How to Document Your Personal Property for Insurance Coverage

Personal property is everything inside your home. Your belongings.

According to a recent news article about the aftermath of the devastating tornado that hit Southern Virginia earlier this year, the destruction of homes and the belongings within them is causing a problem for homeowners trying to file claims with their insurance companies. It was reported that the companies are denying claims because there aren’t photographs of the personal property.

So how do you prove the ownership and value of your personal property? Here are our recommendations.

Document Proof of Ownership

In some way, you have to show what you own, or make an inventory of your belongings. We recommend taking four photos of every room in your house. Stand in one corner, take a photo of the opposite corner, and repeat this in each of the four corners of the room. You should be capturing all the contents of that room in those images. If a room has a closet, take a specific picture of the closet’s contents too.

Now that you’ve taken your pictures, you want to store them in at least two locations. One at home and one back-up that you can access outside your home. With cloud technology, that’s very easy. For example, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Apps, etc., can all store photos that are accessible from any device with an internet connection.

Calculate the Value of Your Personal Property

After documenting ownership, it’s time to calculate the value of your personal property. Consider what it would cost to buy your belongings brand new. Keep in mind, if you have many expensive items, such as electronics, artwork, and furniture, you’ll want to make sure you add it up correctly. Even the items hanging in your closet have a value.

The goal is to have a ballpark figure of what your personal property is worth to ensure you have proper coverage under Cov-B on your homeowners insurance policy.

Verify Your Current Personal Property Insurance Coverage

On your initial homeowners insurance policy, Cov-B, your personal property coverage, is calculated automatically at 70% of Cov-A (Home Replacement Value). However, you can always increase Cov-B to better match your personal property value.

You want to compare the value you attribute to your personal property to what your insurance company has for Cov-B. These two figures should be close. Having a little extra coverage is preferred. Better to be covered than be exposed.

How Often Should I Update My Documentation and Coverage?

We all collect belongings over time. Anytime you make a large ($) purchase, or refurbish a room with new furniture, these are significant personal property items that you want to have listed and photographed. You might even want to keep the sales receipts.

Whether you just bought a home or have had the same homeowners insurance policy for several years, it’s important to reevaluate the value of your personal property and double check that with your current insurance coverage.

Consider taking some time once a year to take new photographs and see if there has been a significant increase in the value of your personal property. In that case, you’ll want to check your homeowners policy and notify your insurance company if you think you need to increase your personal property coverage.

It’s much better to spend some time doing this now, before you are in a position where you need to file a claim.

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