In my kitchen, on a piece of dated paper stuck in an old cookbook, I have my Grami's handwritten family recipe for "chruscikis". She would make these feather light, crispy pastry bows sprinkled with powdered sugary goodness for our family to enjoy around the holidays. 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. This old recipe written on a tattered piece of paper has no real dollar value, but is a one-of-a-kind treasure to me.
Here at NNINS, we assist our members with home claims every day when their home's treasures get damaged or destroyed. Occasionally, the total loss of a home occurs for a member. It's genuinely heartbreaking. In the difficult aftermath, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to help our members rebuild and get their lives back to normal. Meet the Harpers who experienced a devastating home fire.
People say, "They are 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 properly reimbursed for those things that can be replaced so you can start putting your life back together. As we begin a home insurance claim process, there’s important information we need to know about the 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, especially 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 your home's contents 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 detail in your documentation, the better.
Your home inventory should include square footage, the number of rooms, age, and the construction materials of your home. The essential parts of a home inventory should include lists, photos, video recordings and receipts where possible. Catalog all of your possessions with photographs, serial numbers, model numbers, descriptions, including your items' brand name. A new model 65 inch Samsung smart HDTV is worth a bit more than a 3 inch bargain store flat-screen from 3 years ago.
Here are a few more tips:
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 also to check out #4 below!
3. Don't forget hidden valuables
Check the attic. Open those drawers. Remember jewelry, antiques, and valuable items that may be put away or stored in your basement, attic, or garage. Don't miss seasonal items that get put away for large parts of the year.
4. Make copies
Store a copy of your inventory to the cloud or on a thumb drive or CD in case your computer is destroyed. A fireproof safe is a good place along with important documents or another location away from home, like with a good friend, family member, or a safety deposit box. You can also send a copy to us and we'll keep it in your policy file.
5. Update regularly
Keep your inventory up-to-date especially when large or expensive purchases 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're close by and ready to help
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 a smooth claims process.