you can email yourself the pictures and videos if you use a web mail program (Google, Yahoo, etc). Even better, store them in the cloud using one of the free storage options (Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive are all good examples of free cloud storage options). Should a claim arise, you now have video evidence of what you have in your house, making it easier for you AND the carrier to “make you whole”.
Once you have your video documentation, make up a home inventory to go along with it. Write down everything you have in your house that you would want replaced, should there be a claim. For more expensive items, get serial numbers and model numbers (to go along with the video evidence you just created). Where and when did you get it? How much did you pay? Information is so important – the more you have, the easier it will be when it comes time to discuss the claim with your insurance carrier. The website http://www.knowyourstuff.org/ is an excellent resource for creating your inventory, and this portion of their site gives you amazing insight into the process if how and what to inventory. Read about what you should do here, from Know Your Stuff, or watch the video on Youtube. You can also simply create a spreadsheed using Excel, again saving the file to the cloud for access in the event of a claim.
Remember – after a loss is too late. Take the time to inventory, in list and image, before the need arises. As with all insurance, the best case scenario is you never need to use these images, videos and lists. It is the best possible outcome.