Though tornadoes can happen at any time during the year, much of Texas is now pushing into the heart of tornado season. If you’re not familiar with the basics, now is a great time to get acquainted with tornado safety—before a storm strikes your home.
Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, one way that you can protect yourself from the potential financial devastation that a storm can leave behind is to have homeowner’s insurance. Before you file a claim with the insurance company, though, having a home inventory in hand can make the process move much more smoothly. Here’s what you need to know.
Making a Home Inventory for Storm Damage Claims
A home inventory consists of a list of all of your possessions, including receipts or other purchase records that indicate a value for each item or category of item. Here’s how to get started:
- Paper or digital? Pen and paper works great and lets you easily attach paper receipts, but can get cluttered and disorganized fast. You may prefer a digital catalog, especially if you’re a smartphone user. You can devise your own digital method, or use one of many free or paid apps available for your phone or computer.
- Start big. Go for your most obvious possessions first, including electronics and computers, home appliances, and so on. If the item has a serial number, record it.
- Organize by room. Chart a path through your house and work your way through, room by room. This helps keep your list organized, too.
- Take pictures. Using a phone, you can easily take digital photos of your possessions. You may even choose to do a video walkthrough of your home.
- Note big-ticket items. If you have particularly rare or especially valuable items such as art, jewelry, or other collectibles, you may want to make sure that your insurance is adequate to cover them. Talk with your insurance agent, as you may need additional insurance to cover those items completely.
- Include receipts. If at all possible, include a receipt or other record of purchase with your records. If you can’t, you may use the Internet to find online retailers or auction sites for a price approximation, if the item is still available for sale at all. Records of professional valuations for your expensive items should definitely be included in your inventory, too.
- Keep your inventory off-site. This is the part that makes paper records a pain, but with digital records, it’s very easy. Your inventory should be stored someplace other than your home. A safety deposit box at the bank or a secure cloud service are good options. Wherever you choose, make sure that unauthorized people can’t view your inventory, as it could be a shopping list for burglars.
When you’re dealing with smaller or bulk items in your inventory such as shoes or clothing, you can generally list those items in quantity, along with an estimated value, unless they’re particularly rare or valuable. For designer clothes or other expensive items, such as furs, list them individually.
With your inventory in hand, it’s a great time to review your policy. You’ll likely need to do some adding up get some total values from your receipts or estimates in your inventory. Compare these values to what’s covered in your plan, and keep an eye out for special limitations or exclusions for things such as artwork or computers. You may be underinsured! Talk to your insurance agent about expanding your coverage. That way, should it come time to make a claim for storm damage on your Texas home, you know that you’ll be covered.
Get Legal Help With Your Insurance Claims
If you think the insurance company is giving you the runaround, you may be right. Don’t let insurance adjusters push you into a lowball settlement you’re not comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to get legal help. An attorney with experience handling insurance companies will be able to help you seek the money that you’re owed.
For help with your Texas storm damage claims, Wayne Wright LLP is here when you need us. Call us by phone, use the live chat box, or click the contact link to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation about your situation today.