Most of you are savvy enough to have homeowner’s or business insurance on your home offices, but for home-based travel agents working out of an apartment or other rental dwelling, there’s a good chance that they—like most renters in the U.S.—are not insured. This puts them at double risk if they fall victim to theft or damage—this is, after all, their home and their workplace. Landlords are responsible for buildings; you are responsible for the unit that you legally rent.
If you’re not insured, get insured. I’ve used this space to send that message before, but it bears repeating. If you’re not insured, get insured.
One of the best ways to make sure possessions are fully protected is to document them with 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," says National Association of Insurance Commissioners President and Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan E. Voss. "Our research, however, suggests almost half of all Americans don't have an inventory of their possessions.”
To make it a less arduous task, NAIC has introduced a new iPhone app, myHOME Scr.APP.book, which 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.
10 Steps to Complete 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's 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 so he or she can make necessary updates to your coverage.
9. Review and update your inventory annually and whenever you make a significant purchase.
10. To get started, download the free myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone users by visiting the iTunes® App Store or searching 'NAIC' in the app store from your phone. Or go to www.insureuonline.org to print a simple home inventory checklist.
"Exactly how much you'll be reimbursed for lost, stolen or damaged personal property can vary greatly from policy to policy," says Voss. "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 your losses.”