During the emergency shut down in Massachusetts because of the pandemic, people have had time to do tasks around the house that they've been putting off. One more task you might consider: creating or updating a Home Inventory. It's amazing how much a family adds to its personal property in the course of a year with birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and other occasions.
The Tropical Meteorology Project in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU) is predicting 19 storms or more this hurricane season. And while the Franklin area may not be as vulnerable as coastal areas, we are susceptible to wind damage from hurricanes. If you haven't had a review of your coverages, now may be a good time to consider it. We'd be glad to help.
One of the best ways to prepare against storm damage is with a comprehensive home inventory that shows what you have and what it is worth. A home inventory is absolutely vital in the event of a catastrophic fire loss. Not only will you have a valuable record for future estate distribution or sale purposes, you will also have the critical documentation you need to recover from such a major loss.
Household inventory invaluable aid for claim settlement process
If you lose some or all of your household belongings in a fire, storm or other disaster or by theft, you must prove the extent of your loss when you file your insurance claim. Right now, how quickly could you do that?
You need to be able to account for everything you own: furniture, entertainment center items, art objects, chinaware, clothing, electronics ...everything. Even seasonal items like holiday decorations, lawn and garden care equipment, and sporting equipment, etc. add up to a major investment. Ideally, your inventory should include information about the purchase price and date of purchase, especially for high ticket items.
If you are a collector of art, antiques, stamps or coins (or other valuable collections), it is vital that you maintain a record of recent professional appraisals. Jewelry and expensive gift items also need to be logged and tracked. Standard homeowner policies contain only limited coverage for these items. You may need to add an endorsement to your policy to cover them for their full worth.
Basic inventory steps
* List all belongings, room by room
Record serial numbers, purchase dates, purchase prices and the estimated current value of items. If you have them, attach receipts.
* Back up your records with pictures
Photograph or video (with commentary) each wall of every room with closet and cabinet doors open. On the back of photographs, write the date, contents shown and location within your home.
* Store inventory records off-premises
An obvious choice is a safe deposit box at a bank. There are also companies offering secure on-line record retention services. Review annually and make sure you add new purchases or delete items.
* Call us if you have questions
After you've completed your inventory, compare the estimated total value of your personal property with the coverage limit in your homeowners or renters policy (Section 1, Coverage C). Contact us immediately if there is a coverage gap.
There are numerous software companies offering easy to use Home Inventory programs. Simply Google the words "home inventory" for a list of potential products.
When you experience a loss, the "intangible" promises in your auto or homeowner policy suddenly become very tangible! We understand the need for sensitive treatment and fast action. Fair and prompt payment of a loss settlement is our immediate goal. This is the trust you placed in us when you chose the Keefe Insurance Agency. Maintaining your trust in these trying circumstances is a responsibility we take very seriously. Your complete satisfaction, if and when you have a claim, is our number one priority.
DID YOU KNOW?
Do I file claims with your agency or directly with the company?
Call us first so we can make sure you have everything you need, such as the right policy number. Then we'll talk you through what to expect during the claim process and answer your questions. However, if it is after hours or on a weekend, our website has the 24/7 claims contacts for our companies.
What about the online backup services I see advertised on television?
Today the emphasis is on Cloud storage. If you have current computers and devices, they came with a certain amount of Cloud storage space.
If you have your inventory list, photos, and other valuable documents and files on your home computer, you don't want to risk losing that data. You can buy additional Cloud storage space for a low monthly fee. And don't forget to scan all your important documents like birth certificates, marriage records, passports, wills, health directives, health proxies, etc. They are also part of your inventory.
However, if you are concerned about identity theft if your laptop or tablet is lost or stolen, you may want to take the old fashioned route of keeping all your critical documents in a fireproof lock-box or bank safety deposit box. Include a flash drive with your computer backup files.
Where can I find out about the best free home inventory apps?
A website called The Balance publishes a list of free apps. It currently lists seven different ones and reviews each one.
What if I don't do apps on my phone? Anything else available?
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (naic.org) has a PDF with guidelines and forms you can print out and use to conduct a manual inventory.
Are there guidelines on getting prepared for Hurricane Season?
Yes. The Insurance Information Institute publishes information on Hurricane Preparedness. Go to iii.org for additional material.