When the Worst Happens, How Can You Prove the Value of All Your Possessions?
When you’re shopping for home insurance, you have several decisions to make that influence the cost of the policy. You can have a basic level of coverage, or you could elect for full replacement value of personal items. You can select a higher deductible to reduce premiums. Those are coverage and premium decisions, but one thing you will find in all the policies is some process by which they determine the value of your possessions for payment of claims.
You will be asked for an inventory of possessions you claim for loss, and some value will be assigned to each for the coverage payout amount. After a theft or catastrophe claim isn’t the time to start digging around for proof of what you’ve lost and how much it was worth. It can be even worse if you had paper files and they were lost as well.
Before a loss is the time to pull together an inventory of all your valuables. You should also have a process you go through for every major purchase so that it becomes automatic to document what you own and value.
Photo Your Valuables
Take photos of your valuable items that you would want covered for loss. Get several angles/views, and if there is a published advertisement for what you purchased with the cost, photo that as well.
You will of course want to keep all receipts and file them away where you can find them when needed. However, depending on where you keep the file for convenience, it could be lost as well. Photo every receipt, preferable in the same photo as one of your images of the item.
Keep a Spreadsheet
This is a simple spreadsheet with as few as four columns:
- Item description
- Purchase date
- Purchase price
- Value if different – for appreciated value if bought at a discount
The spreadsheet and all the images of items and receipts can be kept on a file on your computer, as well as a thumb drive or CD that can be kept off-site for safety.
Even better for backup of this important information would be storage “in the cloud.” Using services (mostly free) like Dropbox or Google Drive, you can have all these photos, receipt images, and the spreadsheet backed up to an online file.
Should the worst happen, and if you have a significant loss, you can simply share the file folder with all this documentation with your insurance claims adjuster. You should see a much faster processing of your claim and reimbursement. You’ll also be less likely to have your information or valuations challenged when you present your information in this organized format.
While it can take a few hours to set up this whole process and the spreadsheet entries to start with, you’ll be very happy you did so should you have a claim later. Don’t add to the stress of a casualty loss with a required search for unorganized proof of possessions and their value.