Danville Express

- June 15, 2007

Keep a home inventory to protect your assets if disaster strikes

Protecting your home and possessions means more than simply having an insurance policy in the event of trouble.

A good home inventory record is the best way to protect your belongings in the event your home is destroyed in a fire or other disaster.

Now is a good time to take an inventory of everything you own in the event disaster strikes, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

"An up-to-date home inventory is one of the best ways to make the most of your insurance dollars," said Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. "A home inventory is basically a list of all of your personal possessions and their estimated value."

A home inventory helps you to purchase enough insurance to replace the items you own. It can also help get insurance claims settled faster and substantiate losses for income tax purposes.

To encourage homeowners and renters to conduct a home inventory, the I.I.I. has created a free home inventory software program, entitled "Know Your Stuff." The program is available as a free download at www.knowyourstuff.org

In order to make the task of creating an inventory simpler, the Know Your Stuff software allows you to organize your possessions according to the room in which they are located and provides lists of possessions that are typically found in certain rooms as a prompt. It also has the capacity to store digital photographs so that you can document your possessions visually.

"More and more of us have all kinds of high tech gadgets," noted Salvatore. "These are expensive to replace, so it is all the more important to keep track of them for insurance purposes."

Consumers can, of course, simply note all of their belongings in a notebook and keep a file of major receipts. But using technology such as computers, digital cameras or video recorders simplifies the process. With the Know Your Stuff software you can store digital photographs of important items along with your list of possessions. And using a digital video camera can be quite effective, as it enables you to narrate while you are filming.

When making a record of possessions, it is essential to note expensive items such as jewelry, furs and collectibles since they may require additional insurance. But, it is also important to make note of more commonplace items such as toys, CDs, clothing and even towels and linens, since the cost of replacing these items can really add up if you suffer a major disaster.

"If your household gets involved, this project can be fun. Children can help by opening closets and drawers and listing what is in there," said Salvatore.

More importantly, it is easy to update and store a digital home inventory. It takes nothing more than the click of a mouse to add a new possession. And when it comes to storing your digital home inventory, you can easily burn it onto a CD or print out a room-by-room document - either of which can be stored in a safety deposit box or other secure location.

For more information about insurance and creating and keeping a home inventory, visit the I.I.I. Web site at www.iii.org.

(SPM Wire)


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