By Jonathan Priest
It’s Christmas in July! OK, not really, but in this exciting installment of “I’m Licensed To Sell Insurance So You Should Listen To Me,” I DO want you to make a list and check it twice! Why? Because as a renter or homeowner, part of your responsibility as a policyowner or “named insured” is to keep accurate information as to the inventory of your personal belongings!
Back in the Golden Age of Insurance, before computers were widespread and commonly used, a decimal point was an underwriter’s best friend. Premiums were calculated manually, and insurance companies would send out small, mostly blank ruled pamphlets for their customers to notate the items that they owned, in order to more easily facilitate replacement of items that were damaged in a covered claim.
While we’ve moved away from ledger books as a society, it still makes sense to keep a record of the things that you own in your home, your shed and your garage. Now that most of us have a video recording device that fits in our pocket, and remote storage capability for said videos, it’s never been easier to take a few minutes and stroll through your house, taking video of all the items in your possession!
It’s family reunion time! Uncle Ray really wants to run the grill, and against your better judgement (he did swap a Hemi into his John Deere back in 2002, but surely his judgement’s improved since then, right?) you allow him to turn on the propane, watching as he carefully thumbs the spark switch and the burners ignite.
“I got this under control,” he says. “Go finish up the deviled eggs and the ambrosia salad!” You turn your back… and as soon as you’re around the side of the garage, he grabs his new turkey fryer out of the back of his RAM 2500 and sets it square on the grill, perilously close to your vinyl siding…
You see where I’m going with this, right?
You might say to yourself, “I know what I have, I don’t need to bother with that foolishness!” I beg to disagree. I have had customers come to me months and even years after a loss to file a supplemental claim, as they forgot about the item or items during their first attempt to notify the insurance company of all of the damaged (or stolen) property.
Speaking of stolen property, that can be the toughest loss to come back from and be made whole again; it sometimes takes several weeks or months to realize that you’ve been burgled, if you don’t catch the perpetrator in the act! A great and inexpensive way to help protect against theft is by installing a security camera or a Ring-style doorbell camera, particularly in this age of “Porch Pirates” who cruise through neighborhoods looking for newly delivered packages to steal off folks’ front steps! These can also very often give you additional discounts on your home insurance.
When it comes to specialized items like jewelry, firearms, antiques and musical instruments, I highly recommend adding scheduled personal property coverage to your home or renter’s policy. For a relatively small additional cost, additional protection is afforded on these items, provided the company has received evidence of value like an appraisal, bill of sale or similar documents.
In many cases, there is no deductible in the event of a loss of a scheduled item, and the coverage is much more comprehensive, with additional benefits like “Pair and Set” on items like earrings, so that if one goes missing or a stone falls out, the company will provide multiple replacement options to choose from in order to make sure you get the closest possible “twin” to match the remaining piece.
There are also many specialized additional coverages available for cell phones, tablets and computers, and home office equipment as well! When your insurance agent calls looking for you to schedule an annual policy review, ask them about these additional benefits, discounts and coverages so you are as informed a consumer as you can be! <