The Life Transition Blog
Taking Stock of What You Have
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It’s that time of the year again here in Florida where we worry about Mother Nature. Are you prepared if she huffs and puffs and blows your house down? If not, it’s time to get busy and create your household inventory. Last year I provided a step-by-step guide to creating your inventory. If you missed that article, you can look it up in the Naples Daily News archives or contact us and we will be happy to send it to you. This time around, we’ll focus on what to do with your inventory if you have a claim.
The most important thing to do if you suffer loss or damage of your personal property is to report the loss immediately to your insurance company. Depending upon the company you are insured with, you will either call a customer service number or your agent. In many cases, it is a good idea to call both. The agent or representative will usually take some basic information over the phone and open the claim and then will arrange for an adjuster to come and survey the damage and document the loss. Since you’ve prepared in advance by creating and maintaining your household inventory, you will be able to provide the adjuster with documentation regarding what you had, when you acquired it, and perhaps even an approximate value. Hopefully, you have photos of your home before the damage that prove your inventory.
As a reminder, your careful recordkeeping won’t do you any good if you don’t know who to call or can’t easily identify your policy information. I recommend that you keep a physical or electronic version of your policy and inventory in a few separate locations “just in case.” Keep one is a sealed zipper top plastic bag with your hurricane “ready box” along with other important papers. Keep another in a safety deposit box or in your office or place of business. Perhaps a third can be given to your insurance agent for safekeeping. Alternatively, you might send one to a relative or friend who lives in another part of the country. Whatever you do, be sure that you can access your policy number, customer service and agent contact information, and household inventory quickly and easily even if your home is completely destroyed.
Once the adjuster is actually on site, he or she will take the information from your inventory, along with his or her own photos and measurements and will then process the claim. If the adjuster determines that you had a covered loss, the insurance company will repair or replace your ruined articles according to the terms of your insurance contract. Hopefully you read and understood your policy when you purchased it and aren’t surprised to learn the details of what is and is not covered and how the company will determine the value you receive for the loss.
Now is also a good time to get your affairs in order in general and, as you did with your household inventory, keep a paper and/or electronic record in several locations including offsite. If all of this seems overwhelming, professionals are able to help you do this efficiently so that you’re ready for anything.