Every year, tens of thousands of people around the world are killed or badly injured in natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods and tornados, while millions more suffer some kind of significant property damage. In recent years, natural disasters have clearly been occurring with greater frequency. Whether this is due to global warming, earth changes, government experiments with HAARP, or the approach of the End Times is unknown. However, the threat of destruction from natural calamities has never been greater, which is why you should be taking steps to protect yourself and your interests as best you can just in case – God forbid – your home is ever caught up in a destructive tempest.
Obviously, the most important thing is that no one is killed or hurt if a natural disaster should strike. Unfortunately, while you can take measures to protect yourself and your family members from natural disasters, as long as you are warned ahead of time, there is little that can be done to protect your home. This is why all home owners should make an exhaustive and thorough inventory of all of their personal items, so in case their home and/or possessions are damaged in a flood, fire, or tornado, they will be able to provide a full and complete list of everything that was lost to their insurance company.
Basically, there are two main reasons why you should perform a complete personal property inventory – so you can make sure your home owners (or renters) insurance policy is extensive enough to cover everything you own, and so you can make sure your insurance company doesn’t try to weasel out of paying if you have to someday put in a claim.
How to Perform a Home Inventory, Step by Step
If you have never before performed a home inventory, you are likely to be very surprised to find out how much stuff you really own, and how much more valuable it all is than you ever imagined.
The key to doing a thorough home inventory is to make it truly thorough. Go through your house one room at a time, and be sure to list or record every single item you have that would have some kind of cash value, no matter how small that value might be. You can make a written list of everything; but the best way to do it is to take a camera or a video recorder so that you will have visual evidence of everything that you own. With the most expensive items, try to zoom in as close as you can to make sure you record things like model numbers, serial numbers, and brand names. With the less valuable items, you can put them together on a couch, bed, or the floor and take a wide angle shot. It is important to make sure your camera or video recorder has a time signature on it, so you will have evidence to show that the home inventory was taken recently. If you have antiques, you will want to have them appraised by a professional, instead of trying to estimate their value yourself.
Generally, you should plan on taking a new home inventory every six months or so. However, make sure that every time you buy something new, you add it to your written list or collection of photographic evidence. If you are going to be keeping your home inventory information in written form, or on a CD or DVD, you should make several copies, and store at least one copy at a secure off-site location such as a bank safety deposit box. If you are not phobic about the Internet, then by all means you should download or subscribe to a home inventory software program, which will allow you to keep this valuable information stored in a secure site online.
After the inventory is complete, the final step is to check your insurance policy to see if you have the amount of coverage that you really need. If you do not – than there is an excellent chance this will be the case – then you should have your policy improved and updated immediately. You may want to consider purchasing full replacement cost coverage, so if you put in a claim you will be compensated based on how much it will actually cost you to replace any item lost.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
If you read other articles about insurance, one piece of advice often given is to try and find an insurance agent that is compassionate and honest, and who will not be afraid to go to bat for you against his own company in case of a dispute involving a claim.
This is advice you can basically ignore. The truth is, there ain’t no such animal as an insurance agent you can trust. Your insurance agent could be one of your buddies, someone you bowl or play cards with every week. But if your home gets hit by a hurricane or tornado and you put in a claim, you could be shocked at how quickly your buddy’s attitude and demeanor will change. The relationship between insurance companies and clients is adversarial, and this is something you should not forget for one single moment.
Tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims in both New Orleans and Mississippi ended up in court because their insurance companies refused to compensate them in full for the damages they suffered, and you can be sure that many of those people had insurance agents they believed they could trust.
A thorough and complete home inventory is important because if a natural disaster does damage your home and possession, you will be able to pin your insurance company to the wall. Insurance companies aren’t going to risk getting sued if they know they can’t win, and if you confront them with a personal property list that is comprehensive and well documented, they will pay quickly to avoid trouble.
Protecting your Rights
Home inventories provide vital protection against natural disaster and insurance company truculence. If you are going to pay premiums for homeowners insurance, then you are absolutely entitled to receive full compensation for anything you lose in a fire, flood, tsunami, tidal wave or any other kind of wicked natural disaster that is thrown at you. Home inventories are important because they will allow you to exercise your rights with confidence and assurance, so you can get everything that you truly deserve if something catastrophic happens.