About This Week's Action
We protect our stuff from theft, fire, tornadoes, and more by buying insurance. But, do you actually have the evidence you need to make a claim if something did happen to your stuff? What if everything you owned burned down in a fire? How would you prove to the insurance company the contents of your house or apartment?
If you're like most people you have very little proof of the ownership of your things. So, this week's task is to conduct a home inventory for insurance. I recommend taking a video as this is the easiest thing to do.
Why Should You Conduct a Home Inventory for Insurance
It's Easy Conducting a home inventory by making a video is an extremely simple task. If you have a smartphone or a digital camera and have 15 minutes of time, you too can make a video.
You'll Be Protected in Case of Disaster No one likes to think about burglary or fire. But most people know someone who has had their home broken into or had a natural disaster or major accident happen at their house. Just this summer my spouse's co-worker had a fire in her home. The fire was put out before it burned everything down. Sadly, either the smoke damage or water damage (from the firetrucks) ruined every single one of their possessions. They literally had to gut there house and start over again. Hopefully this won't happen to you, but if it does a home inventory video will help insure you're prepared.
How Long Does This Action Take?
It will take you no more than 20 minutes to take the video. It will take you 15 more minutes to store the video in a safe place.
How to Conduct a Home Inventory and Make an Insurance Video
1. Find a Video Camera
You need a video camera to make a home inventory video. If you have an old-fashioned video camera, feel free to use that. Though a videotape/CD will be more difficult to store than a digital version. Instead, opt for the video camera on your smartphone, a flipcam, a digital camera (most point and shoot digital cameras take video), an ipad, or even the camera on your laptop.
2. Open Everything
Walk around your house and open all of your closets, drawers, and cabinets. You're going to want video of the inside of all of these places and it's much easier to open them before you start the video and not during the video.
3. Walk Around Your House and Take Video
Start by taking a video of the outside of your home including any porches, patios, or garages. Make sure you get the inside of your garage too.
Next, walk through your home and take video of both the home itself and its contents. I recommend starting wide and then zooming in on important items.
Capture the serial numbers or manufacturers of expensive items. For example, zoom in on the back of your computer and TV. Carefully capture any expensive jewelry you have.
Don't forget to take video of your floors, including oriental rugs, or items hanging on your walls.
While it seems a little tedious, go through every room in your house recording the video. When there are a lot of items in one place (like closet) stop for several seconds and make sure you record everything.
When you've walked through all the rooms in your house, end the video.
4. Store the Video in a Safe Place
Now you have to upload the video to your computer. Chances are the video takes up too many bytes of data to email it to yourself. Instead, I recommend making a physical copy on either a usb jump drive or CD. Then store this usb drive in a safe deposit box or fire/water proof safe. Give a copy to a trusted loved one to store too.
I also recommend storing the video digitally. You can store up to 2 GB free with Dropbox or use another online storage or backup service.
5. Bonus: Make a Written Inventory
Many insurance companies also recommend that you make a written inventory of your possessions. This is, unfortunately, much more time consuming. If you wish to do this too I recommend using this checklist from the State of Minnesota Department of Commerce. You should make copies of this document and also store them safely.
You are probably reading this post thinking - sure I'll add that to my to-do list. But chances are you'll get too busy. Sadly, statistically speaking at least several people who read this post will lose some stuff to theft, accident, or natural disaster. So, instead of just telling yourself that you will do this, be prepared and actually take Action. If you don't have time to take action immediately, sign up to get a reminder.
Photo credit: DVS
This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance.