Madison, WI – March 24, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Spring is here and stormy weather is right around the corner. It’s time to update your home inventory so that you have an accurate list of your possessions if you need to file an insurance claim. So do what you always do this time of year . . . get out your iPhone® or iPad®.
Wait . . . what?
Wisconsin’s severe storms can potentially cause significant damage to your home and its contents. The average claim payment for damage to or loss of home contents in Wisconsin was $5,961 in 2010.
One of the best ways to make sure your possessions are fully protected is to document them with a home inventory. Now creating a home inventory is easier than ever thanks to myHOME Scr.APP.book, a new iPhone® application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The free myHOME Scr.APP.book app lets users quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information room by room and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.
“A home inventory assures you know exactly what you own, and what it is worth, before you need to make a claim,” says Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel. “The new iPhone® app makes it easy to document your possessions. Knowing what you own will help you choose the right coverage in the first place.”
Taking Inventory of Your Home’s Contents
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. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (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 landscape 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 fire-proof 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 for iPhone® users by visiting the iTunes® App Store or searching “NAIC” in the app store from your phone. Or go to http://oci.wi.gov/pub_list/pi-224.pdf (opens in new window) to print a simple home inventory checklist.
Other individuals may face special circumstances with their property insurance needs:
- Families: Many homeowner’s policies do not cover items such as laptops and televisions stolen from a college dorm room; if your son or daughter lives off-campus, you will need renter’s insurance. Most policies limit coverage for jewelry to $500, which typically is not enough to replace a favorite pair of diamond earrings or a wedding ring. The standard $1,000 limit to replace computers may not be enough for a busy household with multiple PCs.
- Young Singles: Consider purchasing renter’s insurance to cover your possessions, even if living with roommates—do not rely on the landlord’s insurance. Items such as sports equipment or navigation systems stolen from your vehicle typically are not covered by auto insurance and must be filed against homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
- Military: Most policies do not cover personal property taken with you while deployed to a war zone; if you store belongings left behind, you likely will need additional off-premises coverage.
- Home-Based Business: If you run a business out of your home, make sure your equipment and any inventory is fully insured.
- Domestic Partners: The standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy only covers possessions of the person named on the title or rental agreement. If your name is not listed, your property may be at risk.
More information about homeowner’s and renter’s insurance is available from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI). The OCI publications, Consumer’s Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance and Settling Property Insurance Claims, can be viewed on the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov. Single copies can also be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, or calling 800-236-8517.
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.
Jim Guidry, (608) 264-6239 or jim.guidry (at) wisconsin (dot) gov