Thursday, May 10, 2007

Are You Prepared?

After hearing about the devastating tornados in Kansas last week, looking at the horrifying pictures, and listening to the sad stories on the news, I wondered what all of those people were going to do now. How would I feel and what would I do if I found myself in a similar situation? With my house flattened and all of my personal belongings destroyed, how would I start to rebuild?

If you were to sustain a catastrophic loss like that, would you be prepared? Could you remember the details of all of your possessions? I know that I could not.

Even with home owners insurance, I would not be in a position to be able to recoup all of my possessions. Insurance companies require that you provide overwhelming and undeniable proof of what you own. When a disaster such as a tornado throws your life into utter chaos, insurance companies want details of all your tangible personal property and what it is worth, based on insurance stipulations and requirements. Not having this information available during a disaster, puts you at the risk of losing 20% or more of a casualty loss insurance claim, after faithfully paying all of the premiums.

By preparing yourself for the unexpected you can maximize the return on your insurance claim, and reduce the entire claims process by weeks or even months.

If you're like most of us, you buy things and put the receipt in a folder in case you need it for warranty purposes. But in case of a fire or a tornado. . . well, you know what can happen.

It is essential to keep a documented inventory of your personal property. Insurance policy interpretation is where the problems usually arise. It is assumed that families have color TV's, maybe even two or three. But what is not assumed is that you may have a big screen TV, a custom made dining room or bedroom set, or made to order drapery, etc. Property that falls into this category is not assumed by any insurance company. You will have to prove you had it in order to financially recover in case of a claim. Insurance companies will ask for an inventory, including description and value of damaged property. And, most important, they'll ask you to attach bills, receipts that justify the loss. Photos and written records kept in a safe deposit box would be very beneficial during a time like this.

My plan now is to start working on creating a digital inventory of my home using my digital camera, (how hard can that be). Record it now! Don’t regret it later! That is what I keep telling myself. I am planning to make a complete written inventory of our home, and take videos and photographs of our home and contents.

This process will help to ensure that if my family is faced with the same kind of disaster that many families in a small town in Kansas experienced last week, we will receive the proper settlement from our insurance company to help rebuild our lives.

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