In my kitchen, on a piece of dated paper stuck in an old cookbook, I have my Grami's handwritten family recipe for "chruscikis". Around the holidays, she would make these feather light, crispy pastry bows sprinkled with powdered sugary goodness for our family to enjoy. This sweet artifact serves as a time capsule of childhood memories spent with my great grandmother. She didn't have a lot, but our time was always full of laughter, love and plenty of flour. So though it may be silly to talk about a recipe written on a piece of paper that has no real dollar value, but it has become a one-of-a-kind treasure to me.
Here at NNINS, we assist our members with home claims every day when their more valuable treasures get damaged or destroyed. Occasionally, the total loss of a home occurs for a member and it’s truly heartbreaking. In the difficult aftermath, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to help our members rebuild and get back to normal. Like when our members, the Harpers, had a house fire.
People say, "They're just things, and things can be replaced". So true- hug your loved ones! But imagine losing your home and ALL your belongings - family photos and heirlooms, furniture, electronics - to a fire or weather disaster.
Now imagine trying to recall every item inside your home from memory.
While some of those things are priceless and can't be replaced, you want to be able to be reimbursed properly for valuables so you can start putting your life back together. As we begin the claims process, there’s important information we need to know about the replacement value of what was lost, especially inside the home.
House fire in Stafford, Virginia. Fire started in the kitchen.
That's why a home inventory is so important. It can be hard to remember everything you own in the emotional aftermath of a disaster. It doesn't matter if you live in a single-family home or rent an apartment, a record of the contents of your home is vital to a claim. When in place, it simplifies and expedites the insurance process immensely. There's really only one rule of thumb:
We can only cover what we know you lost. The more documentation, the better.
The essential parts of a home inventory should include lists, photos, video recordings and receipts where possible. Include square footage, number of rooms, age and materials your home is constructed from. Here are a few good ways to create a solid home inventory.
1. Try a Smartphone App
If you're tech savvy, this is definitely the way to go. Some are free and some are paid, but there are plenty of apps you can use on your phone or tablet to make a home inventory. They have nice features like folders, photo uploading, barcode scanners and cloud backup and syncing for family sharing on multiple devices. That means you never have to worry about your inventory getting lost or destroyed! One less thing to worry about! Find a top-rated app that suits your needs by searching "home inventory" in your app store.
2. Buy and Download Software or a Checklist
You can also purchase home inventory software for your PC or do it the old-fashion way and print a ready made list to record your belongings. Adding receipts and pictures to your document will make it complete. Be sure to also check out #4 below!
3. Don't Forget Hidden Valuables
Check the attic! Open those drawers. Remember jewelry, antiques, and important items that may be put away or stored in your basement, attic or garage. Seasonal items that get put away for large parts of the year are important to record too!
4. Makes Copies
Don't forget to store a copy of your inventory on paper or thumb drive in a fireproof safe or another location away from home in case your computer is destroyed, like with a good friend, family member or in a safety deposit box. You can also send one to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your policy number and we'll keep it for you!
5. Update Regularly
Keep your inventory up-to-date especially when large or expensive purchases are made or you inherit something of value. In that case, it's also a good idea to give your independent agent a call and let them know. It should also account for any recent improvements – like a new roof or water heater – and upgrades – such as a room addition or new pool. You want to be sure that new item is included under your coverage.
We hope you never have such a devastating property loss. But if you do, someone like Debbie from our claims department will help you get back on your feet. It’s comforting to know that you have all that valuable information store in one place! So go get your home inventory in place today and have peace of mind that you'll be prepared for the most efficient claim process.