prepare for disasterAs a homeowner, you need to be prepared before a tornado, hurricane, or fire hits your home. A home inventory will help you get the most money out of an insurance claim.

Home inventory

FRONT ROOMNo matter how good an insurance policy you have, it all comes down to proving what’s in your home when you have a loss. Preparing before disaster strikes helps you get the most value out of your insurance policy.Grab your cell phone and take photos of every room in your home. Take closeup shots of valuable items. This helps make the insurance claim process smoother. There will be no doubt as to the contents of your home.

Grab your cell phone and take photos of every room in your home. Take closeup shots of valuable items. This helps make the insurance claim process smoother. There will be no doubt as to the contents of your home.

If you have time, write down and take a photo of the model number for expensive items like your television or computer. That way you can prove to the insurance company the true value of your item as items like TVs can vary dramatically depending on the model.

It’s also a good idea to take photos of your roof. From the ground will help. If you can get a ladder and get up on the roof, even better. That way you have proof of the condition pre-hurricane. With a storm of this magnitude, wind damage is a huge issue along with the obvious flooding concerns.

Backup photos and video

Along with photos, a video can be a helpful tool too.

Make sure the photos are saved to the cloud or another safe place before the storm hits.

You can even use free software from the Insurance Information Institute (III) to make sure you record all the information you need about the items in your home. It’s called, “Know Your Stuff.”  The software prompts you for the make, model, and place of purchase and allows you to include receipts, photos, and appraisals. You should also add the serial numbers.

The information is stored in the III secure database.  Then you can access the information when you need it.

The software is a good tool because it means your information is located in an independent location in case of fire, burglary, or flood. You don’t have to worry about the information being stolen, burned, or ruined.

Thinking about a worst case scenario is never on the top of a homeowner’s to-do list. However, you need to make it a priority. It doesn’t take long. Perhaps you gather up a safety kit every year in advance of storm season. This is a good time to also update your home inventory. Or do it when you renew your insurance policy each year. Just make it a priority.

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Flood insurance

Remember, most policies will only cover wind damage or minor water damage. You need to have flood insurance for most water claims. There’s a 30-day wait on flood insurance so it’s too late to purchase this coverage.

Big storms like this grab our attentions. It’s a good time to review your insurance policy, and make sure you have the right coverage to fully protect your investments. It’s likely too late to make changes for this storm, as the insurance companies will put a moratorium on changes at some point soon, but a change now could better protect you next time.

These steps will protect you if something happens during this storm or at another unexpected time.