Whether you rent or own, it's critically important to know your stuff. Do you have a home inventory of all your possessions? According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), about half of those recently surveyed do not.
Nick Hytrek talks about the importance of logging your possessions in a recent article in the Sioux City Journal, and notes that the post-holiday period is a good time to start one or update any that may exist:
"It's a lot easier to take inventory now rather than after a fire has gutted your home. There's enough to think about without having to try to remember everything you owned once the insurance adjuster arrives.
"After a fire, they basically hand you a piece of paper and a pencil and say write down all your possessions," said Wynn Gochenour, executive adminstrator at Paul Davis Restoration. "Most people don't do it beforehand, but wish they would have."
We've previously suggested Know Your Stuff, a free online tool issued by the Insurance Information Institute, that is great for this purpose. It offers a room-by-room inventory system that allows you to create, view, save, and print real time reports. You can learn more about this inventory system in a brief video clip. Hytek's article also notes that there are national companies that will come in and do home inventories and valuation for you - a service that might be worth it if you have expensive collections.
Hytek offers the following tips for taking a home inventory, sourced from NAIC:
- Document each item as completely as possible, including brand and model number.
- Include receipts and/or canceled checks to prove what you paid for items.
- Remember to include items you don't use regularly, such as holiday decorations, sports equipment or tools.
- Review your insurance policy to know what is covered and whether your possessions are insured for actual cash value (the amount it would take to replace or repair the item after depreciation) or for replacement cost (the amount it would take to repair or replace the item without deducting for depreciation).
- For rare or valuable items such as jewelry, antiques or art, you may want to consider adding additional insurance -- a rider -- to your policy.
- Keep the completed list outside of your home. Store it at your office, a family member's house or safe-deposit box.
- Update the list annually.