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Taking Inventory of Your Home

No one plans to lose their valuables and other belongings in a burglary, a fire or a natural disaster. If one of these unfortunate events destroyed your home, would you be able to report exactly what you lost to the police, to the Internal Revenue Service or to your independent insurance agent?

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Write down any valuable items with their serial numbers (usually found on the bottom or back of major appliances) along with the method of acquisition (purchased, inherited or received as a gift), date purchased and price or approximate value. Attach receipts, if possible.

Remember to include furniture, appliances, carpeting, jewelry, artwork, toys and the contents of your closets, cabinets, and drawers. Contact your independent insurance agent with questions or concerns.

Play It Safe With A Videotape

Videotaping each room of your house can make taking inventories easier. Photographs and a tape recorder can substitute for a video camera.

A complete video inventory should contain verbal descriptions of major assets as well as their value. Remember your garage, attic, basement and the exterior of the house, plus your landscaping and fencing. If possible, make it a family project by having everyone take turns describing the objects in your home.

Store the video or photographs along with this inventory in a safe-deposit box and send a copy to a friend or relative.

Don't Forget Important Documents

Extremely important documents should be photocopied. Keep one copy in your home and the original, where possible, in a safe-deposit box. Important items include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • House - Escrow, title, deed, insurance policy.
  • Personal - Birth certificates, medical history, passports, insurance certificates, credit card numbers, will.
  • Automobile - Certificates of ownership, finance contracts, registrations, insurance policy, driver's licenses.
  • Finance - Account numbers for checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, other significant investments.
  • Tax - Copies of the first two pages of your state and federal returns for the past five years. Complete returns with appropriate receipts and canceled checks should be kept in a separate file box.

A Final Note

Most policies limit the amount of reimbursement for theft of valuable items, such as jewelry, furs, silverware, and guns. If you have some particularly valuable items in these categories, you may need to purchase additional coverage called a "floater." These types of policies cover each item individually and are usually quite inexpensive.

This information will only be beneficial if you make use of it now. By inventorying your personal possessions ahead of time, you will save yourself from frustration should disaster strike. Your independent insurance agent can help you determine whether your property is adequately protected.