(COLUMBUS)― Spring cleaning is one of many rituals that Ohio homeowners take part in following a long, cold winter. While you’re cleaning up your home this spring, why not take a few extra moments to protect its contents by creating a home inventory.
“A home inventory assures you know exactly what you own, and what it is worth, before you need to make a claim,” Ohio Lt. Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor said. “Not having one puts you at great risk for inadequate insurance coverage if those valuables would need to be replaced due to fire, theft or natural disasters.”
A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) showed that:
- The average claim payment for damage to or loss of home contents in Ohio was $6,417 in 2010
- Half of Americans do not have a home inventory
- Of those that did have a home inventory:
- 32 percent had not taken any pictures
- 58 percent had no receipts
- 44 percent had not stored their inventory in a remote location
Creating a home inventory is easier than ever, thanks to a new iPhone® application from the 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. For those who do not have an iPhone, the Department has a home inventory template available at www.insurance.ohio.gov.
The Ohio Department of Insurance offers the following tips when creating a home inventory:
1. Make a list of possessions, including “celebration” purchases, such as jewelry and fine art.
2. Think about family heirlooms, collections and furniture. Also, consider items related to everyday leisure time, from flat-screen televisions to custom guitars.
3. Take note of commonplace items, such as toys, CDs and clothing. And, 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.
4. Attach copies of original sales receipts and/or appraisal documents to your inventory. Be sure to note model and serial numbers.
5. Group your possessions into logical categories, i.e., by hobby, by room in your home.
6. Carefully photograph or videotape each item and document a brief description, including age, purchase price and estimated current value.
7. Remember to open drawers and closets to document what is inside.
8. 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.
9. Review and update your inventory annually and anytime you make a significant purchase.
Choosing Home Insurance that Fits
Keeping a home inventory also helps consumers stay on top of their family’s changing insurance needs. Consumers often are surprised by what is not covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies:
- On average, home contents are reimbursed only up to 50 percent of the home’s insured value, i.e., $50,000 to replace the contents of a home insured for $100,000.
- Standard policies impose limits on replacement coverage for certain types of personal property, such as jewelry, furniture, furs, firearms and electronics.
Exactly how much you’ll be reimbursed for lost, stolen or damaged personal property can vary greatly from policy to policy. A home inventory helps consumers determine what they need to protect and keep their policies up to date. Knowing what is and isn’t protected, and for how much, helps families prepare for the worst. The last thing you want when misfortune strikes is to learn your insurance policy won’t replace all of your belongings. And, by choosing coverage to fit their life stages, consumers also have peace of mind.
Consumers with questions about insurance coverage can call the Department’s toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 or visit the Department's website, www.insurance.ohio.gov.