After many years of procrastinating I finally got around to doing one of the most important thingsthat anyone with a household full of "stuff" should do. A full and detailed photo inventory. Sure "it will never happen" but when this is properly done and saved, and periodically updated, it will help immeasurably in the claim settlement process following a major loss, if it ever does!
Over the holidays I found a bit of time on my hands and what better way to spend it than acting on the old Scout motto of "Be Prepared". Especially with many families having at least one digital camera, this process has been made much simpler than just a few years ago with the film based cameras (should still be done, just print and store safely).
If either you, or someone you know, has ever suffered through a major claim such as a fire, you will appreciate that most of the challenge is trying to remember everything you own! Sifting through charred ruins is an impossible task even if you could get permission. Think for a moment. What items and what is the is the value of everything in your home? Bathroom(s) vanity cabinets? Kitchen? – pots, pans, glasses, china, plates, cutlery…not to mention foodstuffs. Under your beds? Attic? Closets? Bedroom drawers? Garage? Basement? Collectibles? Valuables? The value of the "stuff" that most of us accumulate over many years can be considerable, and unless you can remember it, you may miss being properly compensated for it when it's gone.
So, set aside an hour, grab your digital (or other) camera and "get 'er done". The suggestion is to take a picture of virtually everything in your home (house, condo or apartment). Take a pic from every corner of every room to get the major pieces of furniture, pictures, drapes, etc. Then, take additional pictures of each open drawer, cupboard or closet. Don't forget outdoor sheds or lockers. If you're energetic or the creative type, consider using video and talking into the camera to describe in detail additional features or attributes about the subject. You might consider taking individual shots of specific valuables such as jewellery, art, or collections.
The same thing should be done at your cottage or even RVs such as motor homes or trailers and even boats and yachts.
Once all done, make certain you store the pics in a safe place. If saved on your computer, do make sure a back-up copy is kept off-site.
Now, just a photo-inventory will certainly help you remember things but your insurer may still need additional information to support ownership or valuations. The photo of Aunt Harriet's $50,000 necklace you snapped when she last visited just may not cut it! This is where bills of sale may still be required, especially if the item is not consistent with the rest of your household or the value cannot easily be substantiated. Appraisals may also be necessary, especially with "one of a kind" pieces of art or jewellery. How would anyone know what it is worth once it's gone without some kind of third-party evaluation?
Now, this may sound paranoid and the likelihood that you will ever have to rely on this is remote. However every year thousands of Canadians suffer very serious home claims. Just a bit of preparation could help save thousands of dollarsand make working with the insurance company claims adjusters so much easier. This is especially so considering the frame of mind you and your family would be in after suffering through such a tragedy.
So, charge up the camera battery, set aside an hour or so, and take this simple step to help preserve the monetary investment in everything you have worked so hard for.
The Insurance Advisors @ Guthrie Insurance Brokers Ltd