Have you done this lately?

Have you documented your household contents lately? How about ever?  Most people don’t take the time to memorialize the contents inside their home. You may ask why this is needed.  The answer can be easily relayed by a recent personal experience.

My office, which is in my home, was partially flooded by a faulty connection hose. Of course this occurred while I was out of town. The small hose that connects from the wall to the toilet dislodged and began to spout water. Luckily, my wife and kids were able to contain the damage, but enough damage was done to require the work of a water restoration team…..as well a claim to the insurance company.

Beyond the usual suspected damage (carpet, base boards, and dry wall), there were additional items that were destroyed.   Back in a storage area of our home we had many items damaged, such as family pictures, framed art….etc. 

The good news for us was we were able to document the damage by taking pictures after the fact.  But what if your home was hit by a tornado, severe flood, or fire?  

Here’s where forethought and some hard work pay off. By properly documenting and storing a list of contents, the homeowner will be assured the contents can be identified for insurance and tax purposes. In the Nashville flood of 2010, many people lost everything. Had the contents of the home been documented and safely stored, the process of documentation for insurance and casualty loss purposes would have been much easier.

How to document?

First, it’s important to document room by room…..including unfinished storage rooms! I feel the best approach is to use a two prong approach…..video and paper.  Create a spreadsheet listing the items in each room. Combine that data with a video and you have solid documentation.

How and where to store this data?

With today’s technology there are several ways to save data. It’s important to have several copies of this info stored. One or more copies should be stored in your home. Maybe the video and spreadsheet on a home computer, as well as stored in hard copy form in a fire proof safe. You may also want to keep a hard copy in a safety deposit box.  Finally, you can store a copy electronically through an online backup service such as Mozy.

While my small disaster was only a minor inconvenience compared to the flood of 2010, it created an interesting learning opportunity. What if my home had been destroyed by a fire?  How would substantiation of household items occur?

Hopefully this process will have the same effect as taking an umbrella to the golf course on a cloudy day.  It never rains when I take an umbrella, so hopefully you will never need this to use this information.  But it’s always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

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