One of the best ways to make sure you are adequately covered in the event of a claim is to keep a home inventory. According to the Insurance Information Institute only 43% of Midwestern homeowners had a home inventory. That is the lowest percentage of the four census regions. However, of the 5.3% of homeowners that filed a claim in 2014, 97.3% of those claims were for property damage with theft being a common cause of loss. A home inventory can help you determine what property was stolen and can help you prove to your claims adjuster you own the property. You will have to show proof of loss during the claims process, so you will have to prove you own the property. We at MHJ want to remind you to make a home inventory, and give you some tips to make sure it is comprehensive.
Tip 1: Take a video walk through of your home. Include in your video the contents of garages, attics, closets, and storage sheds. Make sure to include contents of jewelry boxes or chest, gun cases, china cabinets, and collection displays. Open up any cabinets where you keep tech devices such as computer desk and entertainment centers.
Tip 2: Keep a file of receipts and owner’s manuals for high ticket items. These items include but are not limited to furniture, jewelry, tech gadgets, guns, collectables, silverware, goldware, or pewterware. You will have to prove ownership if you file a claim and this evidence will help. Also, receipts fade easily over time, so consider making a photocopy and attaching it to the original.
Tip 3: Make sure you have adequate limits on certain classes of property. Some valuable types of property that are targets of theft, have dollar amount caps in your policy. You might be able to endorse the policy for additional coverage. Some common examples include, but are not limited to:
- $2,500 for theft of firearms
- $2,500 for theft of silver-plated ware, gold or gold-plated ware, and pewterware including but not limited to trophies, tea sets and flatware.
- $2,500 for property on the premises used for business purposes
- $1,500 for theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious, and semiprecious stones
- $1,500 for loss of portable electronic equipment that produces, receives, or transmits audio, visual, or data signals while in a motor vehicle
- $200 for money, bank notes, bullion, gold, silver, platinum, and other metals.
Different companies might have slightly lower or higher limits for these items. If you have property in one of these classes that exceeds these limits contact an agent to see if you have adequate coverage or need an endorsement to your policy.
Tip 4: If you have antiques, collectibles, memorabilia, or artwork get a certificate of authenticity and appraisal. Grandma’s antique vase, or your toy action figure in the original packaging, or an autographed baseball might have a high value at auction if authenticated. To an insurance company however, its value has depreciated since it was originally purchased for $10 many decades ago, meaning they can’t pay out on it in the event it is stolen or damaged. Such items might need to be covered as scheduled property or on an inland marine policy. Contact an agent regarding your property if you have questions.
Tip5: Review your inventory every year. Do not hesitate to document new purchases, gifts, or inherited items.
Tip 6: Finally, keep all of this documentation in a safe place away from your home, such as at your office, in a safe deposit box, or at a trusted relative’s home. You should also save a digital copy on a flash drive or cloud, so it can be accessed even if your device is stolen or damaged. In the event of a total fire or other such catastrophe, you want to be able to get to these documents to expedite your proof of loss so your claim can be processed and paid quickly.
As always, the agents and staff at MHJ are ready to help you with any of this documentation or placing coverage endorsements to protect your assets.