A Home Inventory Will Save Time and Money on Insurance Claims
Madison, WI—We buy insurance coverage for our homes with the hopes of never having to file a claim. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that you won't ever have to file a claim for property damage. Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel suggests that consumers can help themselves by preparing a home inventory and keeping it up-to-date.
"You've carefully selected the policy that's right for you, now make sure you get the coverage that you're paying for," said Nickel. "A little effort now will be a great help if disaster strikes."
After purchasing the correct coverage for your needs, an important next step is for you to prepare a home inventory of your possessions. Preparing an inventory accomplishes two important things. First, it will make the process of filing a claim more orderly and less stressful should you experience a covered loss. Second, it can help you determine whether your current coverage is adequate.
Nickel encourages consumers to visit the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) Home Inventory Web page (oci.wi.gov/consumer/inv-home.htm). The page offers tips for creating an inventory list and provides a downloadable home inventory sheet for consumers to use. For iPhone (and iPod Touch) and Android smartphone users, the page provides links to downloadable home inventory apps called myHOME Scr.APP.book, developed for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, that will help you maintain an organized, digital inventory that includes photographs and other pertinent information about your valuable possessions.
Documenting possessions with a home inventory is the most important step homeowners and renters can take to make sure they have enough coverage to fully protect and replace their valuables if something happens. OCI offers the following tips to complete a home inventory:
10 Steps to Complete a Home Inventory
- Make a list of possessions, including "celebration" purchases, such as jewelry and fine art.
- Think about family heirlooms, collections and furniture. Also, consider items related to everyday leisure time, from flat-screen televisions to custom guitars.
- Take note of commonplace items such as toys, CDs and clothing. Do not forget items you may only use occasionally such as holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, and high-ticket items kept outside your home such as landscaping and swing sets.
- Attach copies of original sales receipts and/or appraisal documents to your inventory. Be sure to note model and serial numbers.
- Group your possessions into logical categories, i.e., by hobby, by room in your home.
- Carefully photograph or videotape each item and document a brief description, including age, purchase price and estimated current value.
- Remember to open drawers and closets to document what is inside.
- Store your home inventory and related documents in a safe, easily accessible place, such as a secured site/file online, a fireproof box or in a safe deposit box. You may want to share a copy with your insurance provider to make necessary updates to your coverage.
- Review and update your inventory annually and anytime you make a significant purchase.
- To get started, download the free myHOME Scr.APP.book app by visiting the iTunes® App Store or the Google Play App Store and searching "NAIC" from your phone. Or go to
oci.wi.gov/pub_list/pi-224.pdf to print a simple home inventory checklist.
Commissioner Nickel encourages consumers to read their homeowner's, renter's, or condominium owner's insurance policy to make sure they understand the coverage they have in place and to make sure the level of insurance coverage is adequate to meet their needs. Consumers who see a need for revising their policies should work with their insurance agent to get their coverage updated.
OCI offers a number of publications on insurance for consumers on its Web site at oci.wi.gov. Those publications include
Tips for Saving on Auto Insurance,
Tips for Saving on Homeowner's Insurance,
Fact Sheet on Continuation and Conversion Rights in Health Insurance Policies,
Tips for Buying Insurance on the Internet and many others. Visit
insureUonline.org for more insurance-related tips and information.
Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.