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How to Document Your Home’s Contents

iStock_000000616707_SmallIn the event that you suffer a natural disaster or burglary, you will have to file a claim on your home’s contents with your homeowner’s insurance company. It’s important to remember that insurance companies deal with a lot of fraud on a regular basis, and so they have to be very careful when they process claims. That’s not to say that you are dishonest. But there are dishonest people out there, who often try to make outrageous claims about the contents of their homes. Therefore, your insurance company may require proof that you owned certain items in order to process your claim.

Keep in mind that insurance companies deal with a lot of statistics and averages. If your claim falls into the average range for a typical home in your area, for a family of your size, or for an individual of your income level, you probably won’t raise too many eyebrows. But if you own expensive family heirlooms or an art collection which has increased in value, you may wish you had taken the appropriate steps to document these items.

Luckily, it’s not too difficult to gather this evidence. The catch is that you have to do it now, before any theft or loss of property occurs! Simply walk through your home with a video camera or even your cell phone. Take video or still pictures of items in each room, particularly expensive items. Remember to capture details that will help to prove an item’s worth, such as the designer tags on your Luis Vuitton luggage or the artist’s signature on original artworks.

If you’re one of those people who have expensive taste, you are probably aware of this fact about yourself. Are many of your household items more expensive versions of standard equipment? For example, the average insurance payout for a coffee maker might be 20 or 30 dollars. But if you paid 400 dollars for a fancy espresso machine, document it. You may need to prove the dollar amount of your claim if many of your common household items are not so common!

Finally, remember to keep evidence of your household possessions in a secure location! If your home is damaged badly enough to ruin its contents, chances are that your evidence could be destroyed as well. Keep a digital copy of your photos in a fireproof box, or safe deposit box at the bank, and consider backing up this data onto an online cloud storage system as well.

Hopefully you will never suffer such a devastating loss that you need to file a claim on your homeowner’s insurance. But if you do, you will be grateful for easy access to the documentation you need during such a stressful time.