A house is more often than not, a home. It is a place where the walls bubble over with a sense of safety, security, love, and if you’re lucky, joy. Home is lazy Saturday mornings, and cookouts on the grill and of course, where we bring our babies home to learn how to be children. Home is where we celebrate, where we mourn, and where we consider our most loved people to be waiting for us. Large or small, home means everything.
In the unfortunate event of a catastrophe, as logical and reasonable adults we already understand that insurance companies won’t replace our memories, our sense of safety and security, or that cute little ding in the dining room table that made you so mad when little Johnny dropped the Thanksgiving turkey. We do, however, expect them to replace what is rightfully covered under our insurance policies.
Insurance companies are a business, and just like any other business, they only thrive when they have more money coming in than they do going out. Thus, they like to skip over certain possessions if they can. Typically this means that if the policy holder doesn’t have any documented proof of the valuables that they retained over the years, the insurance company isn’t likely to reimburse them for the policy holder for the loss. It is unfortunate, but it is true. Thus, it is up to the policy holder to make sure he or she has the correct documentation in order to prove to the insurance company that these valuables existed and that there was a specific level of lifestyle obtained while creating the home.
Naturally, we don’t need to document the $5 treasure we found at the local yard sale, but anything that has value that you would want replaced in the event of a fire, tornado, hurricane, or other catastrophic loss, needs to be well documented. Well documented often means more than just one form of documentation.
Receipts show on paper the value of something, but a visual back up is also recommended, such as video or still shots of the valuables in your home. Some people prefer to take video footage and store it with valuable receipts in a lock box or safe deposit box somewhere every time they purchase a new valuable while others prefer to update their valuables video and receipts annually.
Recording valuables is not limited to any specific price range. The word valuable is subjective, and if it is valuable to you then it should be recorded. Of course, some valuables are potentially irreplaceable, but you should include them in your valuables footage. The hand crafted baby cradle your father made for you before your first child was born can not be readily replaced, but it still has monetary value. If you feel it has value, then it does. The insurance company may argue with you about the actual value of the items that do not come with a receipt, but you should never lose sight of the fact that if it has value to you, it should be documented.
Documenting a home doesn’t have to take very long and can actually be a bit of fun. Gather up the children and take home movies of your home, of course including the valuables in the home in every shot. Don’t make each movie a thirty minute segment, just a few brief seconds to help highlight the extent of the valuables inside the home. Personalizing your story, if done with tact, can stick inside the insurance adjuster’s mind better than a generic video tour of your home.
Receipts are vital. Receipts are proof of value, purchase, and in some cases, appreciation of value. Without a receipt, the insurance company isn’t going to care how nice your $3000 teak and glass curio cabinet looks on video if you can’t prove you paid that much for it the first place. As obvious as it may sound, the purpose of documenting everything you own in your home is to be able to replace as much as possible in the event the home is destroyed. Do not keep your valuable receipts in your home. It is also not a good idea to keep them in your car. Keeping them in a third party location such as a small self storage unit or a safe deposit box is the safest avenue of storing your receipts.
To protect your home, you will want to keep the proper receipts, the proper insurances, including flood insurance, and of course proper upkeep to help alleviate the need for an insurance claim if at all possible