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Post holidays a good time to update insurance records

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, at 5:34 p.m.

How to do a home inventory

Here are some suggestions from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners about how to do a home inventory for insurance purposes.

• Group your possessions into logical categories, perhaps by room.

• Don't forget items you rarely use, such as holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, jewelry for special occasions and fur coats.

• Make copies of original sales receipt and appraisal documents. Be sure to write down model and serial numbers on any belongings that have them.

• Carefully photograph or videotape each item and document a brief description, including age, purchase price and estimated current value.

• Store your home inventory and related documents in a safe, easily accessible place online, on your computer or in a fireproof box or safe deposit box. Consider sharing a copy with friends, relatives and your insurance provider.

There’s an app ... and other resources

If you have a smartphone, you can download the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ inventory app myHOME.Scr.APP.book from iTunes or Google Play. The free app is among several that let you photograph your belongings, provide descriptions of them room by room and then store the list electronically.

You also can download and print inventory sheets and tips at http://www.insureuonline.org/home_inventory_checklist.pdf or http://ksinsurance.org/consumers/docs/HomeInventory.pdf.

You can call the Kansas Insurance Department at 800-432-2484 to request that an inventory guide be mailed to you.

Many insurance companies also have inventory lists and programs you can download.

If Santa was good to you and brought you a new flat-screen TV with surround sound or the diamond necklace of your dreams, be sure to let your insurance agent know.

The Kansas Insurance Department is reminding people to start or update an inventory of belongings. After the holidays is a good time to do that because newly gifted belongings will make the list.

“If you got a big-ticket item, it certainly would be a good idea that you get it on your inventory list,” said Bob Hanson, a spokesman for the insurance department.

Thanks to technology, keeping that inventory is easier than ever.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners even has an app for smartphones, myHOME.Scr.APP.book, that can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play.

The app allows you to take photos of belongings, provide descriptions of them and then store the list electronically.

Photographing or making videos of belongings is recommended because doing that will remind you to include items you might otherwise forget, Hanson said.

“In many cases, a picture is worth a thousand words,” Hanson said.

For example, photograph or make a video of your holiday decorations before they go back to the basement or attic. You’ll likely be surprised by how many ornaments you have or how much it would cost you to replace your artificial tree and lights.

An advantage of making an inventory is ensuring that your belongings are properly insured for their value.

“I think the most prudent thing is to update your inventory at least once a year,” Hanson said. “Once you have that inventory taken care of, the best thing to do is to put it in a safe place outside the home like a safe deposit box.”

Tamara O’Connor, a public affairs specialist with State Farm, said preparing an inventory makes weathering a disaster at least somewhat easier.

“People forget things when they’re stressed,” she said.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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