Even before the recent devastation caused by superstorm Sandy, professional home inventory services started appearing on the scene. A recent story by The Gazette in Colorado Springs highlights the importance of home inventories and the companies that have sprung up around them. Colorado was the site of a large wildfire earlier this year, so they have started seeing the new businesses sooner than some other parts of the nation. The fact that there are now professionals in the business of creating home inventories should underscore for you the importance of having one in place.
As the article points out, your ability to properly document and support your possessions is absolutely crucial in determining how much you will be reimbursed by the insurance company after a loss. Unfortunately, you cannot simply rely upon your memory of your possessions. Additionally, after a serious loss, you may be emotionally spent and even less capable of providing the necessary details. Even if your insurance company accepts your claim at face value, it’s likely that you will have left out many items when simply working from memory. Having clear documentation of your possessions is a crucial part of the insurance puzzle. Unfortunately, it’s a step that too many homeowners neglect or procrastinate on completing.
Hiring a professional home inventory service isn’t the only way to put together a proper home inventory. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has created a website called Know Your Stuff to help you with compiling your own home inventory. The III is an organization composed of many insurance companies dedicated to creating greater understanding and awareness of the insurance process. This site is free to use and, as the insurance companies essentially created it, it should help you capture with confidence all of the necessary pieces of information.
Another important part of a home inventory is how you store the information once it’s been compiled. A good home inventory won’t do you any good if it is destroyed along with your home. It’s a good idea to have backups of the information stored offsite so that it can be easily accessed even when you are not at home or do not have access to your home. It has become much more commonplace to store information online or in the cloud. The New York Times recently published a guide to cloud storage. You should consider these options as a possible way to store your home inventory. In fact, it might be a good idea to consider backing up all of your digital media in the cloud. Doing so will shield you from loss in the event your home is damaged or burglarized in the state you live in- Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, etc.
As you can see, several options are available to help you with both compiling and storing your home inventory. However, the biggest hurdle for most homeowners is actually starting the process. Instead of delaying, try to make it a resolution to have yours completed early in the new year.