The Inside Story: Protecting Your Contents
Recording an accurate and detailed list of almost everything in your abode will help insurance cover your prized possessions in the event of burglary, fires, flooding or other maison mishaps. AMA Insider has some great tips to make sure your coverage doesn’t fall short when you need it the most.
1) Keep your policy current
“Keeping your files up to date can help prevent losses,” says Steve Kee, director of media relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Kee told Insider that he recommends taking a complete inventory of your home’s contents annually, or more frequently if your circumstances change.
Over time you accumulate more possessions or perhaps purchase pricey items like jewellery and artwork. For those big-ticket items, check your policy’s limits; you might need extra coverage.
2) Create an exhaustive inventory
There are no hard rules on how to inventory your home’s contents, whether you jot down a list or make a spreadsheet. Being thorough is what’s important. Rifle through every room, closet and crawlspace to itemize everything, from your well-loved IKEA cutlery in the kitchen to the camping gear stashed in the garage. Note makes, models and age of items, being as specific as possible, and document serial numbers. Such details help insurance adjusters identify what was lost or destroyed, identify similar products for quotes, and determine replacement and depreciation values.Consider making videos or taking photos of the rooms in your home as well as individual items. This can be can a valuable way to verify details if you need to make a claim. Also, retain receipts, warranties and appraisals, especially for valuable possessions.
Some options for keeping track of your inventory are:
- Taking photos: Take a picture inventory of your home’s contents. Make sure to upload to a secure online locations afterwards. It’s a good idea to keep two copies. For example, one uploaded to the cloud, and another on a USB drive at your office.
- Using an app to keep track of everything. There are plenty of free options such as Sortly, Snappii Home Inventory or UPHelp Home Inventory, and many of them will let you do things like scanning bar codes to record your stuff or export a list to Excel.
- Using a video camera (even the video camera on your phone): Simply walk around your home and rifle through all your stuff. Make sure to film make, model or serial number for bigger-ticket items. Upload to a secure online location afterwards, and keep a second copy too.
- Good ol’ fashion pen and paper: Make sure to note the cost to replace, and serial number is applicable. You can also click here to get a checklist from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
- A spreadsheet: You can just use excel to make your own, but the Insurance Bureau of Canada also has a handy excel spreadsheet you can download from this page.
Remember: When you’ve finished, make and keep multiple copies of your inventory—at the office, in a safety deposit box or saved on the cloud for quick retrieval.
3) Put the right info in your Inventory
For example, IBC suggests:
- Keep the bills, receipts, warranties and instruction manuals for your more valuable possessions – these can serve as proof of ownership.
- Store your records and receipts in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or a secure online option.
- Review your home inventory every year and when you make new purchases. The value of your possessions will increase the more you acquire.
- Store records of credit cards, taxes, government and other important household documents in an off-site location.
Kee offers two parting pieces of advice: Scrutinize your policy and talk to an insurance representative for expert advice. “Insurance is there to protect you and help you recover in times of crisis.”